The Top End always starts the year with monsoonal rain that brings the landscape to life. That's why the period between January and mid-march is known by locals as 'the wet'.
Fishing during breaks in the wet, when there is no monsoonal flow over the Top End, can be very good.
Once the monsoon settles over the Top End and soaking tropical rain showers become frequent, the floodplains fill and expand, connecting billabongs and linking them to the main river course. This gives the fish in those waters an opportunity to swim towards the tidal section, feeding in the floodplain channels along the way.
At this time of year, barra are sometimes on the bite in the tidal rivers, even if they are flooded, though hooking a barra can take quite a bit of hunting around before you locate a patch of feeding fish.
Where to fish
The best barra fishing during the wet is usually in the mangrove creeks and estuaries, like those in Darwin Harbour. Top End estuaries are alive with juvenile prawns in January and February, so these are also excellent months to target black jewfish, golden snapper, cod, pikey bream and mangrove jack, which have moved into the bays and creeks to feed on the prawns and small fish. One of the advantages of estuary fishing in the wet is that the impact of wet season storms is not nearly as great as in unsheltered waters.
Bluewater fishing is totally dependent on the weather conditions during the wet. However, in between monsoons, conditions can improve and anglers have the opportunity to catch quality fish offshore, especially reef fish such as golden snapper, black jewfish, tricky snapper, cod, coral trout and red emperor.
Although there are opportunities to fish during the wet season, at its peak, monsoonal storms are best avoided.
The Top End offers vast opportunities to fish for and catch wild barramundi, but Northern Territory Fisheries also run a program of stocking major impoundments like Manton Dam, 80 kilometres south of Darwin.