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 KAKADU NATIONAL PARK


Kakadu National Park is 257km east of Darwin. It is reached along the sealed Arnhem Highway. 
It covers an area of 20,000 sq km and within it's perimeters live 275 species of birds, 75 species 
of reptiles, 25 species of frogs, 10,000 species of insects, 1600 species of plants and over 25 
species of fish regarded as sportsfish. 
    The name KAKADU comes from the Aboriginal GAGUDJU, the main Aboriginal language 
used in the northern part of the area at the start of the 20th century. Today there are three major 
( with many minor) Aboriginal languages spoken in the park--- Gundjeihmi/Mayali, Kunwinjku, 
and Jawoyn. Aboriginals have lived in the area now defined by Kakadu National Park for at 
least 50,000 years. They are the custodians of the land and many of the rangers within the park are Aboriginal. In 1984 Kakadu National Park was World Heritage Listed and the area achieved 
international recognition as a cultural and ecological treasure. Thr region is unquestionably one of 
the world's last great wetlands and it provides superb fishing. 
Kakadu is a region of vast wetland flood plains and monsoonal forests, with numerous creeks and four main rivers, The Wildman River and the East, South and West Alligator Rivers. All water courses except the East Alligator stop running in the dry season, leaving a series of permanent pools called billabongs. Billabongs are a fishing frenzy from the start of the dry season until the first cool weather arrives, usually about the middle of May. 
    The main Billabongs in Kakadu are, Mudginberri, Jabiluka, Muirella Park, Nourlangie, Jim Jim, 
Home, Yellow Waters and 7 Mile Hole. These are just the main pools, but any water is worth throwing a line in. Besides Barramundi, anglers can also target Tarpon, Saratoga, Catfish, Archer Fish, Sooty Grunter and many more. 
     Kakadu National Park is a holiday area for the family, well know for it's fantastic fishing and the miriad wildlife which abounds. The best times for a fishing holiday are early April to late May and October to December. These are the best times, but do not think that the rest of the year is dead as far as the fishing is concerned. With so many species of fish available to the angler the fishing is good whatever time of year you decide to visit. 

 
 

Barramundi  

    Barramundi fishing is the most popular pursuit in Australia's Northern Territory. 
This legendary game fish is pursued throughout the many waterways of the vast, remote 
tropical Top End. One of the reasons for it's popularity is the incredible size it obtains- 
encounters with 40kg fish are not uncommon. Another is a life that involves almost every aquatic 
environment, from coastal waters to the uppermost permanent waters of the inland rivers, and 
the land locked billabongs of the dry season. For many anglers the Barramundi's aggressive nature and fighting characteristics are it's most endearing features. It's succulent flesh makes it 
welcome on any table. Barramundi can be caught all year round in the Top End. 

Description;  The Barramundi is a large, powerful fish with a slab sided body. It's has hunched shoulders, a deeply scooped head, large scales, with a large mouth and big paddle shaped tail. 
The fish's large, bright, pink-red eyes glow brilliantly at night, confirming it's nocturnal feeding 
habits. It's colouring is usually a brilliant silver to reddish brown on top, to silvery white underneath. 
Fish from land locked billabongs may have a darker colouration on top, with their tails sometimes being jet black.

                                                                                                                                              Size: Most fish caught are between 1 and 20kg. Captures of  any fish over 40kg is not 
common although the Barra can grow to over 50kg. 

Distribution: Barramundi are distributed right across the Top End of Australia. From mid north 
Queensland to the Ashburton River in Western Australia. 

How to catch: Barra respond well to all styles of fishing. The most exciting and rewarding way 
to fish for Barra is chucking lures and flies into snags, rock bars, mangrove roots and any other type of structure. The hit and fight of Barramundi can be heartstopping. Another successful way to target Barra is by slow trolling a lure behind a boat. This is very productive and gives you a chance to have a few tinnies. Best lures are deep diving plugs, surface lures at night and Wonderworms. 

