Crazy Fishing

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana

One stop on our Helifish Trip made for some crazy fishing. As the crow flies (or as the R44 Helicopter flies), we were about 90 miles Southwest of Darwin just south of Point Scott and the Daly River. As we left the beach and flew inland over tight thickets of Mangroves that hugged the Moyle River, the terrain opened up into a massive grass covered floodplain. The Moyle below appeared as a narrow creek, much too small to be of any fishing interest. Baz, our pilot made a few passes around the headwaters checking for crocs. None to be seen, so we sat down at a fork in the river. This was soggy ground and not unlike tundra in the north. The river was flowing heavily with a tannic colored water and although it wasn’t much more than 10 feet wide, it was not something you’d try to wade in. When we landed, the river was about five feet below the steep, muddy banks but rising steadily as the tide pushed in. At high tide, even though we were a mile inland, the tide would probably reach the floodplain.

As we started to fish, it was immediately evident that Barra had moved into the river. In just about every eddy, a fly placed close to the bank would get a strike. Once hooked, my eight weight was more than adequate to tame the Barra, although many times that required slogging downstream along the muddy banks to subdue the fish. At the point where the Moyle begins, the water flows off the floodplain in a miniature waterfall. A number of Barra were caught here in the deep eddys. During the wet, the floodplains become breeding grounds for all manner of baitfish, crustaceans and aquatic insects. This year, the Wet was mild and the floodplains held less water than normal. In a normal year, the water in the photo above might be six inches deeper on the floodplain. The Barra move up these rivers to feed on the bounty flowing off the floodplain.

We hung around the Moyle for about an hour and connected with lot of fish and broke off a few as well. I even caught a Boofhead Catfish. I retrospect it was not only crazy fishing, but hard work as well. The footing was slippery and slogging through the soft, wet grass was very taxing in the extreme heat and humidity, especially trying to control a tough Barra in the narrow creek. I was whipped after an hour of hard fishing. The Pink Thing fly worked well here and I left a few attached to some big Barra.

As a streamer angler by heart, this was some crazy fishing. A small, ragging creek. Tannic waters, sloppy footing in the middle of nowhere. You could toss a large streamer just about anywhere and connect with a big fish, can’t get much crazier than that.

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