Fish Darwin Charters
Fish Darwin specialises in reef and pelagic fishing on the exciting bluewater reefs wide of the Top End.
This report gives a good idea of what you can expect. Shannon Bubner writes: “After a year of planning, six of my good fishing buddies Swivel, Bingo, Bondy, Arky, Hannan and Rhino from Kimba in South Australia touched down on the Darwin tarmac in the early hours of the September. Anticipation was high and a tackle shop visit was on the agenda.
“Topping the shopping list were soft plastics, metal jigs and 80lb braid.
“The longest morning in history finally came to an end and it was time to board Northern Exile – our fishing platform for the next four days.
“After a 10-hour steam into the night, the anchor was dropped at Caution Point, on the west of Bathurst Island, followed closely by squid baits.
“Soon yells of delight and bent rods broke the midnight silence. Within 10 minutes there were six black jewfish slapping the deck. With two kept and four released, it had been a great start.
“Sunrise and a new day saw a three-hour steam to Marie Shoal.
“Skipper Shaun Uden searched for the best ground – the sounder lit up a couple of times with bait schools and it was time to stretch muscles again.
“Three rods with bait, two with metal jigs and two with soft plastics were deployed. Coral trout were caught on the baits and soft plastics, while some savage spanish mackerel action was taking place on the spin reels and metal jigs as we drifted over the shoal.
“A few coral trout and mackerel for the icebox and it was time for catch and release fishing, with more than 20 of the 8kg-plus spaniards swimming away.
“Some 15 or so species were ticked off the list already. Then another hot session into the sunset with more mackerel, giant trevally, maori sea perch, coral trout and the ever-present sharks – all living to fight another day.
“Then we were off to explore Goodrich Bank, north of the Tiwi Islands. Arriving at 10.30pm and seeing the sounder light up like a Christmas tree, it didn’t take long before the sound of screaming drags filled the warm night air.
“GTs to 20kg, red bass, longnosed emperor, paddletail and large cod were on the menu, readily taking baits and soft plastics. Some fishos needed sleep!
“Sunrise and flat seas welcomed us on our third day. We pulled in some cracker coronation trout, cale cale trevally and longnosed emperor. Red bass to 7kg were testing our stamina. Some cracking red emperor and another mackerel session meant an afternoon rest and cold beer was needed.
“Later, we set up billfish baits and soon enough, out of 90m, a huge black marlin trailed our skip bait before slamming it without a hook-up, only to smash a pusher as Swivel was retrieving it. There was yelling and yahooing, but after a 2½ houre battle the line parted.
“An early night and it was time to do head back towards Darwin the next morning. We stopped at some snapper ground and soon seven rods were hooked up on goldies of 4kg to 7kg.
“What a trip. Great food, great company and great fishing!”
For more information visit www.fishdarwin.com.au
Cannon Fishing Charters
Cannon Charters specialise in mothership fishing adventures across the spectacular Top End.
The trips combine fantastic fishing with great scenery and luxury facilities.
A holiday aboard the MV Cannon is perfect for corporate bookings, or for those who love an outdoor adventure.
From Darwin, Cannon travels to remote locations to provide guests with rarely fished grounds.
There are no supermarkets, motels, restaurants, or clubs where the Cannon goes. There are often no roads in to the coast where Cannon fishes.
That’s why the MV Cannon is decked out with everything you could need for your week-long journey.
When not relaxing on the mothership, you will be out fishing and exploring in a comfortable dinghy. Travel up narrow creeks, ducking branches or dodging sandbars to access that one spot where you might just find that huge barramundi or threadfin salmon.
Return to the mothership for a delicious lunch prepared by an a la carte chef, before heading back into the unknown. Few people get the chance to experience the Cannon secret locations, as most are only accessible by long-range mothership.
Cannon Charters has been accredited with the Australian Tourism Accreditation Program since 2006 and is dedicated to providing a high level of customer service.
