Fishing Spots in NT

Each state and territory in Australia has its own premier fishing spots and predominant fish species. Some locations may reveal abundant fish stocks of a select species whilst others may offer a more diverse range of species. This article discusses some of the popular fishing spots in the Northern Territory and provides some helpful tips.
Created: July 2008
Latest Feedback: December 2011

Darwin Harbour and Shoal Bay

Darwin Harbour and Shoal Bay are two major waterways bordering Darwin that provides ample fish abundance and quality that cannot be equalled by any other capital city.



Fishing Spots

Around a quarter of all recreational fishing is carried out in Darwin Harbour and Shoal Bay. Fishing these waters has just got better because as of the 1st of February 2008, the NT Government has made Darwin Harbour and Shoal Bay closed to inshore commercial coastal net fishing.

There are numerous wharves and jetties around the harbour and the city peninsula. Many are great fishing spots where catches of tuna and queenfish are common. Even the occasional barramundi can be hooked at night when they are attracted by the lights. During the dry months, pelagic fish such as northern bluefin tuna, queenfish, giant trevally, barracuda and mackerel can be landed at East Point and Lee Point. Hope Inlet, the waterway for Shoal Bay can be accessed by boat for anglers to target black jewfish, saltwater barramundi and fingermark. Boaties can also head towards the many sunken ship wrecks such as the Mandorah Queen which act as artificial reefs for black jewfish and cod.

Tips

At East Point and Lee Point, big Spanish mackerel can be taken by trolling, spinning with lures or using live bait amid berley. Land and boat fishers can both enjoy good action at these points. In creeks such as King Creek, barramundi congregate in the deeper sections especially late in the dry season. Black jewfish may be caught in creek holes deeper than 5 metres.

Daly River

The Daly River was discovered and named by Sir Dominick Daly (Governor of South Australia) in 1865. It is a river that can experience rises and falls of up to 16 metres when it floods and can reach 8 metres twice a day when the freshwaters are pushed back upstream by the incoming Timor Sea tide. Commercial fishing has been excluded from the Daly River and the resource was signed over to recreational and traditional anglers.

Fishing Spots

The Daly River attracts anglers from all over the country and there are even Barramundi fishing competitions such as the Barra Nationals and the Northern Territory Barra Classic which are held annually. When it comes to actual fishing spots, the Daly River is like many in the top end, a wilderness river which has fresh and saltwater crocodiles, more notably down stream from the Crossing where they share sandy banks with waterfowl, stately jabirus, sea eagles and hawks. Therefore, fishing is done on a suitable boat and local knowledge should be gained from the Daly River township locals.

The best times to fish for Barramundi is from September to the beginning of the wet season which usually starts mid to late November. The best fishing is during what’s called the ‘run-off’ which is the period when the monsoon is on the wane and swelled floodplains drain back into the river via a network of gutters, canals, channels and creeks. Where the incoming fresh floodplain waters meet the river’s flow, barramundi usually wait for passing bait. Others will become trapped in landlocked billabongs and become creatures of ambush, usually waiting amongst rock bars and underwater snags. During the drier months of May and June, barramundi fishing start to slow, but some results can still be obtained by working the snags, rock-bars and tidal run-offs.

Tips

Productive snag fishing requires getting the lure down to the fish, so when you are trolling you know it’s about right when you feel the lure hitting the bottom at times. Try a variety of lures for working deep snags such as sinking jigs and soft plastic lures. Surface lures are also great to use in shallow waters, where barramundi often frequent at night. Barramundi also enjoy taking live bait and freshwater prawns. Please be aware of the barramundi possession and size limits, and note the seasonal closures that occur on the Daly River below Moon Billabong between October and February.

Mary River

The Mary River System flows to the coast at Chambers Bay where incredible fishing action takes place on all tides. Shady Camp is a popular spot for anglers and provides a boat ramp to reach the lower reaches of the Mary River. It is a picturesque spot surrounded by freshwater billabongs, abundant wildlife including saltwater crocodiles and paperbark and monsoon forests.

Fishing Spots

The Mary River including its floodplains is great for barramundi, sleepy cod, saratoga and oxeye herring. Possibly the best barramundi fishing spot on the Mary River is Shady Camp. Each year after the monsoonal rains, huge barramundi move up to Shady Camp and feed at high tides on the deep bends. The actual camping area is located near the Shady Camp barrage which is a concrete causeway constructed to prevent salt water going any further up the river. The ‘Wall’ at Shady Camp which is made up of rocks that drop about a metre is possible for shore based angling. Any other bank fishing is considered too risky as saltwater crocodiles are typically in plague proportions. Since barramundi is spread throughout the river, the best fishing is done in a suitable boat. There are boat ramps which allow access to big barra country at the mouths of Tommycut and Sampan Creeks.

Tips

During the ‘run-off’ period when the floodplains start to empty, imitating the food species that travels with the water flow such as using soft rubber lures may prove successful in landing a large barramundi. Please be aware that between October and February recreational barramundi fishing is prohibited on the Mary River below the Shady Camp barrage. There is a 2 barramundi possession limit per person in the Mary River Management Zone and you must follow the fish size limits and the fishing equipment regulations.

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