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Endylagout Island 2006

Mondo Rock

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OK, I figure it is time that I sit down and write out a few stories from my fishing holiday just passed.

It was one of those holidays that is so packed full of fishing that it seems like a mammoth task to document it all, but then I reckon that a condensed version will be more than sufficient to give you all a pretty good feel for what it was like. When I say ‘condensed’ I mean, well, we’ll see how I go but I warn you now that it’s unlikely this will be a short report!

I am lucky enough to have fallen in with a group of fishermen who make an annual pilgrimage to remote barra fishing camps somewhere up north each year. We’ve been to some awesome locations over the past decade or so, from Cape York to Kunnanurra – all in our quest to catch big barramundi in isolated and spectacular places. Other species are, of course, encountered on these religious journeys - but it is the mightiest of Australian Perch that remains our sole purpose whenever we throw a lure into the water.

This year we headed up to Endyalgout Island, just south of the Coburg Peninsula in the NT, to stay at Dennis Sten’s Big Barra camp. We’d actually stayed here two years previously and, for the first time ever in the history of our Tour, had liked it so much that we returned for another go. The island is remote – access is either by 18 hour drive from Darwin or by light plane landing on the flood plain out the back of the camp itself. We took the light plane option, being that we are completely soft in most respects.

The camp itself is perfectly appointed for a barra fishing camp – perched at the top of a shell-grit beach with the boats parked out the front and about a million kilometres of prime estuary shoreline right there in front of you.


To make things even better, there’s now a crabber living permanently at the camp and thus a pretty much endless supply of mud-crabs each night for dinner.


Each morning it was as simple as walking 20 metres from the mess tent to the boat, hopping in, and then cruising to the first snag of the day. Accommodation was in permanent, raised tents – basic but certainly better than some of the camps we’ve been to!

The fishing is, of course, exceptional – and better still is exactly the style that we’ve come to believe offers the biggest challenge and the greatest thrill. Casting hard-body lures at semi submerged snags or other structure and working them back towards the boat, all the time holding your breath in anticipation of that flash of silver and the absolute clobbering of the lure that signals a big barra strike. There is, of course, the mandatory trolling when the fish have gone quiet – but this too can be pretty exciting when there are such big fish around.

We successfully flicked at mangroves, snags, rock bars, drains and flats, all using Loomis GL2’s matched with Calcutta 250s spooled with 30lb braid with 60lb mono leaders. Best lures for the week were Manns Stretch 10s, Halco Scorpions of all depths, 12ft Gadens Classic Barras and the ever trusty Golden Bomber. But in all seriousness you could have thrown an orange peel in to some of the spots and caught barra.

This year we were all really keen to break the 1 metre mark, having witnessed the capture of two metre-plus fish on our previous visit and the loss of several more of that size. One of the fish lost on the previous trip would have easily pushed 1.25 metres and the magic 50lb mark. But it was not to be this year – as the weather gods conspired to give us a week of June-like weather in October, with cool temperatures, high winds and none of the stinking hot sticky build-up weather that you need for the really big barra to consistently come out to play.

Still, the fishing was great by any standard and each day we caught a variety of fish, including barra, golden snapper (fingermark bream), queenfish, trevors, salmon, cod, barracuda and, ultimately, black jew. The biggest barra for the week was a disappointing 85cm, although the good news is that I caught it and therefore won the Tour for 2006! There were bigger fish hooked, and in some cases sighted, but none of them made it into the landing net.

Here are some photos of the week’s fish, including my winning barra.


Actually - this is just the photo of my winning barra. I can't fit any more photos in this post so will add them below.

Now the last part of this year’s Tour that I want to share with you relates to my ongoing (and reasonably well publicised) mission to snare a jewfish off the beach. As the regular Fishraiders might know, I have put significant time and effort into catching my first beach Jew over the last 18 months – so far without success. When this was mentioned to Mick, one of the guides, he absently replied that you could catch good jewies off the beach in front of the camp and that we would have a bonfire on the final night and have a go.

I didn’t think it would happen, but lo and behold on the final night we took a break in the drinking long enough to construct a sizeable bonfire and, after enjoying the flames for an hour or so, six big handlines spooled with 100lb mono were produced. Nothing fancy at all, just a big sinker running straight down to a big hook – and for bait we used six-inch slabs of catfish and barracuda. The rigs were thrown out as far as we could get them by hand, which was a nervous 30 metres or so (nervous because standing shin deep in crocodile infested water in the middle of the night whilst swinging a slab of fish flesh in one hand isn’t quite as relaxing as fishing Maroubra beach), and the spool was simply thrown on the sand next to us while we stood around and drank.

After about five minutes the first spool started skidding down the beach towards the water and one of our party was onto it. It was a catty, unfortunately, but then we needed some extra bait so no probs. About an hour, and five catfish, later, another spool started to skid. Five metres, then stop, another five, then stop. I picked it up and felt weight and struck. Bugger me if I wasn’t nearly pulled into the estuary as it took off, burning my hands as I was forced to give it line each time it made a run. Eventually I figured out that the best way to deal with these runs was to wrap the line around my body and hold on, spinning back around to recover line once the run stopped.

Ten minutes into the fight and I felt the fish clear the water and come up onto the beach – I couldn’t see it but I could hear the thumping of its tail on the sand and the hoots of my friends as they ran down to grab it. When I got close enough to see it – I was gobsmacked. 32lb of NT black jew – probably the biggest fish I’ve ever caught. I had landed my first beach jew – although not quite under the circumstances I was expecting!!!

We caught another the same size, then a 20lber later in the evening – all three fish released unharmed to swim off into the inky black water. We also caught a 6 foot thresher shark that took two grown men to subdue once landed (by lying on top of it) – also released. What a great night – fishing in front of a bonfire, while pretty much blind, loving the camaraderie of a bunch of guys at an isolated camp in the middle of nowhere.

We flew out the next morning leaving three very tired (and in two cases very hungover) guides to await the next group coming out to experience the wonders of Endylagout. We’d fished ourselves into exhaustion, and even though we didn’t land the big one that we’d hoped, we did book for the same time next year before the tires had even left the runway. I can see many good future Tours at Stenny’s Big Barra camp, and am already starting to get excited about next year.

All I can say is that if you haven’t done it – do it. It’s a bit expensive, but it is without doubt the best fishing you’ll ever experience.

Edited by Mondo
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Mate, when you told me that you were heading up North to catch a few barra, I knew that I'd see something like this... but I've still gotta say that it looks like a spectacular trip was had! :yahoo::thumbup::1yikes: Some beautiful fish there... and I bet you couldn't complain about the mud crabs! :1yikes: Wow!...


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Thanks guys - it was a great trip - there is something very special about fishing anywhere where there is a chance of hooking a metre plus barra on any particular cast. Whilst the fishing was a little slow in comparison to our previous visit we still caught about 150 barra between us for the week (plus all the other species).

I forgot to say that if anyone wants details of Endyalgout or just general info on barra camps in the Top End they should feel free to pm me - I've been to a few and can give you the good oil.

And Jewhunter - even though I've now caught a jewie off the beach I'm still going to try to take you up on the offer of a beach jew session with Flattieman!!

A couple more photos . . . since MP and Mr Liaison asked so nicely!!



The crab feast!


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