Cleaning up on the NT bluewater scene

It’s been a long time between post for me, partly due to the dry season ‘cold snap’ where the barra shut down when the water gets below a chilly 26 degrees, and a hectic work schedule.

Last weekend made up for my lack of fishing action though. I don’t know if it was the mega full moon, big tides or the remoteness of the waters but the fish were on the chew and the variety of species and techniques that we used was enough to fill a fishing DVD.

I can only think of so many descriptors to describe fully sick, off its face piscatorial madness so I’ll let the photos and captions tell the story…

67km of corrugated dirt road is enough to put most punters off!
67km of corrugated dirt road is enough to put most punters off!

 

It was a surprise to find one of the better ramps in the NT out there. Maybe it has something to do with the sandfly population - you've really got to get in and out quick or have the life sucked out of you. Lena suffered from two days of itch induced psychosis after our trip!
It was a surprise to find one of the better ramps in the NT out there. Maybe it has something to do with the sandfly population – you’ve really got to get in and out quick or have the life sucked out of you. Lena suffered from two days of itch induced psychosis after our trip!
Heading out to a likely looking contour on the sounder we came across sights like this. The red bobs are bait, the squiggly lines are predators (probably macks or trevally). The scene was set for a good time.
Heading out to a likely looking contour on the sounder we came across this. The red blobs are bait, the squiggly lines are predators (probably macks or trevally). The scene was set for a good time.
First fish of the day was a little Mackerel. We trolled for a fair while looking for a bigger version but the pelagics were scattered as the bait was everywhere and we couldn't hook a solid version.
First fish of the day was a little Mackerel. We trolled for a fair while looking for a bigger version but the pelagics were scattered as the bait was everywhere and we couldn’t hook a solid version.
We dragged lures around the back of Peron Island South and found a reefy patch that the current was swirling over. It stank of macky potential but this solid cod beat them to the fast trolled halco. These shallow running lures  (in Qantas colours) are my go to lure for pelagics up here).
We dragged lures around the back of Peron Island South and found a reefy patch that the current was swirling over. It stank of macky potential but this solid cod beat them to the fast trolled Halco. These shallow running lures (in Qantas colours) are my go to lure for pelagics up here.
Whitebait smells funny when a cod spews it all over the carpet inside the boat! The size of the bait may explain why we struggled to tempt the pelagics with our big lures - they were feasting on the small stuff.
Whitebait smells funny when a cod spews it all over the carpet inside the boat! The size of the bait may explain why we struggled to tempt the pelagics with our big lures – they were feasting on the small stuff.
Lena was feeling a bit quesy from the confused sea so we got in close to the island and spotted some beautiful sandbars. I was keen to moor the boat and cast off the shore in the hope that the fish would be on the flats on the incoming tide. We didn't make it in to shore though because a big Macky swam under the boat. We dropped the electric motor in, tied on the big poppers and let them rip. What followed was one of the hottest sessions I've seen.
Lena was feeling a bit quesy from the confused sea so we got in close to the island and spotted some beautiful sandbars. I was keen to moor the boat and cast off the shore in the hope that the fish would be on the flats on the incoming tide. We didn’t make it in to shore though because a big Macky swam under the boat. We dropped the electric motor in, tied on the big poppers and let them rip. What followed was one of the hottest sessions I’ve seen.

 

The Queenys were thick and they fought over our poppers to the extent that if we dropped on another had already pounced on it before we had time to reel in the slack line! Here's Lena with her best fish to date (bang on the 1m mark) and it came from a triple hookup where Lena, Anna (in another boat) and I were on at the same time. This one became fish curry and nummas that night. We stopped fishing after a fish each because they fight so hard, including jumping all over the shop, that they burn themselves out too much to release. I took the hooks off my popper and watched them fight over the bare lure. Sensational fishing!
The Queenys were thick and they fought over our poppers to the extent that if we dropped one another had already pounced on it before we had time to reel in the slack line! Here’s Lena with her best fish to date (bang on the 1m mark) and it came from a triple hookup where Lena, Anna (in another boat) and I were on at the same time. This one became fish curry and nummas that night. We stopped fishing after a fish each because they fight so hard, including jumping all over the shop, that they burn themselves out too much to release. I took the hooks off my popper and watched them fight over the bare lure. Sensational fishing!

 

With our hit of surface action we headed out to Bateman Shoal about 8km offshore and found some Grassy Emperor that were keen to eat anything we dropped to the bottom
With our hit of surface action we headed out to Bateman Shoal about 8km offshore and found some Grassy Emperor that were keen to eat anything we dropped to the bottom
They called it a 'Super Moon'. Not sure why but it lit up the water while we pulled some crab pots we'd dropped on our way out. We snagged one big crab using my new favourite bait - those little blood bags that they package chicken with.
They called it a ‘Super Moon’. Not sure why but it lit up the water while we pulled some crab pots we’d dropped on our way out. We snagged one big crab using my new favourite bait – those little blood bags that they package chicken with.
The new day arrived and we had a plan to head to Sail City in search of the elusive Macky. The weather was not in our favour though so we had to change our plan and I picked a spot that looked promising on the chart. It was a little trench surrounded by shallower reef and it produced the goods. This trout was first off the mark and I get hungry just looking at the photo. We don't get the huge red ones you see from the Great Barrier Reef but we also don't have the sae ciguatera poisoning risk so who's complaining?
The new day arrived and we had a plan to head to Sail City in search of the elusive Macky. The weather was not in our favour though so we had to change our plan and I picked a spot that looked promising on the chart. It was a little trench surrounded by shallower reef and it produced the goods. This trout was first off the mark and I get hungry just looking at the photo. We don’t get the huge red ones you see from the Great Barrier Reef but we also don’t have the sae ciguatera poisoning risk so who’s complaining?

