Australian Fishing Travel – Arnhemland Barramundi Nature Lodge

The Arnhemland Barramundi Nature Lodge offers one of the most amazing remote sport fishing adventures available anywhere in the world and continues to attract repeat guests year after year.

The wonders of Arnhem Land in Australia’s far north provide world-class fishing for Barramundi and more than 30 other sensational sport and reef fishing species. Catering primarily for those seeking an incredible fishing experience, the lodge also offers amazing bird watching and observance of some of the countries finest aboriginal culture.

The Location

Situated on the far north coast of Australia’s Northern Territory, Arnhem Land is the largest and most remote Aboriginal land reserve in the country. The Lodge is located on the coast near the Maningrida Aboriginal community, approximately 400 kilometres (60 minutes by air) to the north east of Darwin, the capital city of the Northern Territory.

Arnhem Land was declared in the 1930’s as inalienable Aboriginal freehold land, a unique title in its form. In the 1950’s the settlement of Maningrida was established at the mouth of the Liverpool River flowing into the Arafura Sea on Australia’s far north coast. Arnhemland Barramundi Nature Lodge is located on a private escarpment just 20 minutes from Maningrida.

Getting There…

Although accessible by road, seasonal flooding limits this option as it regularly creates impassable road conditions. Guests are in most cases flown in and out on scheduled flights via the regional airline, Airnorth. A private airstrip is available for those who choose to charter a private plane.

The Local Environment

The landscape ranges from rocky sandstone plateau and escarpment to the south, down the catchment through to gently rippled lowland plains to vast floodplains and coastal terrain.

Virtually endless open Eucalyptus forests are the dominant vegetation of the region comprising almost 40% of the area.

Around the estuarine areas of Maningrida are some 34 Mangrove species, mainly occurring as a fringe immediately adjacent to the Liverpool River system.

The Climate

The Lodge is located in the seasonal tropics and has a distinctive wet and dry season. Typically of tropical environment, the summer season is wet with almost all rain falling between December and April.

The dry season between June and September is notable for its complete lack of rain. The between months of October and November are known as periods of temperature and humidity change as the monsoon troughs start to move in from the south.

The Fishing

While the infamous Barramundi is the best known of the northern Australian sport fish, there are countless other species on offer in the region. Hard-fighting species likely to strike your lines include Barracuda, Blue Salmon, Cobia, Giant Trevally, Golden Trevally (GT’s), Longtail Tuna, Mangrove Jack, Queenfish, Red Emperor, Snapper, Saratoga, Spanish Mackeral and Threadfin Salmon.

A plethora of alternate reef fish can also found on the offshore reefs. Some species, including the famous Black Jewfish and Golden Snapper can be caught around the estuary rockbars similar to environments in which Barramundi are found. Trolled and jigged lures are extremely effective as well as live and fresh baits.

The Fishing Gear

The Lodge provides a wide range of quality tackle and equipment for guests including Shimano gear for Barramundi and offshore reef fishing.

Shimano Curado or Chronarch reels are mated to Shimano Barra Raider of Barra Raider Magnum rods. In some instances Shimano T Curve Tournament rods are also used. Reels are spooled with reputable brands such as Platil Millenium, Fins PRT or Platypus braided Lines.

Quality Shimano equipment is also used for offshore fishing including Stradi and overhead tgekota reels matched to a range of Shimano rods. Typically the reels are loaded with 15-20kg braided lines. Additionally, a variety of locally proven lures are provided. All tackle and equipment is provided to guests on a «replace if lost or damaged basis.«

No Tackle is provided but the following suggested tackle list is well worth considering before you pack your gear:

For Barramundi:

Rods : 1.8m (6 foot )Medium Heavy / Heavy action Graphite suit 6 – 10kg line such as Shimano Barra Raider, Shimano Tcurve Tournament.

Reels : Baitcaster reel ie; Shimano Chronarch, Calcutta or Curado 200 or 300 size or similar

Line : Good Quality Braid/ Gelspun Line 10 – 15kg (20- 30lb) is ideal, Platil Millenium or FINS are proven brands

Leader : 20- 30kg (40 – 70lb), 1 – 1.5m Wind on Monofilament or Flurocarbon.

Lures : Saltwater Grade lures ie Bomber Long A, Classic Barra 10 & 15+, Classic F18 Manta Ray, Rapala X Rap & Magnum, Killalure Barra Bait & Flatz Rat, Manns Stretch 12+, Halco Scorpions, Storm Minnows, Reidy’s Goulbourn Jack, Nilsmaster Spearhead, Rebel Poppers & Bill’s Bug Fizzers. Soft Plastic Shads 75 – 100mm & plastic prawns are also effective. Lures in the 70 – 150mm range are about right. Note: Heavy Duty hooks & split rings should be fitted to all lures.

Offshore (Blue-water) – Pelagic Fish:

Rods : 1.9 – 2.1m (7 foot) Fast action Medium Heavy / Heavy action Graphite suit 8- 15kg line

Reels : Threadline reel ie Shimano Stella, Stradic or similar 4000 to 6000 size alternately Shimano Calcutta 400 or 700 or Trinidad or Tekota overhead reels

Line : Good Quality Braid/ Gelspun Line 10 – 15kg (20- 30lb) is ideal. Platil Millenium & Fins PRT are proven brands

Leader : 20 – 30kg (40 – 70lb) Monofilament also single strand wire trace for Mackerel

Lures : Saltwater Grade lures ie Bomber Long A, Rapala Magnum, Rapala Countdown, Mackerel Mauler, Classic Bluewater & Classic 160, Reidy’s Judge, Halco Rooster Poppers, Raider Jigs & chrome casting slugs. Note: Heavy Duty hooks & split rings should be fitted to all lures.

