Fishing for Barramundi in Kakadu

Photo: Steve de Vroom

After a mammoth wet season the word was finally out that Four Mile Hole was open for fishing. That news was enough to raise the pulse of any serious Top End fisherman.

I was camped a few km inside Kakadu National Park at a pre arranged point. A couple of numbers that represented a unique position on the face of the earth. The GPS guided me precisely to this point late in the evening. I drove off the road into the bush and did a 3-point turn placing the caravan in a clearing between the trees so that I was pointing out towards the road.

Thursday morning just before dawn. Breakfast done, van unhooked and Troopy was ready to go, just as Dave and his son Marty pulled up with the boat in tow. We headed off into the dawn, through two water crossings and down the dusty winding road to Four Mile Hole.

45 minutes later we arrived as the sun peeped over the horizon and painted the Kakadu landscape with gold. Four Mile Hole is part of the Wildman River system. A pristine body of water lined with ti trees and pandans. It was deep and still with the morning light dancing on the surface. Eagles, kites, cranes and other tropical birds inhabit the lagoon, but king of the waterway is the crocodile. We stayed a respectable distance from the edge.

I admired the magic of the morning and took a couple of happy snaps. Dave jumped from his car and started getting the boat ready. Dave Krantz without a fish on the end of his line is a bit like an alcoholic without a bottle in his hand. Nothing else matters. Nothing else will calm the nerves and bring a smile to his face, than to land a big barra into the boat. The need was urgent.

Marty held the line as the boat was launched and in moment we were on board and getting started. The engine roared into life and we were planing along the surface of the water headed for a favourite spot.

First we trolled for a while as we headed towards “the mother lode”, a special zone where an upwelling spring attracts barra in large numbers. But another boat had beaten us to the spot. So we move upstream a bit and fished the edges, the middle and around the corner. Dave caught the first fish, just under the limit at 53cm. But his was trumped by Marty who pulled one in at 73cm, the biggest for the day. Not bad for a lad of 105 months old.

Photo: Steve de Vroom

A few crocs were sighted floating by, mostly submerged. They disappear if you come close. Then, as we approached the far end of the lagoon, Marty spotted what I had been hoping for. A very large croc sunning himself on a log. What a shot! He had his mouth open as he enjoyed a siesta in the sun. After posing for the camera motionless, he quietly slid off the log and disappeared into the backwaters.

Freshwater barra have a flavour that is not as good as the saltwater dwellers, so we didn’t keep any fish. They all had a reprieve to swim and be caught again another day.

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