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Darwin Trip


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Hi all,

A long post, so if you are only interested in the fishing bits, skip down to the fishing heading!

Getting there.

My first trip to Darwin, June this year,  chasing Barra got cancelled. Luckily we were able to rebook for September. Flights were repurchased and all was looking good. Then about three weeks before we were scheduled to leave, without any reason, Qantas cancelled the flights. Luckily we were able to rebook with Jetstar. The NT government also updated their Hot-Spot map and as long as we didn't go south of the Hawkesbury, we wouldn't have to isolate. Then two weeks before kick-off, Jetstar cancelled our flights. Virgin were still running, but they went through Queensland and that meant that we needed to read up on transiting rules. The way it was written, as long as we didn't leave the airport, we could do it. So a final roll of the dice, we booked again. It was a nervous two weeks with eyes being glued to the NT Covid map.

The day arrived, and we headed south. The rules stated that we could drive to the airport, and as long as we didn't stop anywhere, it wasn't counted as having visited a hotspot so straight to the airport we went. The airport was very quiet. We went through security and waited for our boarding. Not much was open so if you are flying, take your own food.

We boarded for Brisbane and took off. It was a great feeling that we were finally on our way. The plane was pretty full, with few empty seats. When we landed, we were escorted by the police, army, security people, through to a check in desk, where our boarder passes were checked and then we were ushered through to the waiting room for the trip to Darwin. The officials were quite good, and there weren't any issues, other than it took a while. We had 90 minutes, so it wasn't too big an issue.

The Darwin boarding announcement was made and away we went on another full place. Same deal at Darwin with going through boarder control. This took a long time, and there wasn't a toilet between exiting the plane and boarder control so it did get a bit tense! I think it took us an hour to get through. Bags picked up, we were off to our accommodation. It was a great relief to have arrived, and I could feel the stress of being in my home office for six months falling off me.

First job was to head down to the mothership and load up our bags. We were on the same boat as last year, Tropic Paradise with Top End Seafaris. Beers loaded and were put on ice, then we were back for a last night on terra firma and a meal at the sail boat club. We also made a plan to head out in one of the tow boats and chase all the mac tuna that had been around before we left Darwin. We did this, but there weren't any tuna around. We hooked up with the mothership around lunchtime and started the trip to Endyalgout Island. It was a pretty rough trip with the swell being up and a lot of wind. Sleeping was ok, and it was a 10 or 11 hour trip. We took four boats with us, one on the top deck and the other three were towed. One of the boats actually landed the first fish of the trip!




Fishing bits
First day and I was lucky enough to be select to go on the guides crew. If you've never been out with a guide, it’s really worthwhile, even if you've been fishing a lot. You pick up small things or new techniques, and the guide (well our one) has a plan for nearly every minute of your days fishing, so there’s no time wasted. As it turned out, the first day was pretty quiet. For me, I hooked my first Barra after four hours. I didn't get the hook set and away it swam. After another four hours, I got my second and during a leap out of the water, it was able to throw the lure. The other guys had a lot more success than me, pulling in a couple of Queenfish and Barra.

Second day, and I was in a different boat. Four hours in and I hook a nice Barra, it runs for a snag and busts me off. Then about four hours later, I hook another one and do everything right. I get it all the way to the boat, when the guy on net duty clubs the fish, knocks the lure out and it swims out of the net. I'm starting to think it’s going to be one of those trips. Not helped by the guys from the first day catching fish in another boat beside me. You can imagine the comments they were giving me!

Day three, and I was allocated to the tinny. The weather was still a bit windy which makes casting hard work. I did get pretty reasonable with my baitcaster doing a couple of thousand casts a day. Everywhere we went looked fishing, the only issue was there didn't seem to be any interested Barra around. We came back to the mothership for lunch, got told to try a different spot so headed off and for most of the afternoon session battling winds and choppy water. On the way, we found a few good looking spots and after a lot of casts, nothing. Finally found another spot and after nine hours I finally hooked one. I got it all the way to the boat, when the guy on the next had a swipe and missed, and then another one and another one and a forth one. I let the fish run a bit more thinking this isn't going so well. I bought it back to the boat for a fifth time, and this time we got it landed successfully. Not huge (600) but I was on the board and a big weight had been lifted. 


