After a long cold Sydney Winter it was with much anticipation that we boarded our Qantas flight to Darwin. The mission? To go fishing and to win a million dollars while we were at it!
For those unacquainted, each year in the Northern Territory 101 barramundi are caught and released in known recreational barramundi fishing hotspots with specially numbered red tags. 100 of these tags are worth $10,000 if the fish is recaptured during the competition period, with one other special barramundi worth a whopping $1,000,000.
The competition has been a great success over previous years and has seen tens of thousands of people, both locals and tourists, out participating in the fantastic sport of fishing with the hope of snagging some prize money while they’re at it.
So, armed with our Summer clothes, a handful of Squidgy soft plastics and some Shimano spin and baitcast outfits we were off to play the barramundi lottery and with six $10,000 prizes already won in the first few weeks of the competition we were quietly confident.
After landing in Darwin and picking up our hire car we spent the rest of the afternoon sight seeing around this highly underrated Australian city before embarking on a sunset harbor cruise with City of Darwin Cruises. With the warm tropical weather and the champagnes going down like water it was hard not to fall in love with this city and its beautiful harbour.
Day 2 dawned and before we started fishing it was time to tick something off the bucket list – swimming with a monster crocodile!
Our experience at Crocosaurus Cove in the heart of the city was something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life and the size of these beasts truly has to be seen to be believed. Seeing them just centimetres away through a layer of thin perspex certainly got the heart racing and I was still buzzing more than an hour after we got out of the water. I made a promise to myself then and there to stay well and truly in the boat for the rest of our fishing trips up here!
Croc swim done it was time to hit a breezy Darwin Harbour with Rohan Soulsby from Top End Barra Fishing. First stop was retrieving some crab pots from a mangrove lined creek which produced 3 of the biggest (and later tastiest) mudcrabs I’ve ever seen in the flesh.
We then enjoyed an action packed afternoon in some protected creeks casting lures to a host of species including mangrove jacks, barra, blue salmon and the ever reliable Queenfish. Tom on the other hand kept the local catfish population occupied and may have even initially called one for a barra…
We didn’t find any red tags for the afternoon but the huge feed of mud crabs that were cooked up for us by Tim’s Surf and Turf more than made up for it. 3 huge muddies between two people? Challenge accepted….
Not able to fit another ounce of crab meat in we waddled back to the Adina Waterfront and crashed for the night. Today was going to be hard to top, but tomorrow we were going Helifishing!
If Helifishing isn’t already on your bucket list then it should be and despite my fear of flying and heights I can honestly say it was easily the coolest fishing trip I’ve ever been on. It’s hard to put in to words just how beautiful the scenery was as we departed Darwin and headed towards the mouth of the Daly River but AHH-MAZING sums it up pretty well. The buffaloes, crocs, wetlands, billabongs and bird life were out of this world and the trip was made even before we’d touched down at the first remote creek.
Not only does a helicopter give you the ability to access waterways that cannot be easily accessed any other way, but the team from Helifish have permission to land on aboriginal land, meaning many of the creeks are about as lightly fished as you can get up here. So if the chopper ride alone doesn’t make your day then the remote creeks filled with hungry barra certainly will and over the course of the day we had a ball flying from from spot to spot, catching several nice barramundi and jumping off many more.
One thing’s for sure, Helifishing is an incredibly professional operation and is worth every cent for the two plus hours you’ll spend in the helicopter alone, let alone the fact you’ll get a chance to fish in areas that very few people ever get the chance to.
Sadly all good things must come to an end and after an action packed day in the chopper it was time to fly to our next destination, Point Stuart Wilderness Lodge for the next part of our adventure.
Stay tuned for part 2!
For more information on the Million dollar fish or to find out more about the Northern Territory you can check out the below links: