Darwin Reef’n’Wrecks can put you onto some of the best reef fishing in the Top End.
This family-owned charter business has a fleet of fishing boats available for day trips and extended tours.
“If you are looking for the ultimate Darwin fishing trip, we can give you exactly what you want,” said spokesman Jim Bancroft.
“Come on board one of our four boats and experience barramundi fishing in the rivers, or offshore reef fishing,” he said.
“Fish Darwin Harbour on a day trip or do an extended multi-day tour on the shoals up to 200nm offshore.”
Darwin Reef’n’Wrecks can cater for individuals or family, conference groups and parties.
For harbour trips, clients can fish in Reefmaster, a 46ft Randell with full shade and toilet, which can carry 13 passengers.
“This superb boat gets you to the fishing ground fast. We believe this is Darwin’s best half-day fishing charter,” Jim said.
“It departs twice a day on the pristine Darwin Harbour, and we fish in 30m of water.
“You’ll fish around the historical war and Cyclone Tracy wrecks.
“We only fish on the swing of the tide for the best fishing action.
“You will use quality Shimano rods and reels and target fish such as golden snapper, black jewfish, queenfish, trevally, spanish mackerel, and more.
“When taking a break from fishing, enjoy delicious fresh prawns, cheese, cabana and biscuits as snacks, and freshly cooked steak sandwiches, with the catch-of-the-day cooked up.
“Our professional crew will assist you with baiting your hooks and cleaning your fish, ready to take home.
“You are sure to enjoy a thrilling day’s fishing on board our comfortable, stable boats.”
Two-day, two-night trips are especially popular, taking fishermen to lightly fished grounds on distant shoals with species on par with the Great Barrier Reef. These extended trips start at 8pm departing from Cullen Bay, watching Darwin’s skyline disappear on the horizon.
“After a few snacks and drinks everyone retires to the comfy bunks to wake up at first light and start fishing,” Jim said.
“A highlight of these extended trips are giant largemouth nannygai (red jew), giant mangrove jacks, red emperor, coral trout, as well as some unusual species, including the robinson’s sea bream, which is superb table fare.”
For extended trips clients travel on Jan Lee, a 56ft game boat with flybridge, shaded walk-around deck, and surveyed for 200nm offshore.
Eight passengers sleep in air-conditioned comfort. The Jan Lee has satellite internet and phone, widescreen TV, hot water and toilet.
Full day charters up to 45nm offshore are on Island Selina a 50ft New West Coaster, arguably the best day boat in Darwin.
We have been looking at some of the NT’s best fishing charters recently … but what is there in Darwin for those who don’t fish? There’s plenty to do … read on.
Tourism Top End
Whether you are a hot-blooded local or making a trek into the world’s hottest fishing action, you’d be mad not to explore some of the magnificent Top End locations along the way.
The Katherine region is the perfect location to combine a cultural or sightseeing experience with a Top End fishing expedition.
Renowned for its strong Aboriginal culture, the region is scattered with natural thermal springs, quirky Outback pubs and awe-inspiring rivers.
Its most famous icon is Katherine Gorge, which sits in the 2920sqkm Nitmiluk National Park.
This system of 13 gorges can be explored on a boat cruise, on foot via marked walking trails, by hiring a canoe, or boarding a helicopter for a bird’s-eye view.
Kakadu National Park offers superb fishing, but is also World Heritage Listed, as it features an incredible variety of landscapes and habitats, including lush wetlands, savannah woodland, monsoon forests, escarpments and coastal mangroves.
It is also home to the world’s oldest living culture, as Aboriginal people have called Kakadu their home for more than 50,000 years.
Kakadu boasts one of the highest concentrations of Aboriginal rock art in the world, with galleries at sites like Ubirr and Nourlangie, accessible by sealed road most of the year.
The Victoria River region is located south-west of Katherine via the Victoria Highway. It has a diverse landscape supporting an abundance of wildlife and features grassy plains, boab trees and majestic gorges carved by rivers out of sandstone escarpments.
The region offers a range of experiences, including a 4WD trek into Gregory National Park, nature watching, fishing and river cruising, hiking, bushwalking and scenic flights.
Arnhem Land’s undeveloped natural landscapes are in the middle of Australia’s northern coast. One of the last great unspoiled areas in the world, its small population is mostly Aboriginal people, whose culture remains largely intact. Arnhem Land is the birthplace of the didgeridoo and home to art sites.
The region is an exciting destination for those wanting authentic cultural experiences, with many tailored indigenous experiences on offer.
Access to Arnhem Land requires a permit and you need to organise this with the Northern Land Council before departure.
The Nhulunbuy region provides picture perfect islands, reef diving, exotic beaches and wetlands.
This is a destination the family can enjoy with Nanydjka (Cape Arnhem), just a few hours’ drive from Nhulunbuy, with long white beaches and dunes as far as you can see. This is the perfect destination for peace, solitude and relaxation.
Gayngaru is an area of lagoon wetlands extending some 7km parallel to the beachfront.
The lagoon, home to around 200 species of birds, has an over-water observation platform providing a hideaway for bird watchers. A walking trail is provided for those on foot. Guided tours are available.
Visit the local’s link on the Tourism Top End website (www.tourismtopend.com.au) for destination ideas. The site has been built for locals to remind you of the attractions in your own backyard.
Spring Tide Safaris
Spring Tide Safaris fishes most areas accessible from Darwin, and is one of very few operators licenced for Kakadu National Park.
Single-day barramundi fishing is available for people with limited time. Remote area fishing safaris range from two to 10 days.
Even though the fishing locations are remote on extended tours, clients stay in comfortable resort or mothership accommodation.
“We offer a personalised fishing experience in the Top End,” said Spring Tide’s Micky Qaiser.
“Our most popular tours are based at world famous Kakadu National Park.
“We target the mighty barramundi and a variety of other sportfish, including black jewfish, tuna, golden snapper, trevally, spanish and spotted mackerel, coral trout, GTs, queenfish, threadfin salmon and more.”
Fishing locations vary depending on tides and the time of the year of your charter.
On a day trip you might be fishing Darwin Harbour, Bynoe Harbour, Corroboree Billabong or the Adelaide River.
Fishing can be in either salt or fresh water locations, year round. Micky will choose the best option after discussion with customers.
“We give our clients the option to catch saltwater or freshwater barramundi depending on tide and location,” Micky said.
“If freshwater is your choice, you will be on Corroboree Billabong early to enjoy the sunrise. Barramundi will be the target, but saratoga, tarpon and catfish may be caught. You’ll see crocodiles, buffaloes and birds of prey. If saltwater fishing is your choice, then barramundi and sportfish such as black jewfish, snapper and reef species, can be had.“
Mud crabbing is also available as an option, but not in Kakadu.
Safaris are all-inclusive. Fishing tackle is supplied on a replace-if-lost basis.
Day tours depart at 5am from Darwin, with travel time to your destination about 90 minutes in an airconditioned 4X4. After a memorable day, your guide will drop you back at accommodation in Darwin at 5pm.
Tours include transfers, lunch and refreshments and all fishing equipment. These tour options are perfect for the whole family, including non-angling partners.
For more information visit here www.springtidesafaris.com.au
Darwin's Barra Base
Darwin’s Barra Base targets the biggest barramundi the Top End has to offer during its extended run-off safaris.
Run-off trips to Shady Camp on the Mary River are two to five-day safaris, with clients staying at the remote Point Stuart Wilderness Lodge.
If it’s trophy run-off barramundi you want, book early to secure spots for the best of the spring tides.
Late in the run-off Darwin’s Barra Base does run-off barramundi safaris to the Finniss River from April to June.
These safaris are from two to six days, with clients staying at the famous Dundee lodge, right at the boat ramp.
Another option are three to five-day mothership safaris.
After the wet season run-off ends, it is clear blue skies and beautiful cloudless days on the Top End’s famous billabongs for barramundi and saratoga action.
Darwin’s Barra Base has four guide boats. Pick ups are at 4.45am to 5.15am from your Darwin accommodation, returning approx 5.30pm to 6pm.
Morning tea, lunches, soft drinks, iced water and fishing tackle is supplied on a replace-if-lost basis.
A bed and breakfast lodge is available in Darwin, only five minutes from the airport. Filleted fish are packed into flight freight boxes for the trip home.
Safari photos are burned onto DVDs for keepsakes, and trophy barra photos are printed and laminated.
For more information visit www.darwinsbarrabase.com.au
Phil's Affordable Barramundi Tours
A fishing adventure that is unique, raw, exhilarating and in one of the most beautiful natural surroundings you’ll find anywhere in the world is what you get when you travel with Phil’s Affordable Barra Tours.
Finally someone has put together full package barra tours that include return flights from most Australian Capital Cities to the NT at prices you would find hard to beat, even doing it all yourself.
Phil specialises in tailor-made tours to suit your needs.
He listens to his customers and is passionate about making sure every customer gets the fishing experience they dreamed of.
Phil’s Affordable Barra Tours currently boasts a total of 20 boats from a group of experienced guides and operators, with more being added to the list regularly.
Before any tours are offered to the fishing public, every aspect of the package is personally tested by one of Phil’s people. Everything from meals, accommodation, airline and limousine services, the boats, tour personnel, fishing knowledge and quality of equipment are all scrutinised to make sure the best is provided.
It is not just about the fishing either, mixed package tours are also offered, so you can enjoy more of the highlights of the NT. Travelling himself on fishing trips and organising tours to the NT for over 12 years, Phil knows the best way to experience the Top End. He strongly recommends acclimatising yourself to the temperature, rugged beauty and dangers of the Territory with a scenic tour before your fishing adventure.
Phil’s Affordable Barra Tours combines experience, local knowledge, freedom of choice, comfort and affordability to deliver a range of tours that are second to none.
Mixed package tours inclusive of capital city to Darwin air fares, two full days fishing with all meals and accommodation on location plus a prior full day Jumping Crocodile and Litchfield Park waterfalls tour plus two nights’ accommodation in Darwin start from as low as $2,140 per person triple share.
Single-day barra fishing tours out of Darwin start from $300pp, and blue water full-day fishing adventures from $260pp.
All prices are firm until November 2011.
For more information or to hear what Phil’s customers have to say, visit www.barratours.com.au