Daly River 2021

And jacks, salmon, jewfish - tell us how you went. NT, FNQ and Norwest.
wonderwobler
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Daly River 2021

Post by wonderwobler » Fri Jan 29, 2021 11:07 am

Wishful thinking largely belongs to the glass half full mob. Optimistic beliefs are undoubtedly better for one’s mental health and general demeanor, a smile is easier to do than a frown. A realistic approach is also necessary for mental wellbeing. The ups and downs of life are inevitable.
The river I live on experiences the ups and downs that then has influence on my ups and downs. I’m not a glass half full bloke, but I do prefer to smile and I am a realist.

As part of the fishing grape vine I get a few enquiries from locals and different parts of the country wanting my opinion regarding the river conditions and fishing prospects.
Without exception the conversation begins with their belief that the current wet is a ripper and the runoff should be great with the river teaming with fish.
Even though I try my best it is difficult for me to respond without sounding like a dooms day prophet.

Firstly I explain that the rain fall in Darwin has no effect on any river systems. While there is some decent falls, the rain is patchy and the general river catchment to date is well below its average. River height is also below average and has only reached the crucial fish recruitment height of 8meters for a total of 5 days so far.

The country was so dry that the flood plains have absorbed most of the rain so far and without constant monsoonal falls have yet to begin to properly flood. Couple that with the low river height not back flooding into the billabongs is not the scenario for a productive run off.

With the poor to non-existent recruitment of fish over the past few years it is wishful thinking to expect that some water will somehow produce a river teaming with fish, the bio system is more complex than that and will take a fair bit of time and suitable conditions before an increase in the biomass occurs.

Add to this is the commercial harvest begins in a couple of days, the no bag limit or quota removal of hundreds of tons of Barra from a river environment that’s experiencing a down period in its life can’t be good now or in the future.

Ups and downs, everything is affected.



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Matt Flynn
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Re: Daly River 2021

Post by Matt Flynn » Fri Jan 29, 2021 12:23 pm

It is more than disappointing. I have attached a NOAA image showing the rainfall deficit anomaly from late December through to January. This is in a La Nina year when above-average monsoonal rainfall was expected, after consecutive poor wet seasons.

The Australian Government climate change website says rainfall projections for the monsoonal Far North are not known, it could go either way.

We may now be seeing which way it is going.

Interestingly, what you mention about the rain being soaked up is happening here in Tasmania. The soil dryness index tells the story, but anecdotally - as often happens now - there was a week of drizzle and at the end of it I put a spade in and the soil was dust. When I first moved here the paddocks turned to mush from drizzle, this has not happened for several years. Natural variability ? Maybe, but it fits the drying trend reported in many places.

The interplay of various factors into increased evaporation will do the damage under climate change, IMO. The combined effect of increased wind (shown in data, and noticed anecdotally here on the farm), higher temperatures (shown in data), and the fact that most annual rain now falls here in spring (also shown in data) affects plant growth and the dryness of forest fire fuel.

Even if annual rainfall stays the same, there will be more evaporation, and if the rain all falls during a short period, the remainder of the year will be dry.

Still time for some Top End rain though, not good but better late than never ... glass is still half full :D

Links ...
https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/ ... soon.shtml
https://www.climatechangeinaustralia.go ... oltip=true
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Re: Daly River 2021

Post by semper » Fri Jan 29, 2021 4:31 pm

Thanks Wonderwobbler. it feels like a good wet season but like you said, rainfall in Darwin is meaningless, would be great if rainfall reports were more accessible in river catchments etc. I've seen maps of murray darling that indicate flow rates in river at different points and the tributaries. Is this measured in the daly or other rivers up here you know of?

