Daly River 2018

And jacks, salmon, jewfish - tell us how you went. NT, FNQ and Norwest.
slug
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Re: Daly River 2018

Post by slug » Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:54 am

It always amazes me when I see large barra with 200ml 3 hook trebles still hanging out the jaw being held for the capture photo - pretty dumb stuff to me, but seems a very common occurance ....



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Re: Daly River 2018

Post by wonderwobler » Sun Jul 08, 2018 2:28 pm

A stiff breeze, cool temperatures and shallow clear water make barra fishing a real challenge this time of year. The reaches of river I poke around in during the months with no R in them certainly hold fish, however they are easily spooked by a boat and seem to be able to vanish before my eyes, sight casting seems to be impossible, for me anyway.

Billabongs are slightly better options, there are a couple I can fish land based, the water temp is a little higher than the river and the water not as clear or shallow as the river. The trade-off is the crocodile risk, over the years there has been a significant change in the croc population, the fresh water crocs that were in large numbers have disappeared and replaced by a few large salties.

One of the billabongs was known by locals as a “safe” spot for many many years, the freshwater crocs were seen as a litmus test, the salties like to eat the freshies, and the thinking being a large population of freshies generally indicated a lack of salties in this billabong.
The cane toad has played a major role in the fresh water crocs demise, when the toad invaded the river environment I saw and smelled lots of dead freshies that had fallen victim to the poisonous toad, along with everything else that like to eat frogs.

The species of fish I encounter in the billabong is all the usual suspects found in the river, bar one, the sooty grunter, I have never caught one in the billabong. It may be just luck or some other reason, by comparison this time of year in the river is the most productive time to target sooties.

These underrated fish can provide an alternative target for lure fishing when the barra aren’t as cooperative. They hit hard and fight doggedly, not bad on the chew either. Small lures of any type are worth trying, I’ve caught them on trout type lures and in more recent times little plastics rigged “Texas” style being very effective. They have a preference for rock bars but any structure is worth trying. I’ve never caught one in tidal water, they are a strictly fresh water fish.

I’m looking forward to a return to the “R” months.

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Re: Daly River 2018

Post by wonderwobler » Thu Aug 09, 2018 11:50 am

Who doesn’t like having a new toy to play with? A recent upgrade to a new outboard for my old boat had me excited and itching to put a few hours on it.

The method of using hours of run time for marine, aircraft and stationary engines is a long established way of monitoring an engines use for servicing and potential wear, distance traveled does not apply. I think many urban based cars should also be monitored this way given the time stuck in traffic and stop start use.

The new donk started at the touch of the key and was so quiet at idle that the splash of the tell-tale was the loudest sound, a few minutes of warm up and the boat was underway heading downstream from the Wooliana ramp. I estimated meeting a rising spring tide somewhere near Alligator Head, this would allow me to navigate the lower section of the river around Palmerston Island fairly easily.

Gently purring along at the recommended rev range for breaking in the new motor was going to take several hours for the trip, I had all day and plenty of fuel and supplies on board. The river is nearing its lowest flow rate and is shallow with many of its hidden obstacles being revealed, an ideal opportunity to plot a course on the GPS and mark a few things.
There was only two other trailers at the ramp when I launched, there would be a few other boats on the river from the caravan parks dotted along the river. As I picked my way through the Browns creek bend I noted some of the heavier snags had scars made by props and skegs.

The water was reasonable clear and it was interesting to see and note eddies and back flows of the river as I motored along at a pace slower than the boat would plane at. There was a cluster of small boats at Charlie’s Creek, most were bait fishing with one bloke casting at the mouth of the creek, they waved as I passed giving them a wide berth, they were living the dream I thought to myself.

Motoring along the Golden Mile the water had changed to a weak coffee colour and had a bit of flotsam and jetsam in it, I was able to up the rev range a bit and get the old girl on the plane. The two trailer boats from the ramp where at Kangaroo Rock that was clearly visible, trolling the upstream section waiting for the tide to turn I expected.
At the S bends the snags were also like the ones at Browns creek, bearing the scars of contact with metal, I wondered how many bits of props and legs where on the bottom of this wild river.

