Sensational Sweers Island
  |  First Published: April 2003

SWEERS Island is in the lower Gulf of Carpentaria, north of Burketown, and commercial fishing around the island is banned.

Until recently, the only way to get to Sweers was by private or charter plane from Karumba and there nearly always were dramas getting to Karumba, whether by vehicle or variable connecting flights.

Things have changed. Bill Smith, of Direct Star Services, Townsville,. now offers direct flights to Sweers Island and a wide range of fly-in fly-out holiday destinations.

Ten minutes after landing, I hooked an extra-large cobia from the beach. Still not impressed? How about a triple hook-up on our first troll – two coral trout and a gold-spot cod?

That first session lasted roughly four hours with only around 50 metres of reef covered between hook-ups. Double hook-ups were so common we’d get excited only by the triples.

At the end of the day we had landed fingermark, coral trout, GTs, Spanish mackerel, queenfish, gold-spot cod, barracuda, and one lonely batfish. Tired and fished-out, we returned to the resort for a hot shower, a cold beer and a meal my vocabulary can’t do justice to – let’s just say brilliant.

After late finish and a night in the air-conditioning, an early start wasn’t high on our agenda. Anyhow, breakfast isn’t served until 8am and it’s definitely worth being around for the feeds.

Fully rejuvenated, we headed off for day two. We worked mostly rock bars and shallow reefs, casting our way along the coastline with the rising tide. We started out a little slowly with half-a-dozen gold-spot cod but then we hit a honey hole. My first six casts yielded fish, while all three of us were hooking up every second or third cast.

By lunchtime we really had our arms stretched by some tropical bruisers so it was back to the resort to refuel the boat and devour a delicious smorgasbord. We then headed out to what they call the Fifty-Foot Hole for a full-on bait-fishing session.

I have never been busted up so quickly or fiercely. Landing fish was rare because of their size and the bottom of this hole was like a cheese-grater.

The following day we headed out to some shallow reef on the other side of the island. Again, triple hook-ups were the order of the day. Everything seemed to come only in extra-large sizes and our arms just got sorer. It was a sombre trip back to the resort to catch our flight home.

I suggest you take a selection of shallow- and medium-running lures with a few deep runners to help cover as many options as possible. RMG Scorpions (90 and 120mm), DK Eyecons, Bounty Hunters and Koolabung Live Baits all proved popular. I suggest taking two outfits– one medium casting set-up (if you intend to throw lures) and a heavy troll/live bait rig.

This was my first trip to Sweers and after three days I can’t say I know the place inside out, however, one of the beauties of Direct Star Services is that for no extra cost, the pilot will also show you the best fishing spots so you are not wasting time covering areas with your sounder to locate the fish.

At Sweers you are treated like royalty. The boats – eight, 4.6-metre NQ cats – are pre-fueled and stocked with bait and basic tackle. They are decked out with all safety gear and sounders ride comfortably.

A maximum of 24 people stay on the island, so there is no fighting for the best spot. Although this is probably not the five-star resort the wife is after, the rooms are clean, comfortable, spacious and air-conditioned. They are serviced daily and the separate amenities block offers piping-hot showers. The open style bar/eating area looks over the water and the meals are delicious and in portions appropriate to anglers who have been slaving over bucking rods and screaming drags all day.

For more information phone Bill Smith of Direct Star Services on 1300 559 995, email --e-mail address hidden-- or visit www.directstar.com.au or Bill can - it’s well worth a visit!


John Coad caught this barra within 10 minutes of the boat hitting the water.


John was just about to cast his lure when a spotted cod took his hand line. He left the lure just in the water next to the boat – only to have this 5.7kg fingermark jump on it!

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