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Ben Deneen

Part way through my tour of duty in Gove, NT, things were going quite nicely. We were making good progress chipping away at our projects and we were consistently being spoilt by some of the best land based fishing Australia has to offer. It was about then that the old saying "something's only worth what someone's willing to pay" finally worked in my favour! One of the boys from the crew picked up a 4m tinny and a clunky old 25hp two-stroke Johnson on a trailer for the grand total of 500 bucks, and it floated! After couple of afternoons on the tools around camp, a few beers and some bush mechanics, we had the old Johnno singing like a bird!

Saturday afternoon finally came around and had us chomping at the bit! A locally based work colleague, with quite the fishing reputation, was kind enough to part with a couple of GPS points within reach of out modest fishing platform. Although nothing flash, they would be somewhere to start. Armed also with his portable sounder and handheld GPS, we set off towards the bright lights of the ship loader in search of some livies. The squid jigs turned out to be a complete waste of time, our only luck coming in the form of a dozen or so herring that fell to our one and only bait jig. As we didn't plan on being out all night, a dozen would do.

The short trip across Melville Harbour was quite pleasant, and before long we were nearing our first mark, an old trawler wreck sitting on the bottom in about 12m of water. Sure enough as we went over the mark a nice lump appeared on the sounder, so we set about dropping the anchor and drifting onto the spot. We soon found out our livies had become 'deadies,' but with no other option, the first baits were on their way down. They didn't last!

Soon after, the three of us were all fighting fish. As they hit the rotting timber deck, the sight of a black jew, a fingermark and a nannygai had us high-fiving and yahooing, not to mention our mouths watering! They weren't big fish by anyone's standards but we were just so happy our plan had come together successfully. The action did slow slightly over the next half hour but the fish kept ticking over, mainly nannys, until the bait bucket was empty and we headed back to camp.

During the following week we were given the heads up on a creek over the other side of the harbour that had a big rock bar out front and barra living on it. A Gove barramundi was on the to-do list for us all so it didn't take much for us to agree on our next trip. As the sun rose on the Sunday morning we found ourselves bumping across the bay with the trusty old two-stroke going flat stick. We'd been given rough directions on how to get there and we spent most of the morning poking in and out of shallow creeks looking for the one with an obvious rock bar out the front. Come ten o'clock, we only had a couple of queenies and little mangrove jack to our names from a rocky point and we were all getting a bit sick of searching for this seemingly mythical creek. The decision was made to cast net some mullet around some mangrove fringes and head back to the wreck where we'd had success the weekend before.

Before long we were anchored up on the spot and the boys were rigged and ready. Being more traditional bait fishos they were right at home, but I was keen to try something different. I rummaged through my tackle bag and found a handful of TT jigheads and the scraps of what used to be a healthy collection of ZMan plastics. The first jigheads I decided to put into action were the 3/8oz TT Rev Head jigheads. They had worked well before on impoundment bass and I thought the extra flash and vibration of the gold Colorado blade could only work in my favour. I matched them with ZMan 3" MinnowZ and they were a hit! I easily went fish-for-fish with the bait boys, mainly on smallish nannys. With such limited supplies, I really began to appreciate the toughness of the ZMan tails! The same lures caught fish after fish until a snag and bust off forced me to go looking for some other options! 

The only heads I had left were standard TT Tournament Series 1/2oz 5/0s, so I threaded on a ZMan 5" StreakZ in Bubble Gum and was back in action. I figured the heavier head and faster sink rate would create a slightly less natural presentation. To try and combat this, once the plastic reached the bottom I would lift it about a metre, then dead-stick it with the odd shake thrown in, much like I would of done drifting the deep waters of the Tweed chasing bream, only on a bigger scale. It didn't take long before I was punching well above my weight against a fish stronger than any I'd hooked all day. After a battle that went back and forth numerous times, a beautiful coral trout slid into the net and was easily fish of the day at 66cm.

I seriously considered calling it a day. I have a habit of doing that, packing up and ending the day's fishing on a good note! But the other boys had a couple of baits left so I went back for another drop. After snagging and losing my last StreakZ, I decided to try out a scented ZMan 5" Scented PaddlerZ in the Electric Chicken colour. It was one my cousin Josh had been raving about, so down it went hanging off another 1/2oz jighead. Fishing it in the same style as mentioned before, it got eaten first lift! This felt like another good fish but I unfortunately went too hard and pulled the hook. When there are fish like coral trout around, it's go hard or go home! A couple of drops later I hooked up again and after a speedy first run and a fairly clean fight, we were all surprised to see a nice little Spaniard come boat side. Luckily it was pinned perfectly in the top lip, no doubt the only reason this mackerel was landed on a 15kg fluorocarbon leader.

With the boys out of baits, I was more than happy to head for the ramp. It was really starting to warm up, we were all a bit peckish and lunch at the camp finished at 1!

At the camp BBQs that night, over a couple of beers and some fresh jewie and trout fillets, we got to wondering about the quality of fish out there for the blokes with big boats. If we could pull quality fish from a well known wreck, less than a kilometre from the ramp, imagine some of the beasts lurking out wider! The local stories and photo boards do give us some idea but it's hard not to dream about being out there yourself, locked up to a metre long fingermark, or struggling to get a bait through a school of Spaniards in order to hook a big red! It truly is a magical part of the world and somewhere I certainly would recommend to anybody if given the chance!

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