While we didn’t make it to Sail City I have already written a blog about a great session we had at this this pelagic magnet before and you can read it here.

Emperor from the trench! This solid one was on a soft plastic that I bounced along the bottom.
Emperor from the trench! This solid one was tempted a soft plastic that I bounced along the bottom.
Lena nearly got pulled overboard by this huge cod we found in the trench. It's reassuring to see cod this size because they are often the first to disappear from heavily fished areas. Doing the exploring on your own and not just going to other peoples GPS waypoints can really pay off.
Lena nearly got pulled overboard by this huge cod we found in the trench. It’s reassuring to see cod this size because they are often the first to disappear from heavily fished areas. Doing the exploring on your own and not just going to other peoples GPS waypoints can really pay off.
IMAG1401
This pretty much sums up the trip. Bent rods and big smiles!
We shifted reefs to some shallower water because we had enough for a feed and in less than 10m the fish are much less likely to suffer barotrauma which is a fatal condition caused by pulling a fish up from the depths. It was quiet at first and then all three rods we had hooked up (two baits and one plastic). Lena was the only one that managed to land one and pulled in this nice trevally (as if we hadn't ticked off enough species already!)
We shifted reefs to some shallower water because we had enough for a feed and in less than 10m the fish are much less likely to suffer barotrauma which is a fatal condition caused by pulling a fish up from the depths. It was quiet at first and then all three rods hooked up (two baits and one plastic). Lena was the only one that managed to land one and pulled in this nice trevally (as if we hadn’t ticked off enough species already!)
With all this fish catching it was getting hot (and I needed a wash bought on from two days of camping so I jumped overboard in my birthday suit. Long swims aren't the norm up here - sharks crocs and jellyfish come to mind, so I was quickly back in the boat and feeling refreshed. As it happens the sounder lit up with a school of fish (probably attracted by the rankness I had just washed off) so I grabbed the nearest rod and jigged a slice off the bottom. It was a laugh when straight away a trevally jumped on and dragged me around the boat. It won't win any OH&S awards but it was a classic moment.
With all this fish catching it was getting hot (and I needed a wash bought on from two days of camping) so I jumped overboard in my birthday suit. Long swims aren’t the norm up here – sharks crocs and jellyfish come to mind, so I was quickly back in the boat and feeling refreshed. As it happens the sounder lit up with a school of fish (probably attracted by the rankness I had just washed off) so I grabbed the nearest rod and jigged a slice off the bottom. It was a laugh when straight away a trevally jumped on and dragged me around the boat. It won’t win any OH&S awards but it was a classic moment.
As the sun set on our Channel Pt safari we wondered how it could ever take so long to come to this special corner of the territory. I've alrady got the next couple of trips in mind, one will be to show some mates from work that fishing does't have to be all about barra and the other will be to drop off some fuel so we can use the place as a stop off point on our way to the mouth of the Daly River next runoff. At that time of the year all roads will be shut and we will make the trip around from Dundee to target bluewater and barra in the same day.
As the sun set on our Channel Pt safari we wondered how it could ever take so long to come to this special corner of the territory. I’ve alrady got the next couple of trips in mind, one will be to show some mates from work that fishing does’t have to be all about barra and the other will be to drop off some fuel so we can use the place as a stop off point on our way to the mouth of the Daly River next runoff. At that time of the year all roads will be shut and we will make the trip around from Dundee to target bluewater and barra in the same day.

 

Thanks for reading people and well done to Graz, Hamish and Lee for keeping the blog going strong in my absence.

Dan

 

flickandflyjournal.com

Hamish Webb, Dan Firth, Graham Fifield and Lee Georgeson have been fishing the south-east Australian region since 1987. Since then they’ve become avid sportfishermen who are constantly looking for new ways to challenge themselves. They are all scientists and conservationists who are passionate about the long-term sustainability of the ecosystem in which they live. They promote understanding and appreciation of the complex socio-political, economic and environmental issues surrounding fish, fishing and fisheries, while never losing sight of the various motivations that keep them coming back. In English, that means they love all things fishing and have a damn good time on the water, and that’s all that really counts in the end!

One thought on “Cleaning up on the NT bluewater scene

  • July 19, 2014 at 8:52 pm
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    Mate this trip of yours makes me dream, as I can’t hook on anything decent at the moment.
    Well done on you all!

    Reply

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