Eating Qualities: The Barramundi is regarded as one of our best eating fish, with prices to match in top restaurants. It has firm, dense ,white, sweet tasting flesh which lends itself to all styles of cooking. 
  Barramundi Dreaming 
I woke to the warm red glow to the east that told me the sun would soon be up. Daylight 
in the Australian tropics, suddenly the bush comes alive with the birds singing their welcome 
to the coming day from the surrounding paperbarks in a morning chorus. 
Rainbow Lorikeets screech over the succulent nectar of the sunkissed flowering trees, 
There is no wind. The touch of humidity promises a warm day with good fishing. 
   After breakfast Darren, Glen and I set of into the vast lilly lined billabong which was covered 
with a prolific variety of birdlife looking for something to eat. Surface activity, and the occassional 
"boofing" sound that a Barra makes when feeding told us that the birds where not the only 
ones feeding. 
    I made the first cast with a medium diver into a clearing amongst the lily pads, but got no 
response. I tried again, cast retrieve, cast retrieve, cast retrieve. Wham, the water exploded as a 
huge Barra threw itself into the air in an attempt to get free. Line ripped from my reel and the 
tip of the rod pulled down hard as the Barra took of on a long run. The rod was almost bent flat 
as Darren and Glen pullen in their lines. My line was practically out in a flat line as we powered 
across the billabong in pursuit of the fish. After a while I began to retrieve some line and I began to feel as though I was winning as I pulled the fish closer. Suddenly a massive swirl, and the huge fish exploded from the water in a final attempt at freedom. Then she settled down and I knew she 
was mine. 
   I guess in all the excitement we got complacent, for suddenly, just 50 meters away we spied a monsterous saltwater crocodile. We watched it closely, for when a croc is going to attack all the bumps on its back sort of swell up, like the hair on a cats back. And yes, the bumps were swelled, we were in trouble, the croc was definitely in attack mode and we knew we had to get my prize Barra in quickly. I tightened the drag, thumbed the spool, and literally dragged the fish to the boat, all the time hoping the hooks would hold. I soon had it beside the boat ready to be netted. At that moment the croc surfaced just a few meters away, just his head and eyes, intent on the struggling fish. We lifted the net but the fish was to heavy. It had to be 40kg if it was a pound. The three of us grabbed the net together and heaved the fish into the boat just as the croc made his move. We heaved a sigh of relief which turned to panic as the croc came stright into the boat across the cut-down transom trying to get my Barra. We ran to the bow as the weight of the croc pushed the rear of our boat under. We would have sunk if the croc hadn't grabbed my Barra abd slid back into the billabong. Shaken, but not stirred, we fished on and ened the day with over 30 Barra and other assorted species, but none as big as the one the croc got. There are many ways to lose a fish, and many stories about the one that got away, but this one will stay in my mind always. 
     This was an isolated incident and very unusual as the Northern Territory has a management 
program for removing problem crocs like the one in the above story. Normally if you take care, 
you will not have a problem with crocodiles. Crocodiles penetrate well into freshwater areas  and 
have been found up to 300kms inland. They are attracted to boat ramps, take care when launching a boat. Below are some hints concerning crocodiles. 

DO NOT: clean fish on or near the waters edge 
DO NOT: tether fish to the boat 
DO NOT: wade or stand in water longer than necessary 
DO NOT: use a low sitting boat or canoe in waters inhabited by saltwater crocodiles 
DO NOT: let dogs in or near the water. Crocodiles are attracted to dogs 
DO NOT: camp at or near the waters edge 
DO NOT: provoke a crocodile in any way 

Observe these rules and you should have no trouble. Please remember that all crocodiles 
are protected under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act and it is an offense to kill one. The Barramundi is one of the world's best light tackle sportfish, the king of the tropical 
waters. The fish is distributed right across the north of Australia, from Queenslands Sunshine 
Coast to the Ashburton River in Western Australia. 
       Barramundi fishing is the most popular angling pursuit in the Northern Territory. The 
species is widely regarded as Australia's premier native sportfish and is pursued throughout 
the top end of Australia. Many anglers like fishing for Barramundi because of it's aggressive nature, it's fighting characteristics and the big size that it can grow to. It takes artificial lures and flies readily, and once hooked makes short powerful runs, often launching itself clear of the water whilst shaking its head in an endeavour to throw the hook. Another attribute of the Barra is its eating quality. It is regarded by many as the best eating fish in all of Australia. 
    Barramundi can be caught all year round in the Northern Territory, but you need to know where and when to get the best out of it. Barra fishing is largely controlled by the seasons. During the usual wet or green season, from January to March, many of the dirt roads are impassable and fishing is generally restricted to areas near the bitumen. 
  The Adelaide, Mary and South Alligator Rivers along the Arnhem Highway, the McArthur River at Borroloola and the Victoria River west of Katherine are popular. Most wet season Barra are caught from small boats, usually by anchoring and casting 
to creek mouths where there is flood water run-off, or by fishing in the channels on the 
floodplains. Near Darwin, Barramundi can be caught in the harbour arms, in the creeks and estuaries of Shoal Bay, at Leaders Creek and in the Boyne Harbour. 
         From Easter well into May is the post wet and one of the best times for Barramundi, 
particuarly in the rivers as the floods recede and the fish congregate around freshwater creek 
run-offs to feed on small fish and prawns. Trolling is generally the best method because the water is at its coolest and the Barra tend to stay deep. Most fish are caught by trolling close to the banks or weed beds, or over submerged snags or rock bars. The build-up to the wet season, usually late September to December, offers many options. 
Water temperature in the lagoons is rising and  the Barramundi are becoming increasingly active. 
Good fishing is still to be had by trolling, but casting at snags and fishing at night with surface 
lures is also worthwhile.

