Although the Top End is Australia’s barramundi fishing mecca, and the vast majority of interstate anglers who visit the Top End have barra right at the top of their capture list, it’s always great to encounter a group who just want to catch fish… any fish.
That was my experience on my last visit to Seven Spirit Bay Wilderness Lodge on the Cobourg Peninsula.
Actually, that is always the case when I catch up with my old mate, Paul Eather, and my new mate, Chris Kolar. They love Seven Spirit Bay; Paul in particular has visited on several occasions and Chris has made two trips in as many years.
The difference with this latest trip was that they had convinced their wives to come along, confident in the knowledge that the sheer opulence of the upmarket Seven Spirit Bay, situated as it is in such a remote location, would impress the girls immensely, even if they didn’t take the fishing too seriously.
Well that notion was wrong for a start: Zerrin Eather and Brooke Saidi took their fishing very seriously, and were competitive to the hilt.
They even came up with at least half a dozen prize categories: most fish, biggest fish, smallest fish, most species etc.
Time was my enemy during this latest trip, and I could only afford one night and one day fishing with my friends.
Although the barra fishing can be pretty hot in the sandy coastal creeks, this trip was out on the blue water which at times can produce world-class sportfishing for Spanish mackerel, queenfish and longtail tuna. It is also a great area to jig for reef fish.
It’s all the rage nowadays to bottom bounce with soft plastic and/or metal jigs.
I love it, and better still the fish don’t mind it either.
On this trip, seven-inch Gulp Jerkshads fished on one-ounce Mustad Jigheads worked well, as did Mustad Ink Vaders which look like an octopus and actually squirt ink when jigged.
The jigging technique with these is not rocket science. If you’re drifting, you can lag them behind you, just jerking the rod tip up in two hits and letting the jig fall to the bottom.
That’s critical: the jig must bounce on the bottom, which means you have to feed line out constantly, depending on how fast the drift is and how deep it is.
Almost always, the hit comes on the drop, and a hefty golden snapper or coral trout is often the culprit.
I reckon that’s the best part: the wallop of a good reef fish ambushing your artificial offering is a sensation all of its own.
Another technique is to cast ahead of the drift and lollypop the jig back as you drift towards it. This really ensures it travels along the bottom as you work it.
The Squidgy Pro Prawn in the largest size and ZMan Scented Jerk ShadZ also worked a treat. With the Pro Prawns, a smear of S-Factor enhances the plastic offering.
In metal jigs, it was hard to beat the Mustad Big Eye which comes in a variety of vibrant colours and sizes. Plus you can always cheat by adding a bit of fresh fish to the hook end.
Whether you’re estuarine barra fishing, trolling offshore for pelagics or bottom bouncing with bait or jigs for reef fish, the tides aren’t too bad this weekend.
Water clarity will be improving and there’ll still be enough current to keep the aquatic food chain active.
The best news though is that the forecast is for very light winds this weekend.
In fact, it’s likely to be glass-out seas and that means you’ll be able to travel way offshore.
A late afternoon session in Darwin Harbour could be good for a barra or two as well.
AJ’s hefty golden snapper fell to a Mustad Ink Vader soft plastic jig.