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Australia & New Zealand Fishing : Australia: A great day on the deep

on 2013/6/30 12:47:51 (3015 reads)

WHAT happens when you put a group of keen anglers on a top-notch Darwin charter boat for a day and the whole occasion is sponsored by a brewery?

Well, for starters, there's no way you're going to run out of beer.

More importantly, you can expect everyone to get stuck into the fish.

That was certainly the scenario last week when I joined a group of lucky winning patrons from the Casuarina All Sports Club and the Palmerston Sports Club on a day out with Arafura Bluewater Charters.

Our boat was perfect for the mission: Wai Adi, a 13.5m open-deck cruiser with seating down the centre for the punters and ample fishing room at the sides and stern for at least 14 anglers.

Sponsored by CUB, this was always going to be a fun day, especially if the fish agreed to co-operate.

Of course, as in all fishing, the skill factor is an integral component. And in this respect, Arafura Bluewater Charters has the runs on the board.

For more than 15 years, it has been operated by Steve and Cheryl Compain of Darwin's two Tackle World stores. Currently, it has a fleet of four purpose-built charter boats which do trips from just half-day duration up to five days extended.

For our trip, we had as skipper Terry Ryan, a seasoned Darwin offshore warrior whose Lowrance GPS had more dots on the screen than a 2m-high bark painting from Arnhem Land.

Just quietly, Terry has been part of the Barra Classic Champion Team for the past two years running.

But there were no barra on this trip. Our target species for the day included golden snapper, black jew, coral trout, saddle-tail snapper and spanish mackerel.

To achieve this - and given that the seas were quite tolerable - the journey would take us out to fish some of the furthest day-trip waypoints marked on the skipper's GPS.

Wai Adi has two crew aboard, the second being young Jack Cassar the decky who seemed to be in six places at the same time.

It was a good two hours before we arrived at our first spot, and Jack had all the boat's rods rigged and the bait cut up ready to be served on 5/0s to whatever fish were down below.

I must say I was impressed with Jack's spiel to the group about how to bait up and use the outfits supplied. It left nothing in doubt.

So, with anchor locked in, down went the baits and the action was fast and hectic right from the start.

Mainly the troops were catching nice-sized saddle-tails, but in due course the goldies turned up and some super fish were put on board.

We were fishing waters much deeper than 10m, so barotrauma was now a serious consideration.

This has been quite well publicised by NT Fisheries and needs to be taken seriously by Top End anglers.

Basically, a reef fish - in particular golden snapper and jewfish - that is caught in water deeper than 10m will be injured from gases that expand in its body as it is brought up.

This inflates the swim bladder, which in turn pushes the internal organs out of the fish's orifices.

Terry explained this to everyone when asked why no fish were being released.

"In water this deep, once they're on board, they're dead if we fillet them and they're dead if we throw them overboard because the sharks will eat them," he said.

It's important to note that Arafura Bluewater Charters has a strong conservation ethic on its charters - for starters, bag limits are never reached as the anchor is pulled up when good numbers have come aboard, and the boat moves to shallower waters where it's possible to release fish unharmed.

I suppose we fished a dozen locations on the day, and everyone seemed to catch fish and have an awesome time.

Plus Jack bled, processed and iced the catch almost as soon as it came onboard.

So everyone took home a good feed of those beautiful fresh fish.

Oh, and the beer was cold too!

Anyone interested in an Arafura Bluewater Charter can phone 8932 3006 or just log on to

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