Soft Plastic stick or jerk Shads 80 – 150mm (3.5 – 6″) & are also effective. Bluewater trolling lures in the 100 – 200mm range are about right. Also some casting slugs are also handy.

Fly Fishing:

Rods :9 or 10 wt outfit for Barra or 10 – 12wt for blue-water – 4 piece for ease of transport

Reels : Quality salt water grade aluminium disc drag reel that holds at least 150 – 200m of 15kg backing.

Lines : Floating WF, Intermediate WF & Hi-Density WF Sink tip lines will fit the bill.

Flies : Clouser Minnow 1/0 – 3/0, Pink Things, Black & Barred 2/0 – 5/0, Surf Candy, Fat Boys 4/0 – 6/0, Deceivers & Bendbacks plus some popper flies in assorted sizes.

Good colours include all white, Chartreuse over white, Gray over white & Fluro Yellow/ White, Yellow/Red, Pink/White or all Black. Make sure that you incorporate some flash material into your flies as well.

Leader : Anglers preferred leader configuration or standard IGFA configuration 8 – 10kg with a minimum shock/bite tippet of 20kg. Wire is only necessary if you wish to target mackerel species.

The Boat Fishing

The Lodge has a fleet of 8 boats currently for all guided fishing tours. They are superbly fitted out with new Evinrude E-Tec Motors, folding canopies, boarding ladders, VHF Marine radios, full safety kit (including life jackets) & EPIRB locating beacons. In addition; First Aid Kits, Rain Jackets and Satellite Phones are all provided on each boat.

For each guided tour a cooler complete with picnic lunch and soft drinks is packed fresh with ice. Large dispensers with fresh iced water are replenished daily on each boat.

The Lodge Accommodation

Accommodation at the Arnhemland Barramundi Nature Lodge is provided in two distinct options – Deluxe Ensuite Cabins and Tropical Habitat Safari Tents.

There are four purpose-designed cabins that provide all the comforts required including ensuite bathrooms and luxury king size beds. The cabins are situated right on the edge of the Tomkinson River Valley escarpment in a magnificent bush environment.

The cabins can be set up to accommodate couples (king size bed) or four individuals in extra long king singles.

Each of the cabins has a bar fridge, twin oscillating fans that are ideally positioned to take advantage of the interior breezy safari style design. There are six large fly-mesh windows that can be fully or partly closed down for privacy when required.

All of the cabins come equipped with spacious ensuite bathrooms with gas heated hot water, enclosed showers, porcelain basins and modern toilet facilities.

As an alternative to the cabins, the Lodge offers guests the option of safari tent accommodation set in a wonderful natural bush environment. These permanent tents can sleep up to four people. The safari tents have a shared bathroom with shower, basin, toilet plus hot and cold running water.

The Lodge Facilities

Perched on the fringe of a natural escarpment overlooking the Liverpool and Tomkinson River valleys, the Lodge offers a large communal living/kitchen/dining area with a bar and tasteful décor.

A massive 96 square meter timber deck patio extends directly out over the escarpment edge. The deck is ideally shaded and provides magnificent vistas and sunset views for guests as they enjoy a quiet cool drink after an adventurous day on the water.

A landline phone and fax is available to guests for emergencies and there are satellite phones provided on each of the eight tour boats. Given its remote location, there is no mobile (cell) phone service at the Lodge but there is coverage at the local aboriginal settlement (Maningrida).

The in-house chef prepares sensational culinary delights of fresh fish and mud crabs each day. Special dietary requirements can be catered for with advanced notice. The local water is not only suitable for drinking it may well be the best spring water you will ever have the pleasure to try.

Pre dinner snacks are served at the bar on your return to the lodge after a day of fishing. Guests can enjoy a refreshing ice cold drink while savouring delicious barra bites or other delicacies while the chef prepares your dinner.

Speaking of dinner – a two-course meal is served each evening in the main dining area of the lodge. Guests will enjoy a range of local delicacies including chilli mud crabs, pepper calamari as well as fresh fish and oysters.

The main lodge area is fully screened, with inside dining for 16 plus a comfortable lounge area. The dining room and the balcony are cooled by a series of very effective overhead fans.

The Barramundi Bar is located on the patio together with additional outdoor seating & dining for up to 24. The bar is stocked with a selection of quality beer, wine & soft drinks that are complimentary to guests.

If you prefer spirits, specialty wines or premium beer arrangements can be made prior to arrival for special beverage orders though it will be at an additional cost.

No alcohol is to be taken to or consumed in the local community of Maningrida.

What Should I Pack?

It’s a warm tropical climate so clothing should be lightweight and comfortable, especially to fish in. Light shoes are also recommended such as sneakers or deck shoes. Open shoes such as sandals for evenings are a good idea.

A pair of good quality polarised sunglasses are essential. The crystal clear waters allow for plenty of visibility with at decent pair of polarised sunglasses. Don’t forget to pack a wide-brimmed hat as well for sun protection.

There’ plenty of amazing things to capture with a camera as well – fishing (obviously), wildlife, scenery etc.

Don’t forget to pack plenty of sun protection – block out, long sleeved shirts etc. It’s also worth taking good quality insect protection. There are mosquitoes around in the evenings though the cabins have good quality insect screens to ensure a good night’s sleep.

The only other thing you will need (apart from your fishing gear) is your personal necessities such as medications, toiletries etc. Soap, linen and towels are provided.

In Conclusion…

This has to be one of the finest Barramundi adventures available in Australia and comes highly recommended. The fishing is extraordinary, due not only to the location but also the experience and knowledge of the lodge guides.

The accommodation is comfortable and easy. The dining is excellent, particularly the snacks served in the bar area prior to the evening meal. Overall the entire experience will almost certainly surpass all expectations.

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