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Three days on the South Alligator

I’ve just got back from a three day stint in the Top End.

Flew in to Darwin on a red-eye flight and arrived after midnight. At 3am we packed the car and made the 2 hour drive to Kakadu and subsequently the boat ramp at the South Alligator. The first thing I can say is, damn that river is big! My home water, the mighty Hawkesbury River in northern Sydney, spans 100kms of salt and brackish water. The South Alligator made it look small. From the boat ramp it was an additional 2 hour boat ride to the mouth!

On the weekend were the year’s smallest neaps (so I’m told..?) with tidal variances of only 50mm at stages. The river was supposed to clean up, and did, and the fish were able to bite freely.
I’ve had a few trips north to tropical locations that slightly disappointed considering the pre-trip expectation. We were a bunch of eager fishos intent on catching more fish than at home, and as most fishos know, fishing is rarely like that. Fish bite when they bite, whether it’s up in the untouched north or hard fished waters like Sydney harbour.

I had an idea of what I wanted to achieve in our few days there. I knew the boys were going to troll for barra, cast lures at bankside structure and head offshore for some tasty reef fish.
Personally, I wanted to use plastics predominantly against the local techniques and see if my rubber lures could keep pace with the social and cultural norm up this way. I understand plastics are becoming a lot more accepted in NT but it seemed the standard fish and shad profiles were the most favoured.
Back home I use stickbaits, jerk shads, call them whatever you like, 80 per cent of the time and for good reason – they are fun to use and they work very well.

We fished all the likely spots around Little Brook Ck and Mud Island and caught a swag of decent barra to 82cms, a stack of hard-fighting goldies to 2.5kgs, grunters, queenies, threadfin and blue salmon, a small GT and a small black jew. Not a bad mixed bag of tropical sportfish on the rubber stuff. The boys did well too chiming in with their fair share of fish via their conventional methods.

Offshore it was a bit tougher. Although the tide was placid I only managed to hook a small queenie, some pint-sized Spanish flag, a couple moonfish, a nice GT that smoked me and a tenacious reef shark. The bait was catching the bulk of the fillets out in the blue.

I guess the key take home messages from the weekend were that using southern plastics techniques certainly does work up north. I basically used bream and flatty retrieves on jerk minnow type lures all weekend and held my own against the hard body brigade. I even managed to convince the locals a spin rod is just as deadly as a baitcaster in the right hands. Mind you I was required to prove it too…

The crocs in the river were noticeably absent except for when we stranded ourselves on a sand bank and forced to get out and pull it into deeper water. Suddenly, four moderately sized crocs appeared out of nowhere for an inquisitive look. The sneaky buggers instinctively know when a meal presents itself.

I can’t wait to head back up there; the runoff is my next target. Bring on the rain!

Read more from Kevin Savvas in Reports.

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