Straight Up The Top!
It was a simple plan. At the beginning of 2018, we decided to complete a lap of Australia. It was genius, because it meant we didn’t really have to come up with any ideas. The fishing would take care of itself. Or so we thought.
Our rig: a brand new D-MAX. Behind it we tow a 7.8m Bar Crusher with a 300hp Yamaha. It’s the ultimate tailer boat rig and so far we’ve made it from Melbourne to Darwin via many, many amazing fishing spots along the way—including the very tip of Cape York.
In 2019, our 13-episode season saw us cross our home state of Tassie—via the Western Australian coast. Among our adventures was a 200-mile journey through the Kimberley by sea. But we had to start somewhere and that place was Kakadu. In February.
We spent time in the NT every year, but we’d never before visited in the wet season. As we headed east from Darwin, two things stood out: firstly, we basically had the entire place to ourselves. There were no tourists, no nomads, not even any locals about. The roads were empty.
Secondly, it was stinking hot. Only 35 degrees, but with a close, humid heat we Tasweigens were not used to! Standing outside was like diving into a pit full of warm, wet towels. Anyway, in the leather-clad and air-conditioned comfort of the D-MAX, we arrived at the South Alligator River ready to fish.
Our plan was to fish the mouth of the River, which is some 100 kilometres from the boat ramp. They sure do long runs in the Territory to find a fish! To make matters more complicated we were faced with the biggest tides of the year—nearly eight metres!
The difference between high tide at the mouth and at the boat ramp is three hours. And if you get stuck on the river at low tide, it’s full of sandbars, where you’ll find yourself stuck for half a day or more in the blistering heat surrounded by large saltwater crocs. It was difficult to get our sweaty heads around.
"Standing outside was like diving into a pit full of warm, wet towels. Anyway, in the leather-clad and air-conditioned comfort of the D-MAX, we arrived at the South Alligator River ready to fish."
Thankfully we had a local to help. Our guru for the day, Paul Williams, was confident, so we launched on a slippery, muddy ramp in the middle of Kakadu and off we went. A couple of hours later, we’d arrived at a small creek, which we started trolling up.
The fishing was tough, but we did get one big Threadfin Salmon that was dispatched and put on ice for dinner. The big Barra we were after didn’t make an appearance and it wasn’t long before our window of opportunity closed.
We managed to scrape our way back to the boat ramp—but only just—and then headed back to the motel for a feed of fresh thready. Next morning, we unhitched the boat and grabbed a couple of Baitcaster rods and a box of lures and headed off to explore.
Enjoying the 130km/h speed limit, it wasn’t long before we reached Jabiru and turned off on the Kakadu Highway. Along the way we kept stopping at all the bridges and bigger culverts for a few casts. This type of fishing from the side of the road is unique and when the Top End enjoys a bigger wet season than the one we were having, the Barra action can be red hot.
Basically, as the floodplains fill up and start to run off, the barra make use of the drains under the road, which hold food. All you have to do is stop and cast. If you have no luck, just jump back into the car and drive on. Both Nick and I loved this. We even managed a few little Barra to make a great segment of the show. It’s back-to-basics, cheap fishing fun. If we ever get the opportunity to do it again when there is a little more water laying around we’ll jump at it. But for now, we have a Kimberley adventure to plan for!