What river heights you monitor to get an idea of river levels. eg (daly at daly river police station)

In regards to the 5 days above 8m, do you have a benchmark number of what normal wet season might be? or a good or bad?

cheers again, always enjoy reading the daly river updates

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Re: Daly River 2021

Post by Matt Flynn » Fri Jan 29, 2021 6:19 pm

For the Daly, the various gauging stations are shown on this map ... http://www.ntlis.nt.gov.au/mpds/get_file?file_id=4489

The latest BOM gauging station readings are here ... http://www.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/wrap_fwo.pl?IDD60022.html

This map has additional info that may be useful ... https://water.nt.gov.au/

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Re: Daly River 2021

Post by Matt Flynn » Sat Jan 30, 2021 6:39 am

This story reports that the massive and ongoing Arctic ice loss (not Antarctic) since 1998 has affected tropical weather, and might be the cause of more severe El Ninos ... https://insideclimatenews.org/news/2701 ... te-change/

I also found a paper that predicted the monsoon might in future years contract north of Australia towards the equator, unfortunately I can't find the link.

Looking at the rain radar this year, it looked like most of the cloud/rain has been around Darwin and just north of the coast, but not much on the inland catchments. All supports what WW and others see at the Daly.

Been very wet though in Darwin this January, but rivers have not risen much according to this ... http://www.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/wrap_fwo.pl?IDD60022.html

Good link here showing the typical annual movement of the Australia monsoon ... https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/ ... oons.shtml

Picture below just a screenshot of today's radar.
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Re: Daly River 2021

Post by nomad » Sat Jan 30, 2021 9:16 am

Thanks wonderwobbler
Can you advise what level and for how long the daly needs to rise for floodplains to get water over them and for recruitment of bait fish

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Re: Daly River 2021

Post by bigwoody » Thu Feb 04, 2021 12:46 pm

Looks like the only fish being caught will be in nets.
Optimistic Pessimist

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Re: Daly River 2021

Post by maxpower » Sun Feb 14, 2021 12:53 pm

Glass is half full for me. Time will tell.

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Re: Daly River 2021

Post by wonderwobler » Tue Feb 16, 2021 1:40 pm

The term “cricket scores” is sometimes used when describing fish captures, always related to particularly great sessions when the fishing is very good and the number of fish encountered is often lost count of.

Rare but memorable times.

At the moment my innings are looking like Dave Warner’s recent effort against India over summer, except he actually scored a few runs.
The plastic electronic box in my boat is keeping score, 0 for 286, that’s Barra and kilometers. I don’t count the usual bycatch of fish with spikes and teeth.

The river conditions are less than ideal, heights are fluctuating, and it’s difficult to find likely spots that may hold fish. I don’t waste time on creeks or drains that are flowing backward but concentrate my effort on eddies and still water created by the topography of the river, spots that I have hooked Barra in the past.

There’s no doubt that some spots are places fish will consistently hold in year after year, I think if you catch a fish in a particular spot there is some reason that fish was there and it pays to remember it.
The exception being transient fish moving with the tide when the random trolling method produces a few fish, I never hear of cricket scores being made though.

River conditions at present while being frustrating, do provide some optimism of things to come. The height has been over 10 meters at Mt. Nancar from around the 9th of Feb. My diary shows that the better fishing occurs when the river is at 10m or over for at least 6 weeks, the higher and longer the better.
The greater catchment area of the river has at least received a bit of rain and any rain fall from now on should make it into the river, although the Katherine district is still well down on average.

As for my effort at the crease it has been difficult to maintain motivation and concentration, there appears to be very little fish activity bait wise.

I have observed the migration upstream of baby Cherabin, don’t know how successful the spawning has been, I might have fluked the observation, being close to the river edge with a torch on a pitch black night is something I try to avoid.

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Re: Daly River 2021

Post by wonderwobler » Tue Mar 16, 2021 11:18 pm

A moderate flood of the river has come and gone, a four week flow of water is rapidly draining out. The window of opportunity at some creeks is very brief.
It’s not really practical or achievable to fish all the probable spots as the river heights fall creating run off possibilities, also not all the likely spots have fish.