The tide was slowing and about to turn as I passed Elizabeth Creek, no boats and I was not likely to see another for the remainder of my trip, the run up to Alligator Head was fairly quick with a stiff breeze on my stern and a few more revs on the tacho, the tide was pushing in hard by the time I reached Clear Creek, I pulled into the creek for a smoko and a leak, the water in the creek mouth was the colour of chocolate.
There was quite a chop on the stretch down to Palmerston Island, tide verses wind makes for uncomfortable and a bit wet boating, but I was on a mission.

I took another break behind the island and checked the fuel and GPS readings before heading back upstream, the engine was a delight to use, smooth and quiet with considerable more grunt than its predecessor, but I felt it could run a bigger prop.
The trip back to the ramp was quicker with the tide and the ability to have a few more revs at hand. I didn’t see another boat until I was upstream of Brown’s.

The first 6hrs of run time on the donk, a couple more runs like this and it will be ready for its first service and be run in and ready for the coming wet.
As I retrieved the boat at the ramp I reflected on earlier times in this boat when its first of four motors was on it 30 years ago and I made similar trips fishing, I remembered having the same experience and excitement of a wild river all to myself.

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Re: Daly River 2018

Post by wazdog » Fri Aug 10, 2018 5:18 pm

What colour is the new donk ww???

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Re: Daly River 2018

Post by wonderwobler » Sat Aug 11, 2018 6:15 pm

Its black, built by a famous Japanese motorcycle manufacturer.

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Re: Daly River 2018

Post by wazdog » Mon Aug 13, 2018 2:29 pm

Cool buddy, mines blue!!! And I love it!!! Go yammie

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Re: Daly River 2018

Post by wonderwobler » Mon Sep 24, 2018 11:19 am

River heights and flow rates are seasonally variable, the rain fall in the catchment and levels of the Ooloo and Tindal aquifers determine the amount of water fish have to live in.

Presently the river is at the lowest height I have seen for this time of year, there are rocks exposed to the air that I have never seen above water. There is a distinct edge of the river bank that is devoid of any vegetation, the zone where plants that need exposure to the air to grow, ends.
It is thought by the boffins that the Daly’s dry season flow is dominated by springs from the underground aquifers, up to 60% of the water in the river coming from these springs.

Despite a significant rain event and river flood this year, in general it was another poor wet season. A lack of rain in the upper catchment area, particularly in the Katherine district where rain fall was so low it could be classified as drought conditions. Indeed some are predicting the Katherine River will cease to flow before the next rain.

Water temperatures increase as summer approaches, diminishing water flows and shallow water columns will heat up quickly. This normally gets the fish into an active feeding behavior. I wonder what it does to the aquatic environment as things like algae and bacteria’s seem to like warm to hot conditions. Cherabin don’t appear to thrive in hot water and seem to be very sparse in numbers at present. Makes me ask what the barra would be eating.

Sharks and stingrays are fairly common sightings at the moment working the water edge, the sharks predominantly target the mullet but I’m sure all things would be eaten given the chance. It’s hard to tell what the stingrays are eating with the way they slide up the bank trapping things under their wings.

The crocs are beginning to start their mating rituals, the males are patrolling their territories blowing bubbles and vibrating in the water to attract the females, the first lightning storms will get them real horny and ready to mate.

The build-up is just around the corner, the ecosystem is preparing for what is generally the most dramatic time of the year for change in the environment.

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Re: Daly River 2018

Post by wonderwobler » Mon Nov 05, 2018 3:36 pm

Being able to see into and through the water to locate and identify fish has become possible. In fact this ability is so achievable that many anglers are equipping themselves with high end electronic technology in the quest for a fish.

Most of us wear polarising sunglasses, they have been around a while and have the added use of protecting our eyes from foreign objects like insects and lures, going fishing during the day without them is unpleasant, and potentially dangerous.

