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ARNHEMLAND ADVENTURE

Shaun Taylor

My last adventure in the Northern Territory provided the chance to show a mate the area, and hopefully some good fishing! After my guiding commitments were finished my good mate Hutch was flying in for a week's camping by boat along the remote Arnhemland coast. After ten days of guiding in the area I was super keen to get out there and catch a few myself.

Despite some unfavourable weather in the previous couple of days, fortune favoured us, as the first morning Hutch and I took off on a calm sea for the 70 km run to our first destination. I planned to show Hutch as much of the area as possible, so a two day trip up to the Goomadeer River and Junction Bay was first on the list. This area has sustained some awesome cyclone damage in the past and amazes you when you first see it. The fishing options are also varied, with flats and shallow coastal creeks, as well as rock bars, snag fishing and of course hundreds of run in creeks and junctions.

I headed straight to an area that had been productive on big fish in the past, but after working it for a while for only a couple of trevally,  I decided to push up the river and fish some small drains and creeks that were running out into the main river. We rigged with ZMan 3" MinnowZ on ChinlockZ hooks, rigged weedless to allow us to get in amongst the snags and stick piles without constantly snagging up. This proved a good move as there were plenty of barra hanging around, as well as some nice size tarpon and a few jacks and small fingermark.

After the action slowed we headed back to a side creek, just inside the mouth, where jelly prawns were getting smashed along the banks. We quickly positioned ourselves amongst the action on the opposite bank to a small double drain and all looked good. It was an incredible scene as large threadies pushed themselves out of the water and up the mud banks in their pursuit of the jelly prawns! Catching them however proved difficult and believe me we tried everything in our arsenal of tackle. The Barra were still liking our offerings, but the threadies were totally zoned in on the tiny prawns.

It had been a good introduction to the area for Hutch and as dusk was approaching we headed out to a small beach just inside a headland where we cooked t-bones on the fire and planned the next day's fishing.

The wind increased overnight, and with a weather change imminent we thought it wise to head back a bit closer to base, as a 70km ocean run in a barra boat in rough seas is not much fun... I've found this out the hard way!

Safely back at camp we enjoyed some good food and drink, and again planned our next move. I had been saving the best for last and my favourite coastal creek was the destination for our next overnighter. The wind was still up, but at least we were running with it and once inside the creek we would be well protected. We made an early start and hugging the coastline we ran the 40kms into the magic little coastal creek.

I have written about this spot before, as it has turned on many awesome sessions for me in the past, as well as being a very picturesque area, with many crocs, amazing bird life and several beaches up in the creek that make good spots to cook a feed. It also has a section of large trees that hang out well over the water, providing welcome shade in the middle of a harsh Arnhemland day. We played around the front of the creek, catching some nice barra on shallow divers, before moving up the creek to try a few of my old favourites.

It was surprisingly quiet at some of my best spots and I must admit I was getting a bit worried as we ventured right up to the last junction in the creek before we would have to start pushing through trees.

I changed to a Rootbeer Gold 3" MinnowZ, while Hutch went for a Pearl ZMan 4" SwimmerZ. I pointed him into the large mangrove root bank that separated the creek arms and was relieved when his first cast was smashed on the drop by a hungry barra! My plastic suffered the same fate and from then on the day was a constant blur of double hook ups and jumping barra! We tried a variety of techniques and as one would go quiet, a change back to a 3" MinnowZ would trigger the bite again.

It was just as the tide had turned to run out, Hutch had hurriedly re-tied after a bust off and had forgot to add a sinker to his loop knot. The 4" SwimmerZ was now weightless. He fired it in under the mangroves and as we watched it seductively swim back out from the bank, just under the surface, it was boofed right before our eyes!

This of course was all I needed to change to a surface lure and while Hutchy kept smacking them on his Pearl SwimmerZ, I tried a small walk the dog hardbody. Mixed in with the barra were a few jacks, fingermark and some of the biggest crazy blue salmon I have ever seen. I have caught them up to 90 cm and some of these fish were well over a metre!

Anyone who has tangled with these pyscho-salmon before will know how hard they can go and I really wanted to nail one of these horses. I could only manage a smaller model, as the big fish were charging our smaller hooked fish, but didn't want to take a lure. Oh well, we would have to be content with double hook ups on barra on the surface to keep us interested!

I don't want to sound soft, but I was buggered! We had kept a tally, calling each fish out as we released it and we ended on 114 barra for the day, a handful of jacks, fingermark, cod, tarpon, blue salmon, queenfish, trevally and even a flathead, which Hutch found very amusing. Over half these fish were caught on our 3 inch and 4 inch ZMan plastics rigged on TT HeadlockZ HD and ChinlockZ heads. The rest were caught mostly on poppers, fizzerz, and walk the dogs. I would have liked to have some FrogZ with me, as I'm sure they would have done the job.

We ran the shallow creek back out to a small beach inside the mouth and cooked a barra and a jack in the coals for dinner. It was the nicest barra I have eaten, as I don't usually rate them much as a table fish. It had been an amazing day and I was stoked for my mate to see in person the fishing I had been telling him about for years.

Once again my favourite ZMan 3" MinnowZ had performed everywhere we fished; not only in the mad sessions when the fish were on the chew, but also when the going got tough and bites were hard to come by... it was the trusty MinnowZ that did the job for us!

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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2017