Chrome Overload – By Craig Latimore

The great NT runoff is over. If it wasn’t so depressing, I would laugh at that statement. In fact, it never really happened.

Every cyclone that formed in the monsoon trough dragged all the moisture away from the NT, and either down the East or West coasts of this great continent. Making it one of the driest wet seasons on record so far. In saying this, there is still some fresh coming down the big rivers, and while this is still occurring, it will create periods of cleaner water that will hold some large barramundi, both in size and numbers.

I recently went back to Shady Camp where the highly successful first round of the Top End Barra Series was held. That weekend was described as “chrome overload”. The moon and stars aligned and the barra went off. Including 5 meterys, 38 in the ’90s and 28 in the ’80s, and that was just for those in the competition. However, this subsequent trip was nothing like that. The previous week of high winds played havoc with the water clarity which made it hard to find aggressive feeding barramundi. They were still there. I could see them on the sounder. But most of them were shut down.


It took plenty of patience for that period in the tide when the run in of the salt water backed up the fresh enough for the sediment to drop out and clear the water. Even then, we would be trolling past small schools of 2-5 fish with little result, but eventually, we started to get some strikes. We did lose our first 3 fish which was seriously frustrating, but that probably had a lot to do with the barra weren’t really into it either. Instead of going gangbusters at the lure they were probably giving half strikes or hitting the lure with the sides of their heads, maybe as a sign of aggression rather than feeding.

I eventually got a big chrome mid 90’s barra to the side of the boat to see the Reidy’s Big Ass B52 in the back of her head. Just as she surfaced, the lure flew out, and this big barra sat there for what seemed like an eternity, but probably no more than a second. My super decky George just scooped her up. Talk about getting kissed on the old fella by the barra gods. A few cold beers followed that fish, let me tell you. It was then the flood gates opened, if only for a short period. George got a 91 then I followed with a 90 and 87. We also dropped just as many again.


The diamond in that session was that I had another mate (Tim) in his boat not 100m away trolling. He hooked up to a beast that they had to back up on in fear of being spooled. They landed her, and there was suddenly little girls screaming over the radio. The fish went 130cm and probably 60lb plus. Tim reckons it was a two-man lift, he nearly busted a pooper valve, and when she was on the brag mat, you couldn’t see the brag mat anymore. A genuine fish of a lifetime. It was caught on a Reidy’s Big Ass B52 (Colour unknown). I subsequently told Tim that we can no longer be friends.

That bite stopped just as abruptly as it started. The water colour hadn’t changed, but the fish just were not there. The sounder was like a barren wasteland. Suspecting that the fish had moved up river, I commenced a fast troll up the centre to try and find them. You would be surprised how quickly barra can move in the tide when they want to. It took a few hours, and I finally found them, but the water was filthy. We had to wait for the tide and hope that the water clarity improved like it did before.

It’s in this next hour waiting that you really need to make good decisions. After an hour of trolling over the same fish waiting for clear water you tend to say to yourself “maybe they are catfish”, or “maybe we should move to find clear water”, or “maybe I can’t read my sounder”. You know that if the water clears it will be a short bite, but this tide isn’t going to last forever. Self-doubt in your ability to read conditions, and the technology at hand creeps in. I chose to stay and am very glad that I did.


And, so was George. He scored his first metery at a healthy 102. It only took him 19 years. The following 90 mins was pretty epic. Multiple hookups and lost fish again, but several graced my deck in the high 80’s up to 97. All of the fish were caught on Reidy’s Big B52’s and Big Ass B52’s in colours Kryptonite, Tropical Thunder, SM and Cuss.

Unfortunately for me, I had the same Big Ass B52 in Kryptonite that I recently caught a 116 on. The rod buckled over, and a huge fish came out of the water flaring its gills, and then my line went limp. It had gill raked my leader. That would have made my epic day even better, but that’s barra fishing.

As I’m typing this, there is word of a low pressure in a weak monsoon trough approaching Darwin. Hopefully, it will dump a heap of rain on the flood plains. Although it will do nothing for breeding of bait on the flood plains to get true runoff fishing, it will, however, provide fresh water running down the big rivers to give us fishos some more clean water for a few more sets of tides.

If not, then there is always those monster black jew fish brutes to tangle with. They have been going mental of late around the greater Darwin area. But that’s a story for another time.