Operating fishing charters since 1989, partners John Dagan and Vicki Coleman offer a range of guided-fishing options – from one-day fishing tours, to extended Kakadu Run-off fishing trips, to remote Arnhem Land barra and sportfishing safaris.
When I was asked to provide a review for Darwin Barra Fishing Tours, it made me realise I have been fishing with John Dagan for quarter of a century! I met John fishing the Four Mile Hole billabong in 1990. He was fishing for fun but later decided to have a go at making a living as a guide and invited me back to fish the South Alligator River and “appraise” his performance. Several 20lb barra later, I was hooked.
Since then, I have fished with John in places including the South and East Alligator, Mary River, Adelaide River, Daly River, Corroboree, Darwin and Bynoe Harbour and offshore, Dundee Beach and Port Keats. The man is not at all afraid to explore. Fish species have included barra, threadfin salmon, blue salmon, golden snapper, mangrove jack, tarpon, queenfish, black jewfish, groper, mackerel, trevally, tuna and mud crabs (lots of mud crabs).
Every place was special, new and exciting to me... and then came Endyalgout Island! Geographically, Endyalgout is located off Arnhem Land at the bottom of Van Diemen Gulf. The western end extends into the Gulf with more small islands offshore; at the other end is one of the largest estuary systems in the Northern Territory, abounding with creeks and rock-bars. The camp is on the northern side of the island on a shell grit beach adjacent to deep water and only 50 minute flying time from Darwin.
In 1997, I went to Endyalgout with John as my guide. Accommodation then were tents, the dunny was a 44 gallon drum with a seat dug into the ground and showers were canvas water bags hoisted up on a frame.
After 5 days of arm-bending fish action, meals of barra, mud crabs, roasts, steaks, beer and good company, I discovered I had not purged the itch as much as imbedded it.
Since then, John has gone from guide to partner to sole proprietor at Endyalgout. With John’s energy and downright anal obsession to get everything “just right”, massive works have taken place. The tents are being replaced with specially-designed sleeping huts with storm shutters that open to let the evening breezes through but batten down against tropical storms. Water storage has massively increased and an ablution block provides showers (hot or cold) and flush toilets. Concrete paths connect all amenities. The kitchen and dining areas have been enlarged with a specialised shaded foreshore area for enjoying those mud crabs before dinner.
A typical day is rise to a man-sized breakfast, hop in the boats for a morning casting or trolling, lunch aboard the boat and more fishing afterwards. Last job, check the mud crab pots for entrée that night. Back at camp, a beer, a shower, a beer, mud crabs, conversation, dinner – anything from roast to catch of the day – drinks and conversation, crash and sleep... and do it all again the next day.
John’s attitude is sustainable fishing. No spot is flogged to become unproductive. There are simply too many spots available. Areas fish well in different conditions and tides and an angler can expect all the variety of species and locations possible with tide and weather considerations. I was given 500 words to sum it up for you; I could go for 5,000!
For more information phone (08) 8931 0031 or visit www.darwinbarrafishingtours.com.au