Day four, and a different boat. We decided to head out to the reefs to see if we could get some goldies before the wind got too bad. We managed a few but thought that they were too small and sent them all back, and then the wind blew up and we couldn't hold ground over the reef so we came back in. We trolled around for a bit and I got my first Queenfish, and that was about all we did for that day.


Day five and I was back in the guide boat. It started off pretty well, sight casting Barra and landed a 650. I think we all got one so we stopped for lunch. Moved to a different spot and tried trolling. I hooked one and it threw the hook while the other two blokes landed theirs. Did some more and I hooked a pretty good one, got it to the boat, and then another netting disaster saw him released at the boat. We anchored up and started throwing lures at the bank to see what we could find and I landed a nice goldie. With the trip just about over, I did a couple more casts and got smashed by a big Barra. It did all the usual things, head shakes and jumping. I was surprisingly calm, which wasn't easy, as the other blokes were saying it was a big fish. I let it run, ran around the boat, keeping the line from touch anything, listening to the guide, and after a few minutes, I had it netted and on board. It went on the lie detector and came back as an 860 model. A PB for me. The guide asked if I wanted to keep or release. I asked him for advice and he recommended releasing so that’s what I did. I got my photos and watched her swim off and we were back to the mothership and that was the trip done.


A mothership is great way to fish. We had plenty of ice, the crew kept stocking the beer fridge so there was always a cold one waiting. Meals are all provided, and they'll fillet your fish if you want. They have a load of knowledge about the area you are in and what lures to try. We invented a new game called "Catching the biggest catfish with an Ice rod off the back of the boat after dinner." An exciting sport given the spikes that they have and the beers that we had! We managed to get some mud-crabs for a meal, turned some of the Barra/Queenfish in to fish bites and numus and just had a great time. The trip home was a lot smoother.

We had to check SA boarder restrictions as the flight to Sydney went via Adelaide. We were granted a passing-thru exemption after waiting in another queue. No issues other than nothing being open, so it was a hungry sort of day. We made it to Sydney, and walked straight off the plane and down to the baggage handling. My mate tempted fate by saying, "well that was pretty painless". After about 25 minutes, it became clear that my bag wasn't one there to be collected. I did spot a nearly identical bag and grabbed that. I looked at the name which wasn't mine and asked the airline people about it. It became apparent that they had picked up my bag. Annoying but not the end of the world. We waited around for another hour and no one could contact him, so we left his bag and went home.

The airline rang me the next day. They had got a hold of the owner, the only issue was he got on a plane to Canada, and had taken my bag with him. I nearly wet myself laughing. I looked the guy up on Facebook and warned him that he had the wrong back, and that he would be entering a different country with a bag containing knives and fishing equipment. He was very apologetic, and ended up in a hotel room in isolation with no changes of clothes. My bag got sent back a week later and he now has his bag. 
I took up a load of lures and plastics, and off these, I probably used about four. The big one I caught was on a borrowed lure.
A three piece baitcaster  travel rod with a DC SLX 150. Nice reel, and very few bird nests with it. Must have done a thousand casts over the five days. I used this the most. When I find it, I’ll put the model of the rod here.
A Pflueger Trion Transendent travel rod. with a fin nor LT40 as a backup for barra and reef. It was good to swap it over to rest from the bait caster.
An Ugly stick Gold four piece reef rod with a fin nor LT80. Didn’t see much action as the weather was rubbish for reefing.
A white looking Old dog gutter master (I landed my first one on this)
A black/blue looking Old Dog gutter master (I hook up on this and got my queen fish on it)
A borrowed black and silver reidys hard body. Not sure of the model, looks a bit like a Lucifer. This one got the PB
A gold bomber
A green reidys B52
And that was about all I used 
I had a great trip, and if you are still reading - thanks!




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Sounds like a good time away, lucky to get there at all.

Some fish are better than none, with one good barra, plus others for an experience that not everyone manages to have.

The trouble with some people is that they cannot net a lively fish, (or a half  dead one  🤣 ) which is why I net my own. Would be harder with a lively barra.

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Nice one! I’ve always wanted to do the mothership thing. I did two day trips on the Daintree and got my first couple of barra last year. Even though that wasn’t as big of a trip, there is definitely pressure to catch fish, especially not knowing when you’re going to do something like that again. I think the best approach is to just enjoy the trip and take it for what it is, you gotta be happy with the results you got, some nice fish there!



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