Northern expedition
  |  First Published: December 2004

I haven’t contributed an article for some months now due to the lack of rain and fish activity. However, things have started to change – the weather has certainly warmed up, with the last few days in the high 30s and early 40s and some rain has fallen.

At the time of writing, the recent rains weren’t enough to significantly affect the river, but will green the countryside. The numbers of campers residing next to the bridge has dwindled, probably due to the hot days pushing people back to their air-conditioned homes.

There still hasn’t been a great deal of fishing done as the town is a hive of activity. The wheat harvest is in full swing and even the local tennis club has had to revise the competition as hardly any men are available. I’m sure this will all change in a few weeks though, and hopefully I’ll be able to report on some fish being caught.

Saltwater fishing has a special significance for local people. At the coast I used to take my fishing opportunities for granted but now I really look forward to fishing opportunities well in advance. The Surat Wallumbilla RedBulls football coach, Darren Fechner, just returned from a trip up north, that he had planned for well in advance, and here he shares his experiences.

September 18 to October 2, 2004

King Ash Bay is situated 50km outside Borroloola. Phil Dwyer and I, both of Roma, hadn’t visited King Ash Bay since 1999 and we could hardly wait for our fortnight fishing expedition to begin.

When we arrived I discovered that the small bush fishing club I remembered from 1999 had grown into a mini town, with mod cons such as a service station, mini mart and a lodge which sleeps up to eight fishermen in comfort, and which became our home for the next 10 days.

The weather was unusually cold for that time of year, and we didn’t have the fish actually jumping into our boat. On day three of our trip, Tom Hopkins, owner of King Ash Bay Lodge, gave us some welcome advice and a few hotspots in the river to fish that resulted in the capture of the elusive barramundi.

Over the next few days of fishing we landed a number of barramundi with sizes ranging from 66-85cm. The best fish headed back to camp with us and the rest were returned safely back to the river. All fish were caught trolling in about 3-4m of water at the mouth of most rivers on a outgoing tide. The lures that preformed best were shallow running lures such as Strike Zone, Crazy Mullet and (my favourite) a Gold Bomber. All lures were an assortment of colours with no real colour standing out.

The system itself offers around 600km of waterway to fish in, as well as a number of small islands situated just off the coastline that are all within easy reach for large tinnies.

I would like to thank Tom and Yvonne Hopkins of King Ash Bay Lodge for their helpful tips and for making us feel right at home, and I highly recommend their establishment for anyone planning a trip to the area.


1) Darryn Fechner of Roma with a hard-fighting barra from King Ash Bay.

2) Phil Dwyer with a King Ash Bay barramundi.

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