Martin and companion John were hoping to escape some un-seasonally cool Sydney weather and sample some of the serious barramundi action for which the Tiwi Islands – of which Melville Island is the largest – are renowned.
John is a Melville regular but pommie newcomer Martin was keen to add to his already impressive list of Aussie fish captures which have included some iconic species such as marlin, tuna, kingfish, snapper, bass and trevally. He was also interested to find out the contribution that the angling operation makes to the island economy as part of his on-going work following the recent publication of his Keep Australia Fishing report; a detailed study which, amongst many findings, has recommended the launching of a national campaign to counter the threats to recreational fishing in the country.
Unfortunately the Northern Territory had also experienced the same cooling with a significant 5 degree drop in water temperature a few days before they arrived. Just as here in the UK a sudden temperature drop can switch everything off down under as well and the big barra were reluctant to come out to play.
Despite the fact it was tough going the pair still caught their share with the best a 73cm specimen in a shared catch of 20 fish. Not bad you might say but a far cry from the 100 fish catches to 90cm plus which anglers were taking the week before in more typical conditions.
Although the barramundi weren’t feeding hard the action was made up by an impressive array of other species, some 18 in total, which shows why Melville’s reputation as one of the top Australian fishing lodges is based on more than just barramundi. One of the main reasons for this is that unlike other venues Melville is not quite so tide dependent and has a large number of reef systems, bays and creeks so whatever the conditions there is always somewhere worth fishing and something worth fishing for.
In addition to barra Martin and John landed saratoga, mangrove jacks, golden snapper, black jewfish, red-throat sweet lip, Spanish flag, alligator gar, black spot and gold spot cod, tarpon, blue salmon, queenfish, GT’s, barracuda, fork tailed catfish, red emperor and reef sharks.
Martin very nearly missed out on his first saratoga in a bizarre incident when a sea eagle swooped out of the sky just as he hooked up on a surface lure. He explained:
“I knew that the upper reaches of Goose Creek would be my only chance of landing this rarest and most frustrating of Aussie fishes before returning to the UK and I had just worked out how to get them to hit my fizzer and was having the usual nightmare trying to set the hooks in their bony gobs when the sky turned black as a ‘toga and the eagle collided either side of the lure. Incredibly the fish stayed on and the bird went away hungry!”
Martin added, “Melville Island really does have everything a mad keen angler could want and if the barra are not playing ball there’s such a variety of other species to go for that it’s almost impossible not to have a good time.”
Martin will be returning to the UK in August 2011 where he hopes to continue his work promoting recreational fishing.
For more on Melville Island Lodge go to www.melvillelodge.com.au