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A social group of dedicated fly fishers who are passionate about fly fishing in the tropical north of Australia and equally as passionate about the close camaraderie this sport brings. This passion and dedication led to the creation of the NT Flyfishers Social Mob blog site; an interactive and creative outlet where everyone can share our wonderful fly fishing adventures and link into the “after fishing” social events we enjoy in this incredible part of the world.

Monday, 29 February 2016

A test run at Corroboree

A Test Run at Corroboree

Last week I found a boat to replace our little tinnie. We’ve added two little girls to the family since we last lived here. Croc safety is something I have to take far more seriously now that we have snacked sized people gift wrapped in life jackets on the boat.  So it was with child containment as a priority that I bought a used 4.8m side console from ‘Old Mate’. Saturday I went for a quick run in the harbour with the family, where it was proven that a one year old at full noise is far louder than a 60HP four-stroke with a wide open throttle. 

Millie likes the upgrade to Wind Knot 1
With the family ‘sea trial’ out of the way, Sunday was time for a serious fishing trial. After much consideration of Darwin Harbour vs. Bynoe vs. Corroboree vs. Spot X, Tony and I opted for Corroboree, knowing that in the very least we could have some fun with tarpon on trout rods. Of course in the back of our minds was the fact that there were still some red tagged barra out there somewhere. 
Tony into a tarpon on his 5 wt.

put a big bend in the little fibreglass rod!

The day didn't start well when, with the boat in the water, we discovered the starter battery lacked the required volts to do its job (‘Old Mate’ hadn't mentioned the stuffed battery. Thanks ‘Old Mate’). Much stuffing about without the appropriate tools and skin off Tony’s knuckles had the auxiliary battery out of the Land Rover and into the boat. With the engine now making the appropriate ‘bromming’ noises we were on our way. 

 It looked like there was more water in the billabong than three weeks ago and at first we headed up the little arm near the boat ramp. Tarpon rising everywhere, but no barra to be found.

We gave the boat a good run and ending up past Catfish Island before turning around and fishing our way back toward the ramp. Along the way we had a great session on bigger than average tarpon. Tony on his graphite 5wt and me with casting the Epic 8ft #4wt fibreglass rod I built in March last year. Thirty centimetre tarpon put a healthy bend in a glass trout rod. After boating over a dozen tarpon between us, and Tony landing a hefty catfish, we put the noodily trout sticks down and went hunting for barra again.
The second fish ever landed on the Epic 4wt I built last March. The first was a rainbow trout.
The electronics performed as advertised but the little arches appearing on the sounder were all tarpon as best we could tell from the bumps to the flies and occasional observation boat side. As the sun began to get low on the horizon we focused our efforts on casting around the base of clumps of pandanus. Pulling up short of a likely spot that had been good to me previously (5 years ago) I noticed what was unmistakably a crocodile on the sidescan. The beast was three to four metres given my interpretation of the display. I mentioned this to Tony and we moved fifty metres further up and into casting range of the pandanus. Perhaps we’d made six or so casts each, when I timed a good haul and got my fly into a gap behind the lilies. The fly was smashed the moment it touched the water and I was up tight on the first big fish - other than Tony’s catfish and in my humble opinion nothing with cat in its name can be counted as a fish - of the day! 

The flie is a barra rattle rouses, in gold, black and yellow.
I gained a metre of line on it before it buried itself in amongst the lilies. I gave a bit of line - nothing.  I retrieved a bit of line – nothing. I tugged – nothing. I lifted as much as I dared – a thump. The fish was still on, but there was no retrieving it. Cue the Benny Hill music as we used the electric to circle around the lilies in an attempt to get the fish unstuck. Eventually, and being very mindful of the croc I’d seen on the sounder, Tony set to work gardening in the aquatic environment. The landing net proved wholly inadequate for the task, but to his credit Tony persisted in uprooting lilies and eventually the fish was free. A lovely saratoga was netted and is very likely the biggest gulf saratoga (Scleropages jardinii)I’ve ever caught and a good match for my biggest Dawson River saratoga (Scleropages leichardti). Tony thoroughly deserves a special mention for the capture of this fish, without his determined effort the fish very likely would have ended up stuck around the lilies and become croc food.

This toga buried me deep in some lilies, it took about fifteen minutes and lots of stuffing around to extract it. We both thought it was big barra at first.
After having spun the boat back, forwards, left, right and all over that fishing spot we moved on again. At the next clump of pandanus I was lucky enough to hook another, smaller, toga. This one fought cleanly and was ably netted boat side by Tony. With the sun now low on the horizon and a lone mozzie buzzing around my ear it was time to head for the ramp and dinner at Corroboree Park Tavern.
The second toga was a cleaner fight and lovely fish to close out the day.

My verdict on the boat following a full days fishing:

-          Starter battery needs replacing.

-          More wet stuff came out of the bungs at the end of the day than I’m happy with. This didn’t happen after an hours test run with ‘Old Mate’ last week. Water probably came from the inlet or outlet of one of the three live wells. I’m considering removing 66% of the live wells and plumbing.

-          A large esky makes a perfectly adequate rear casting deck. Carpeting the lid of the esky will make it even better.

-          Electronics are great, but aren’t necessary for ‘blind’ casting to fishy looking snags hard up against the bank.

-          Front casting deck would be better raised.

-          Anchor well needs a cover.

-          20 litres of fuel for covering Corroboree from the ramp to past catfish island beats the fuel economy of my tinne and 40HP 2 stroke.

-          A side console is infinitely more comfortable for a full day on the water than a 2 stroke tiller steer.

-          Rod storage needs improving if I’m going to carry three or more fully rigged outfits.

-          Overall it’s a great improvement over the tinnie and a very fishable boat. I’m looking forward to getting out chasing pelagics and learning all about fishing Bynoe.


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