I have landed a few fish, more misses than hits. There is a distinct lack of bait fish, the swarms of rainbow, gudgeons, scat, bony bream and tadpoles are missing, the usual species that spill out of the flooded billabongs, billabongs that had dried out over a three year drought.
There are tarpon fingerlings that have traveled up the river from the sea following the cherabin spawn, along with mullet in small numbers.

White birds are virtually nonexistent. These birds are a sure sign of the presence or otherwise of bait fish.
Another noticeable sign is boat traffic. It’s fairly obvious that there is more travelling than actual fishing occurring for some boats, skippers looking for run off opportunities that are holding fish. Unfortunately those few locations are popular and quickly become crowded. Some boats camp on location and hold position, some for multiple days.

Fish numbers appear to be down, no surprise given the last few years of no wet seasons, while this season might appear to be better I think it’s too late and not enough to make a lot of difference to the fishing this year, I’d like to be wrong.

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Re: Daly River 2021

Post by Matt Flynn » Wed Mar 17, 2021 8:41 am

Hopefully just part of a decadal cycle and not the result of this ... https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2 ... 111954.htm

With warming temperatures and higher wind speeds being recorded, along with changing rainfall patterns in some parts of Australia, a drying trend seems probable.

BOM has been reluctant to predict climate change impacts for northern Australia, saying rainfall might go either way.

What's the story with Top End threadies this year? I haven't been paying attention, are they about in usual numbers?

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Re: Daly River 2021

Post by stroma » Wed Mar 17, 2021 6:34 pm

There are reasonable numbers of threadies at the Daly mouth but I will agree with Wonderwobbler that the Barra numbers are noticeably depressed after a number of poor wets.

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Re: Daly River 2021

Post by wonderwobler » Tue Mar 30, 2021 10:00 am

The hour before dawn has me reaching for a blanket to warm my old bones, spear grass has golden tops of seed, the Dollar birds and Torres Straight Pigeons have departed. A sporadic gusty South East wind dries the country; the end of the wet has begun.

The river has been a bit unstable since the late rain got going and a brief flood occurred. When the river started to fall around the 7th of March the fish began to show their presence, and for a few days from the 11th, the river started to look like it might be fishable with creeks and drains discharging clean tannin water into the river, I landed a few fish as did others who put in the effort, the fishing was far from “hot” but at least there was fish to target.

Then the river quickly started to rise around the 17th and rose 4 meters in about three days and maintained that level until the 27th, this rise basically shut the fishing down. It also pumped dirty cool water back into the creeks.
The late brief rain did not put a large amount of water into the billabongs and creek systems; this surge of dirty water from the river back into a depleted clean water system, in my experience, reduces the opportunity of the current fall in the river to produce widespread fishing locations.

Easter is a couple of days away, the river will be at optimum levels for fishing, the armada of vessels that will descend on the river after a few years of nonevent wet seasons and virus pandemics will be, in my estimation, staggering.

I also think regrettably that many will not have a scale in their boat when they leave, a combination of a reduced Barra biomass and a spatial issue that is increasing will cause frustration and friction. Enjoyment will be down, safety issues will be up.

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Re: Daly River 2021

Post by Matt Flynn » Tue Mar 30, 2021 10:55 am

Informative report.
a spatial issue
Don't understand the argument that overpopulation isn't a thing.

Buley Rock Holes in Litchfield NP, a sh.tfight even 20 years ago.

I visited Fruit Bat Falls at Cape York Peninsula in the off season and the carpark was full.

Cradle Mountain down here has a conveyor-belt of coaches and tourist vehicles going through its own transit centre.

Howz the serenity indeed.

At least the virus slowed the madness down for a while.

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Re: Daly River 2021

Post by wonderwobler » Tue Mar 30, 2021 4:08 pm

April is a right off for anyone who's seeking a relaxing peaceful fishing experience.
Easter crowd and then three comps in a row with around 60 boats jostling for a spot to fish racing up and down the river for something to do and have a cooling breeze in your hair, as the music blaring overpowers the atmosphere of the natural environment.
Perhaps the weather will have the final say...http://www.bom.gov.au/australia/charts/ ... fresh+View

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