Darwin with BC
My wife and I recently took the opportunity to get away in the motorhome, and since it was over forty years since we had last visited the top end, we decided to head north from Adelaide in early September.  It took a while to get to Darwin, siteseeing along the way and returning to Alice Springs where we had lived for periods in the 70's and 80's. Yes kiddies, the 1970's, it has got a lot busier since then.  We were aware that it was a bit late in the year but family obligations limited our options, so we hoped for a delayed start to the buildup.  We did the normal spots and added some new ones like Edith Falls and Elsey National Park, then onto Kakadu and Litchfield.  The barra weren't all that interested at Kakadu, they were just drifting around with heads down and waiting for the breeding season to get underway.  After Litchfield it was on to Darwin, while trying to get a three way fridge to behave in the heat.  Temperatures south of Darwin were close to 40C in the day and over 30C at night, but in Darwin only reaching mid 30's, relatively cool given we had come from south were it was about 8 to 18C. 

I had emailed Darwin Flyrodders in the past with a few details related to my club, Frequent Flyrodders in Adelaide.  So I emailed Darwin Flyrodders contact officer
Alex Godfrey, to ask about the possibility of hooking up with someone when I got there.  If I got there, given that the motorhome is a 1986 Toyota Coaster, but it did just fine and we arrived safely (the roads are really good - the roughest roads for the trip were in Adelaide's suburbs).  I gave Alex and Jami a call, a week or two after the saltwater challenge, and one of them said someone would be in touch, which was most appreciated.  A few minutes later my phone rang and it was BC, asking whether I wanted to go fishing later in the week - wow, what a fantastic response, so thanks to all involved.  I had no idea who this BC character was, but if he was happy to take me fishing then I was pleased to accept his kind offer.

Next phone call and we had a day and time with BC picking me up from my caravan park on Friday afternoon with the plan made for an evening/night fish.  Face to face and I got to meet Tim Harding, back to his place and get going to the ramp, apart from a small technical problem, an hour or two later and we were on our way.  Tim had only got back from o/s the previous week, he explained that the large tides were going to make it difficult.  But compared to Adelaide it was fantastic, but not without a lot of work on Tim's part as there was not much surface action under the lights of the wharves and walls - a full moon was not helping much either but it made me feel a bit more secure being able to see silhouettes in the dark.  I am glad I didn't tow my little boat up there as I would not have had a clue where to go.  Tim's boat is bigger than mine with a chart plotter/sounder bigger than my tv.  As the tide was running quickly we used fast sink lines to get down, mine was a shooting head of T14 which is pretty ugly to cast, but first blood was a nice queenie from the refinery area.  Tim was having no luck to start with but he caned me later in the night on some finicky tarpon.  I got a few but he showed me how to do it properly, it is a lot like mulloway fishing down south or diamond trevally fishing at Weipa.  A very slow retrieve with only the lightest of bites to indicate a tarpon was on the fly, they were good size and a personal first for me as I had never caught them before.  Tim works very hard at his fishing and it was a beautiful warm night, we called it quits sometime after 3am and Tim said his wife would pick me up at 8:30am and we would hit it again.Nice QueenieFirst tarponBC at work

Tim's wife picked me up a few hours later, we were meeting Tim on the beach , after taking his grandson and daughter for a boat ride.  First time for the young fella to get him hooked at an early age, unfortunately the soothing effect of the water had him asleep for much of the trip.  I hopped in and got to see Darwin Harbor under a beautiful blue sky with very little wind, the same tides made it tough and fish were few and far between.  We tried everywhere Tim could think of and I think he eventually hooked a fish up a mangrove lined creek, I think I blanked - put it down to memory loss.  By mid afternoon we had seen enough to know it was time to head home for a cleanup and a beer.
Thanks to you and your wife Tim, you both made it a trip to remember and hopefully you will make it south some time so that I can reciprocate, for your sake you had better make it in the warmer months to avoid hypothermia.

All I can say is give Darwin a try if you have the chance, local knowledge makes a big difference.  I did some land based fishing at Lees Point and Buffalo Creek with no luck, but the boat ramp at East Arm produced a small barra and a 60cm golden trevally, so I was pretty happy with my topend adventure.

I have recommended to our members at Frequent Flyrodders that we should try to field a team for the Saltwater Challenge, so its a work in progress, hopefully we can make it back to the far north.

John Pethick