Fishing in the Barra Build-up, Northern Territory

Yellow Waters Billabong, Kakadu National Park, NT. © Tourism Australia

Fishing in the Barra Build-up, Northern Territory

Snare a prize barramundi during the Northern Territory’s ‘build-up’. Lasting from October to December, this pre-monsoon season brings a barra bonanza to the billabongs and estuaries of the Top End. Discover the fishing hot-spots around Darwin Harbour or share the shore with professional anglers on the Daly River. Take a heli-fishing trip to Adelaide River or find the promised barra waters along Mary River. In World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, you can cast your line from a boat in South and East Alligator River.  Hire a boat, join a fishing charter with experienced guides or stay at a remote fishing lodge. However you angle it, a fishing holiday in the build-up offers both barramundi and the wild, natural beauty of the Top End.

From Darwin, you can take your pick of fishing charters and competent captains. Darwin Harbour itself is great for tuna and queenfish, but you’ll have to travel a little further for barramundi. Lure a few unsuspecting saltwater barramundi amongst the black jewfish and fingermark in nearby Shoal Bay. Or take a multi-day chartered adventure to Daly River for legendary estuary fishing. Sitting more than 200km south-west of Darwin, the Daly River attracts anglers from all over the county eager to bag a super-sized barramundi. 

In a three-day tour, you can also reach the Mary River system, which flows to the coast at Chambers Bay, and offers incredible fishing on all tides. Both the river and floodplains are great for barra, but you’ll hit the barramundi jackpot at Shady Camp, Corroboree Billabong, Hardies Lagoon and Tommycut Creek. The waters also teem with sleepy cod, saratoga and oxeye herring.

Get a new perspective on your fishing expeditions on a heli-fishing trip from Darwin to Adelaide River. Take in awe-inspiring aerial views of the Northern territory’s wetlands and watch buffalos and feral pigs bound away as you land the chopper.  Cast your lure from a croc-safe spot and listen for the trademark boofing sound of the barramundi hitting the line.

In World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, your fishing trip comes complete with spectacular scenery, migratory birds, crocodiles and wildlife. Join a half or full day fishing tour up South Alligator or East Alligator River from Jabiru. Yellow Waters on South Alligator River is a well-known barramundi haunt, particularly in the build-up to the wet season.

You’ll find rich barra stocks on Victoria River, the Northern Territory's longest river, which sits about 250km west of Katherine. Drive the Savannah Way to Timber Creek, the nearest angling access point.

In Arnhem Land, you can stay in a nature-lodge and join a barramundi or sports fishing safari in the teeming ocean, rivers and inland lagoons. Fly from Darwin to the remote fishing paradise Cape Don on the Cobourg Peninsula. Here giant barramundi share the waters with mangrove jack, queenfish, giant trevally, mackerel, tuna, golden snapper, coral trout, cod, barracuda and jewfish.

As well as a time of barra abundance, the build-up is also when a number of the state’s fishing tournaments are held. Join the Hummingbird Corroboree Park Challenge on Mary River in October. Or catch seven species of fish in three days at the Saltwater Fly Fishing Challenge on Darwin Harbour. It plays hosts to the Gold Billfish Classic later the same month.  Compete to hook the biggest barramundi in the Barra Bash on the Roper River in October. In November, you can battle barracuda, sailfish and marlin at Arnhem Land’s Gove Game Classic.

Head to the Northern Territory in the build-up, for a fishing holiday where the big barramundi hardly ever get away.

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