Access to the Adelaide river is 70 kilometres east of Darwin via the Stuart and Arnhem Highways. The river is easily accessed from a concrete boat ramp just upstream from the Adelaide River bridge. The river has many creek mouths that can be fished for barra during both the wet and the run-off. Upstream, around Goat Island, there are submerged rockbars that fish well through the dry on neap tides when the water is usually fairly clear. Around the river mouth, there is excellent fishing for jewfish, golden snapper and saltwater barra. Succulent mud crabs can also be taken from this area throughout most of the year guided barra fishing trips to the Adelaide River are available from Darwin, and there is bungalow accommodation on Goat Island, approximately 20 kilometres up the river from the Arnhem Highway boat ramp.
With several tidal and billabong barramundi fishing options, all less than two hours’ drive from darwin, the Mary River system has much to offer the visiting angler. For starters, the famous cCorroboree Billabong offers boat ramp launching into 45 kilometres of fishable water, and a range of native wildlife and aquatic birdlife as good as you’ll experience anywhere in the tropical top end.
Shady Camp provides boat access to vast mangrove-lined sections of sampan creek and Tommycut Creek. From February to May every year, very big barramundi are caught trolling at the mouths of both creeks, and also along the coast of the Van Diemen Gulf, wherever there is run-off into Chambers Bay.
On neap tides, boating a few kilometres offshore from the river mouth will place you in the vicinity of shallow reefs, which are home to schools of black jewfish. Tides are critical, and you need to time your departure and return with the top of the tide.
The tidal section of the Mary River, below the shady camp barrage, is closed to fishing from 1 October to 31 January and special rules apply to fishing within 100 metres of the barrage itself.
Accommodation in the Mary River area includes a lodge, bed and breakfast, budget hotel, caravan sites and camping areas. Houseboats and fishing dinghies are available for hire, and professional fishing guides operate for most of the year, including from motherships during the run-off.
Bathurst and Melville Islands, known as the Tiwi Islands, lie about 80 kilometres to the north of Darwin. There is some wonderful estuary fishing for barramundi, salmon and mangrove jack, and excellent bluewater fishing around the rocky headlands for queenfish, giant trevally, golden snapper
And black jewfish. Marlin and sailfish are caught in the areas known as the ‘bathurst trench’ to the north-west of Bathurst Island, afghan shoals south of Cape Fourcroy and around Shepparton Shoals to the west.
As with most aboriginal-owned land, access is not allowed without a permit. However, recognising the attraction of their waters for anglers, the Tiwi Land Council and local traditional landowners have established streamlined access and permit procedures. For further information, contact the Amateur Fishermen’s Association of the NT (AFANT) on 08 8945 6455 or visit www.afant.com.au
Accommodation options include lodge and safari tent accommodation, both with guided fishing. Travel is by light aircraft from Darwin. Darwin-based fishing guides and motherships with guided fishing also regularly visit the Tiwi Islands.