In 2007, Cannon Charters won the Northern Territory Brolga Tourism Award for excellence in the category of Adventure Tourism, and then went on to represent the Northern Territory as a finalist in the 2007 Australian Tourism Awards.
Winning a Brolga award is the industry’s highest accolade and the recipients represent the best products and services in the Northern Territory.
In 2008, Cannon Charters took out the Northern Territory Brolga Tourism Award for excellence in the category of Adventure Tourism for the second year
in a row.
The MV Cannon is a luxury 75′ mothership built by West Coaster Marine and launched in 2003.
She can accommodate eight guests in four cabins, two with twin bunks, with separate toilet rooms. Two cabins have a double and single bed with ensuite.
All rooms have individual air conditioning, and there is an endless supply of fresh water.
The internal lounge and dining area is a modern leather setting with TV, video, DVD and stereo system, all in air conditioned comfort.
The galley is fully stainless steel, with modern conveniences and walk-in cool room.
The huge outside entertaining deck area features a three-door drinks fridge with ice-maker, a stainless barbecue, instant boiling water for coffee and tea and a separate shower and toilet. The deck has two large tables that seat eight each under a hard top.
There are four sportfishing boats to enable visitors to fish estuaries, rivers and reefs. These boats are powered by Honda BF40s. Each boat has a sounder and Shimano and Loomis gear.
For more information visit www.cannoncharters.com.au
DNA Barramundi Fishing Tours
If you want to fish Australia’s best run-off rivers in pristine Kakadu National Park, then Darwin’s North Australian Barra Fishing (DNA) is your choice.
DNA is a family-owned tourism service that has been operating in Kakadu for many years.
It is one of very few operators with a Kakadu licence.
Charters are available year-round, with the exception of the wet season from November to late February. The pick of the times to fish Kakadu is from March to May.
DNA head guide Duane Trouchet said: “Very large rivers flow through the vast Kakadu floodplains.
“These rivers are not affected by any agriculture or industry, and the billabongs are still the same as they were hundreds of years ago.
“You can see huge prehistoric crocodiles, vast flocks of birds, and all the bait that attracts the barra. These floodplains are huge nurseries, and the food supply attracts big barramundi.
“The secret to fishing is the timing, and knowing where to look in the rivers, and when.
“Although we talk about barramundi fishing, we also target the reef and pelagic species at the river mouths.”
DNA does day trips as well as extended tours.
“As an NT accredited Kakadu Tour Guide, we will pick you up from your accommodation in the Darwin area at approximately 5am (or as arranged ) in our luxury air-conditioned LandCruisers, to take you to your exciting fishing destination,” Duane said.
“We arrive at the fishing destination around sunrise.
“Enjoy the spectacular Top End wildlife before embarking on our shaded custom-built fishing vessels.
“Take on the challenge of fishing in the Top End – you never know what you might hook next, and it could be a 50-pound barramundi.
“Enjoy scrumptious barramundi barbecue or cold meat and salad luncheons daily.
“Lunch is served on board. We also provide non-alcoholic refreshments and cold water during the day.
“You will fish using our G-Loomis rods with Shimano reels and braid lines.
“We cater for everyday amateur fishermen, as well as top-level experienced anglers.
“We encourage the use of catch-and-release techniques on our tours, but clients may keep fish within legal bag limits.
“We will be only too pleased to take photographs of your catch to remember your rewarding and unique opportunity to fish Northern Territory waters.”
During extended trips, clients stay at luxurious Aurora Kakadu, which has a restaurant, swimming pool, bar and more.
On completion of the tour, customers are returned to accommodation in Darwin.
Fishing gear is supplied on a replace-if-lost basis.
Each boat carries four clients, with a minimum of two per boat, and large groups can be catered for.
Deposits of 10 per cent secure a booking. This deposit is non-refundable if a replacement booking can not be found.
For more information visit www.dnabarrafishing.com.au
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