Spring Tide Dilemma!

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Well I am back from Darwin and the reality of going back to work this week.  It is just a reminder to me that even on a bad days fishing I still love it and miss it when all I have now is weekends to fish, although daylight savings will allow some additional hours after work to have a tangle with some bass and squid fishing.

Everybody thinks if you are going to Darwin that the fish are on tap but I tell you that this was the hardest I have ever had to work for my fish on the three days that I had a chance to get on the water.

I have been informed by all the locals, that Darwin did not receive a very big wet last season and this has affected the fishing in both the rivers and billabongs.  I actually thought it would be the opposite and that there might be more fish in the billabong because they couldn’t get down the river systems to breed.

However the locals inform me that the crocodiles get very hungry so this impacts the fish stocks.  Other factors include reducing water levels and bacteria levels.  Stock levels can also be affected by the first big rain of the wet season.  It is normal for large fish kills to occur for a couple of reasons:

  1. The rain lowers the oxygen levels in the water
  2. Rainwater washing organic matter from the flood plains

Apart from not being a very good wet season, I also managed to land in Darwin right in the middle of spring tides.  Never again!  Please remind me to check the tides and moon phase prior to me planning a couple of extra days at Darwin.  We had approx 6 metres of water movement each day, which meant the following: –

  1. At high tide the water level was way up the back of the mangroves and difficult to reach where fish could have been possibly hiding.
  2. At low tide the water level was extremely low which meant you could chance being stuck up a creek without a paddle (excuse the pun) or you had to get back to the boat ramp before the water ran out.
  3. The bluewater fishing was also affected by the amount of dirty water flowing out which meant you had to look further for mackeral and long tail tuna.

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Day one I was lucky enough to go out with Elaine and Shane Sanderson whom were kind enough to be also looking after me on my short visit.  Thank you very much guys.  We ventured out to Darwin Harbour as Elaine had just spent 3 days fishing the billabong and I too was keen for a change of scenery.  With the tides screaming out we positioned ourselves on a couple of different rock bars and caught a number of juvenile fish such as barramundi, grunter, mangrove jack, small trevally and cod.  It was a slow day and between the three of us we didn’t stop casting all day.  We kept our eye out for schools of fish on the way back to no avail.

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Day two I had a friend set me up with Matthew Tibbits a local whom use to work as a guide apart from a number of other things.  We headed out to Corroboree Billabong.  After witnessing the ladies tournament on the weekend I knew it was going to be another tough day on the water.  We just casted at the lily pads all day and to my surprise we found a couple of small areas where the fish seemed to be congregated.  I myself lost or missed hook ups on nine fish before securing my 10th fish.  Hard lesson learnt.  I was using a weedless rigged plastic but I was losing the fish when they went around the stem of a lily pad.  I soon learnt that once hooked I had to get their head up high and not let them dive around the stems of the lilies.  Once I did this the fish started to come to the boat.  We both lost some beauties but most fish were around the 40cm mark.  Matthew was talking about his personal best of 1.09m now that would have been a monster.

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Still itching to go and catch some decent fish I decided to book a charter for Wednesday, I needed two people before they could go so with not much arm-twisting Elaine jumped on board with me.

We headed out of Leaders Creek to the Vernon Islands.  A group of 4 islands surrounded by coral with small creek systems in the islands themselves.  Spectacular looking water, it just felt fishy.  We tried for jacks first up to no avail and the outer edges of the islands for trevally etc; one guy got a small trevally.  Then we headed out on the bluewater chasing schools of small queenfish.  Once we hooked up the sharks were quick to move in.  This was pretty entertaining.  As the queenfish moved on so did we fishing the outer edges of the blue holes.  Large deep holes in the coral reef, which are such an iridescent blue colour.  We used hard bodies to twitch over the shallow edges as the water drained off.  I managed to score a black tipped reef shark, great fight but something I am not that proud of and Elaine scored a nice trevally.  As we were running out of water quickly the day was cut short to head back in.

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Next time I head to Darwin it will be neap tides all the way!  I certainly learnt the hard way.

I am currently having fishing withdrawals and need something that will pull line to give me my fix.  Went to head out on the weekend and we were faced with three metre swells at home.  I feel sorry for my husband this week until I can get my fishing fix.  Tight Lines!

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