The Roper is a huge river draining a vast area of the central and eastern Northern Territory. It is fed by Elsey Creek in the Mataranka region which, in turn, is fed by Birdum Creek rising near Daly Waters. The Roper flows some 250 km before reaching the Gulf of Carpentaria.
The Roper is famous for its barra fishing and offers both tidal river and billabong options. It is home to some monster barra and fish over 30 kg are caught there. Below Roper Bar, it provides great lure fishing during the wet season run-off and anglers catch terrific barra right through the dry season on live bait — mainly freshwater prawns known as cherabin.
Most of the fishing takes place below Roper Bar, which is a natural rock crossing separating the saltwater and freshwater sections of the river, but there is good fishing throughout its length at the right times of year. In the dry season, the river between Roper Bar and Mataranka becomes a series of segmented, freshwater billabongs but public access is limited to only a few of these waterholes. At Roper Bar there is a caravan park and a store with basic supplies including ice and fuel.
The tidal section of the Roper is huge and it is home to all the Top End’s popular saltwater estuary species. Mud crabs are abundant, barramundi are common and big jewfish and threadfin salmon also provide mixed bags closer to the mouth. The lower section of the Roper adjoins the new Limmen National Park which also covers major portions the Hodgson, Towns, Limmen Bight, Cox and Nathan Rivers. Guided fishing is available on the Roper.
Fish to Catch
Barramundi, threadfin and blue salmon, black jewfish, cod, groper, giant trevally, golden snapper, queenfish, and mud crabs.
When to Catch Them
Throughout the year except during periods of high, wet season flooding.
It is about 280 km from Katherine via the Stuart and Roper Highways to Roper Bar. The road is mostly sealed although there is a substantial dirt section at the Roper Bar end. The Roper Highway is usually closed for most of the wet season. There is a concrete boat ramp at Roper Bar, another at St Vidgeon Station about 45 km down the Nathan River Road and another at No 1 Landing about 15 km inside the Roper’s mouth. Tips for the Traveller From above Roper Bar to the coast, the river marks the border of Arnhem Land Aboriginal Land Trust territory and a permit is required to enter.