Top of the Tide Fishing

Top of the Tide fishing for Barramundi on Spring Tides in tidal creeks and barrages can land massive metre-plus barra, but requires local knowledge and skills.

118cm Barramundi
118cm Barramundi

Barra Fisherman Nathan Litjens has extensive experience chasing barramundi in the tropical, tidal waters of the Northern Territory. In these three articles he explains how to make the most of these unique conditions along the NT coastal rivers.

"TOT, to Darwin dwellers might bring up images of things other than fishing, but to the switched-on Barra angler, the Top of the Tide or TOT for short can be a time of rich fishing opportunities."

Leaping fish
Top of the Tide Barramundi

So, what do I mean by Top of the Tide (TOT)? For the newcomers, it's the time at the peak of the tide when it has finished creeping in, and is just about to turn and fall again. It's a time of slack water, and if you've picked the right tides and places lots of big, boofing Barra feeding on baitfish soup.

Here I will focus on three types of locality that are different in many ways, but are remarkably similar to fish.

The first is the humble Coastal Creek. At the end of the Wet Season, the coastal floodplains are drained by small mangrove-lined creeks that empty directly into the sea. Around Shady Camp, the most famous are Swim, Carmor and Marsh Creeks.

Shady Camp mudflats
Mudflats become feeding grounds
at the Top of the Tide.

The second area we will focus on are the vast areas of salt flats and dead timber such as those higher up in the Shady Camp system, especially those that drain into Tommycut Creek. These are typically dead flat, muddy, salty areas that have a coating of saltwater couch grass and dead trees. They are drained by many small creeks that are like a maze to navigate. At a glance I would say these places look almost post-apocalyptic.

The third are the barrages, such as those so well known to those that fish Shady Camp.

Leaping fish
Good Barra are caught at TOT

Despite appearances, very large captures of fish happen in these areas on the correct tides.

So what makes a good tide? Typically you want the big tides, normally the biggest Spring tides in the cycle.

How to fish the Top Of the Tide

Choosing your Barra Lures

As seen on the front page of NT&NQ Fish & Bait Magazine in Jan 2011

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