  
         Lagoons along the Mary River, in Kakadu National Park and in the Gulf region are prime 
locations. During the build-up, the salt water option is at its prime and most fishing takes place in the estuarine creeks and inlets.  Darwin Harbour Arms and Shoal Bay are very popular, as are the creeks near the Adelaide River mouth and in the Bynoe Harbour south-west of Darwin. As a general rule, Barra in the tidal rivers bite better during the last couple of hours of the run-out tide. In the salt water creeks and estuaries a couple of hours either side of low tide are best. 
                                                    ABORIGINAL SEASONS 
The Gagudju  aboriginal people of this area have been following their own seasonal weather patterns for over 50,000 years. I like their version. 

GUDJEWG: (January - March) the time of the north-west winds which blow in the monsoon winds of the wet. There may be long periods of rain. It is a time of new growth & new life. 

BANGGERDENG: (April) begins with a light south-east wind. The new winds bring in storms of a 
violent nature which the people of the north call "knock-em-down" storms. They knock over the ripe grasses and ready them for burning. Often they bring the last rains of the year. It is also the time for the women of the tribes to go bush and dig up the succulent yam roots. 
 

YEGGE: (May - June) The south-east winds increase and bring on the start of the Dry. Nights begin to cool and morning fogs hang over the floodplains. Seed-eating birds disperse to the south and the first of many bushfires blacken the sky. Kite Hawks and Crows become numerous, while in the billabong the Barramundi goes off its food. 

WARRGENG: (June - July) This is the cold season, the northern winter. Sometimes it gets as cold as 18 degrees celcius. The trees flower and there is an abundance of native "Sugar Bag" bees and many nectar eating birds. Dry winds increase in strength from the south. 

GURRUNG: (August - September) The winds become even hotter and the earth dries up and cracks. The dry air ripens the pandanus fruits while myriad flocks of Magpie Geese feed on the spike- rush tubers in the muddy swamps and billabongs. 

GUNEMELENG: (October - December) The humidity increases and the weather becomes hot and stifling. 
    It becomes almost unbearable to move out of the shade into the sun. The wind can't make up its mind from which direction to blow. As the heat intensifies, violent thunder 
and lightning storms begin to roam the land bringing short bursts of heavy rain. The earth 
heals again and new growth appears. 
 
   Australia's Northern Territory is famous for its spectacular natural attractions, and the variety and abundance of its flora and fauna. 
  The top-end is a fishing and boating paradise. Recreational fishing allows resident and visitor alike a chance to enjoy the Territory's unique environment to the fullest. An increasing number of anglers from Australia and around the world regularly visit, either to fish using their own devises, or by using one of the many experienced fishing guides. For many of us, fishing is more than just another sport or pastime. It is a way of life which offers a lifetime of new and enriching experiences. 
      Because the thrill of the catch and encounters with great fish takes place amidst a unique, remote natural environment, the tag of "new Frontier" given to this area by many anglers with international experience is no accident. A fishing trip to the top-end will leave you with unforgetable memories, and in years to come you will still be "Barramundi Dreaming".

For more information on fishing holidays in Australia, contact
Garry Goldate
PO Box 287
Elsternwick
Victoria 3185
Australia
ph: + 61-3-9783 1104
fax:   61 3 9783 1017
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 galco98@hotmail.com

 

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