Some of the spots I fish at this time of year due to the very clear shallow water, have proved to be more productive being land based. The boat appears to spook everything in its vicinity, its handy as a means of transport to locations. My approach is to stalk fish at spots that I have repeatedly seen fish holding station, somewhat like trout fishing, without going into the water…

The success rate is low, I don’t know what type of peripheral vision fish have but it’s rare to get more than one cast at a fish, if it doesn’t strike the lure first time the next attempt spooks it.

A spot that regularly holds a decent size fish is a back eddy caused by a small island about the size of my 12 footer, the water is less than a metre deep around the island with a deeper channel between it and the bank, it takes a fair effort to get into a position to make a cast from the steep bank.
I was stalking toward the spot I can cast from when something in my peripheral vision caught my eye, a change in colour in a part of the deeper water, at first I thought a shadow or even a bit of submerged timber, the caution light in my head lit up, I instantly realised the hunter was being hunted.

An Olympic class hop skip and jump was performed that placed me out of harm’s way, the old ticker was thumping, fortunately the sphincter held up, the croc was not a monster but neither am I, he would have won in a wrestling match…

Polarizing glasses might not be the latest or most advanced thing but I wouldn’t be without them, and they don’t need a battery to work. I’m looking forward to when the water is deeper, dirtier and I can fish from a boat.

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Re: Daly River 2018

Post by Captain6979 » Mon Nov 05, 2018 9:24 pm

Phew! Close call! PS.....damn I love reading your write-ups!

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Re: Daly River 2018

Post by wonderwobler » Sun Dec 23, 2018 3:17 pm

I’ve never heard a Top Ender use the word drought to describe local weather conditions. We consider ourselves to be living in a drought proof part of the world. At this time of year the bush is green, our gardens lush, no water restrictions all paint a picture of plentiful water and guaranteed rain fall.

While I don’t think we will see dust bowl type conditions that has gripped large parts of our country the fact is we are experiencing our own version of drought conditions. The link between the monsoon and rain fall on inland Australia is well established, weak monsoon conditions create wide spread drought conditions inland.
There hasn’t been a decent monsoon since 2011. In 2013 the rain fall was down 50% across the top end. We seem to experience extreme weather events rather than the stable weather patterns of the past, it may be a cyclic thing or rapid climate change, time will tell.

In the meantime we will have to adjust to the conditions. My observation is the run off happens earlier, and is much shorter in duration. The biomass of fish is lower and seems to have gaps in year classes, obviously connected to poor recruitment created by low rain falls. The biomass of fish not only includes all the species that live in the river, the turtles and crocs also feel the effects of a drought (I knew I could use the D word eventually)

This wet season is shaping up to be another dud, rainfall here is as follows, Sept. 0. Oct. 44. Nov. 219. Dec. 24. =287. Hardly enough to make the spear grass grow, in fact the bush at present looks stressed, its hot and dry, just like a drought.
The river is low for this time of year, the hugely important Cherabin spawning and egg drift to the salt water will be impacted resulting in low recruitment of this vital link in the food chain.

Droughts look like a dust bowl or desert in areas of low rain fall and sparse vegetation. I think droughts can also occur in areas of high rainfall and abundant vegetation, its appearance is deceptive, conditions might not be as desperate or devastating for the most adaptable species on the planet, humans. The natural environment I fear is not as adaptable.

I started this thread during a major flood event here at the Daly, I hope some of my ramblings provided some insight on life on the river or at least distracted you for a moment and got you thinking about fish and where they live. Thanks to all who posted their opinions and thoughts?

Have a safe and happy new year, WW.

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Re: Daly River 2018

Post by NinjaFish » Mon Dec 24, 2018 9:37 am

Very insightful reading WW and great to see another post. :cheers:

I assume the water temp must be around 33 and the fish a bit lethargic too.

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Re: Daly River 2018

Post by Matt Flynn » Mon Dec 24, 2018 10:43 am

Nice read WW.

Can confirm a shift in climate where I live. Older locals say things are different. Also a shortfall of trout in the side creeks of the local river, just 20 years ago the creeks were described in books as "teeming" with small trout.

Bloke told me a local creek froze over 40 years ago. Can't see that happening again.

They almost drained the hydro dams dry three years ago, had to bring in gensets.

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