In Darwin and at Dundee Beach we have 3 main fishing seasons suitable for barramundi, reef & game fishing. These are the best times to plan a Darwin fishing trip. The wet season is not included, as fishing conditions at Dundee Beach can be less than ideal due to unpredictable weather conditions including the possibility of cyclones. The experienced crew at Dundee Beach Boat Hire can help with choosing the best time of year and tides plan a great fishing trip.

  • Run-off:  March – May

  • Dry Season: June – September

  • Build-up: October – December.

The following information is a guide to fishing opportunities available in in each of these.


Barramundi fishing:

Between March and May the rain eases as the monsoon dissipates. The big rivers start to regain their shape as the floodplains drain into the sea. Known as the 'Run-Off', it is unquestionably the best time for barramundi fishing.


Well, firstly, the barra still up on the floodplains or in the channels must move out into the main river before water levels become too low. And they must pass through creek mouths to do this. Which is lucky for us!

Secondly, all other aquatic life must make the same timely exit. Small fish, tadpoles and crustaceans are pushed  downstream, where they can be ambushed by hungry barramundi in the creek mouths.

Bluewater fishing:

The run-off is also a great time of year for blue-water fishing across the Top End. Calm seas often prevail, as the strong northerly winds of the wet season have finished, and the easterlies of the dry season have yet to start.

Both reef and game fish are active in the warm blue water at this time of year. They also benefit from all the food being flushed down the rivers and out to sea. Here, you can target pelagic species like queenfish and giant trevally (GT’s) as well as reef fish such as golden snapper and black jewfish.

Out slightly wider offshore, species such as coral trout and red emperor are also very active in the warm water. Wide of Dundee, big schools of longtail tuna are often seen surface-feeding on large bait balls, and sailfish can also be found feeding on the bait balls.

Dry Season

Our Dry lasts from the end of May to September in the Northern Territory, and you can almost bank on a clear blue sky, a light south-easterly breeze and a sensational sunset — every day!

This season is also the peak blue-water fishing season. Huge numbers of spanish mackerel are often attracted by the bait fish schools along the Top End coast at this time of year, as are other pelagic species such as sailfish. longtail tuna, cobia, queenfish and giant and golden trevally commonly travel side-by-side as they work the bait schools. For the dedicated angler, this time of year presents a great opportunity to land a host of exciting species.

Reef fishing for quality table-fish also heats up during the Dry. Popular species like golden and tricky Snapper, black jewfish, coral trout and red emperor are readily caught on both inshore and offshore reefs.

This is also the perfect time of year to explore the variety of habitats favoured by barramundi. The Finniss River continues to provide quality barra fishing well into the dry season. Coastal mangrove estuaries and creeks are also prime barramundi habitats.


The Build-Up lasts from October to December. This is the pre-monsoon season— rain is on its way and humidity is rising. Conditions are hot and sticky until the monsoon rains arrive in late December.

The Build-Up can produce the best fishing of the year in the Top End. The increasing cloud-cover and rainfall ignites barra action, especially in the saltwater estuaries and lower tidal river reaches.

The breeding season for barramundi begins around October each year, with big female breeders and smaller mature males congregating around river mouths and estuaries to spawn. This is a prime time of year to target saltwater barra, tides and conditions are often perfect, and the fishing action can be fantastic.

Out on the blue-water, offshore conditions are generally the calmest of the year over this period, so it's often possible to travel long distances, targeting the Top End's best reef and game fish. spanish mackerel are still active at this time of year, and reef fish such as golden snapper and jewfish congregate in large numbers on the inshore reefs around Dundee Beach and Fog Bay. The Build-Up is often the best time to enjoy a long day’s reef fishing out of Dundee.

Darwin fishing seasons