10 Mar 2020 | Fishing

Best Katherine Land based Fishing Spots

Best Katherine Land based Fishing Spots image

It’s no secret our team here at Rod and Rifle Tackle World are mad fishos. We love getting out on the water, enjoying time with family and friends, and hoping to snag the next big Barramundi.

Katherine is home to a number of fish-rich waterways and is a must visit spot on any NT fishing trip. If you’re new to fishing in Katherine, here are our recommendations for top local fishing spots in the area.

  • Knotts Crossing
  • Donkey Camp
  • Low Level ("Lowey")
  • Galloping Jacks (Crystal Rapids)

The above spots are all within a 15km radius of Katherine, so access is relatively easy. The issue with most of these spots (except the lowey) is that they are not fully sign posted so finding them can sometimes be difficult. Below we will help guide you to make it easier to locate them.

Always be croc-wise

Katherine waterways are a great place to fish, and the local crocodiles think so too. Whether you’re fishing from a boat or off the bank, always be conscious that you’re likely sharing the water with some of the largest and fiercest predators in the NT; saltwater crocodiles. In years gone by crocodiles were hunted almost to extinction, but since hunting was outlawed in the 80's the crocodiles have made a fierce come back. Here's an example: The section of water between the High level bridge (the main bridge on the Stuart Hwy) and the Low level bridge (3kms west of the town) had not had a crocodile removed from it for almost 19 years, then in 2019 in the space of 1 month 2 saltwater crocs were trapped and removed. When we were kids it was not uncommon for us to finish school jump in below the high level bridge and swim down the river to low level, these days i wouldn't even consider getting a stuck lure back from the water! It's just not worth the risk!

Knotts Crossing

Once the site of the original Katherine township and busy (relatively) primary river crossing, Knotts Crossing is now a great area for easy-to-access fishing in Katherine. To locate Knotts Crossing, you'll need to drive towards the hospital, just after the hospital on the left there is turn off, you need to head down there, this will take you past the hospital (it will be on your left) stay on that road and it will take you straight down to the car park for Knotts crossing.

Best Katherine Land based Fishing SpotsHighlighted in red is the road you need to take. Its a left turn after the hospital and just follow it down.

Best Katherine Land based Fishing SpotsThis is the left hand turn.

From the crossing, have a look at the water depth and decide whether to head up or down stream. Fish can be found all year round, but in the dry seasons you sometimes have to venture a little further to find deeper pools.

Fishing Knotts Crossing

Knotts Crossing fishes best just after the wet season. The weir (old crossing) can produce plenty of big Barramundi on both the top and bottom side if the water is running over. If the water is running flat then the river is a bit too high, but don’t give up straight away – the river can drop rapidly over just a few hours and you may find yourself in a perfect spot in no time. If you are looking to fish this spot in the dry season (april - sept) then you will need to walk upstream and fish the snags along the bank. Use a little hard body lure and work it through the timber, if you don't have any luck switch to a soft plastic. Try a weedless plastic so you can really get it into the timber, the fish will be lazy this time of year so you'll really need to hit them on the head to get them to bite.

Donkey Camp

Spanning across the Katherine River, the Donkey Camp weir is a great place to catch a Barramundi if you’re feeling a little adventurous.

To find Donkey camp you'll need to drive along the gorge road (also known as Giles street), Driving towards Nitmiluk and turning left at the white “Pandanus Farm” sign, you’ll find Donkey Camp. The Left hand turn is exactly 9.7kms from Rod & Rifle. So if you are having trouble finding it start at the front of our store and head straight for the gorge, this way you won't miss it.

Best Katherine Land based Fishing SpotsThis is the turn off you are looking for.

Please drive slowly along this road and respect the people that live nearby, as they won't appreciate the dust if you are speeding down the dirt road.

If you’re fishing on foot be very careful walking out onto the weir (about a foot wide walkway that usually has water running over it) and cast down stream.

Best Katherine Land based Fishing SpotsThe weir - this is the perfect height to be fishing it!

Be aware that large crocodiles have been pulled from this area.

Best Katherine Land based Fishing SpotsThe spill way gate in the middle of the wall can be a challenge to navigate sometimes, so take care when trying to traverse it. The best fishing is usually over the other side of the river.

Fishing Donkey Camp

The best height to fish Donkey Camp is when you can only just walk out on the weir without being washed away (get those monkey toes gripping). Our tip is to use socks, which help grip to the slimy wall.

At the right height, lots of Barra congregate here as they hunt for bait fish that have just been washed over the wall. Look for any fast flowing areas of water and you’ll find Barra right next to them – waiting to ambush their prey.

For best results, use shallow running lures as these will avoid the mesh covered rock wall just below the weir and stop you from getting snagged. Believe us, you don’t want to enter the water here to unhook a snagged lure (crocs).

Best Katherine Land based Fishing SpotsThis little fella caught March 2020 using a small hard body in gold colour.

If you’re struggling to catch a fish you need to change your lure, you can't expect to leave 1 lure on all day and hope to catch a fish, you need to spark an interest in a fish by changing colours, sizes and types. Try everything from small hard bodies to soft plastics.

Low Level Recreation Area (“Lowey” to the locals)

Accessed from Zimin Drive, Low Level Recreation Area is a top land-based fishing spot. The river includes shallow and deeper sections (depending on the time of year). From the recreation area car park head down onto the sandy banks and pick your spot.

Our tip, head down stream from the carpark. If others are enjoying the area, find a quiet spot down river from the main area. There are plenty of deeper pools to drop a line in.

Fishing Lowey

Fishing Lowey is very similar to Knotts Crossing. If the water is at the right height you’ll find Barra stalking bait fish that get washed over the weir. Again, if the water is flat over the weir you need to try a different spot.

Be careful in this area as it’s an active road crossing. Always stay off the road and use the designated path on the side of the bridge.

Galloping Jacks (Crystal Rapids)

If you’ve got a 4WD or AWD vehicle you might want to venture down to Galloping Jacks. Most visitors to the area will end up at Crystal Rapids but if you keep driving down Cossack Road, past the Crystal Rapids gate, you’ll find another gate that enters into the lesser-known Galloping Jacks.

The track is pretty easy going in a car with a bit of clearance and grunt if you stick to the top of the river. You can drive down to the river banks, but the track gets a bit steep and sandy. Go as far as you’re comfortable with and walk the rest of the way.

Galloping Jacks is a great spot because it produces fish all year round (we’ve been down in the middle of the dry season and still found fish).

Fishing Galloping Jacks

The rocky and narrow areas of the Katherine River at Galloping Jacks attract small bait fish. That means the Barra are not far behind.

During the wet season, when the river is more swollen than usual, look for faster flowing water that slows into deeper pools or areas that have a large back eddy beside them. This is where you’ll find the Barra.

Use small hard bodies and soft plastics. If you don’t hook one soon, keep changing your lure as this ensures you cover all sorts of colours and sizes that may attract fish.

During the dry season you’ll need to look a bit harder for the deeper water. Both up and down stream you may find deeper areas with some structure that could be holding Barra.

Venturing Further

Beyond these four local spots, Katherine can serve as your “home base” for larger fishing trips into some of the NT’s best fishing areas. Top spots accessible from Katherine are:

  • Victoria River region (west of Katherine)
  • Daly River (north-west of Katherine)
  • Kakadu (north-east of Katherine)
  • Roper River and Borroloola region (south-east of Katherine)

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