Mackerel excitement off Groote Eylandt. Picture: David Lems
Mackerel excitement off Groote Eylandt. Picture: David Lems

Explosive and unexpected fishing, just no barra this trip

ALL I wanted to catch was a big-eyed, brazen barramundi - my first.

But in a bizarre twist of fate, I landed just about everything else except three angry sharks chomping into my mighty mackerel trying to escape.

It was a fishing outing that offered so much and exceeded my every expectation.

Except not landing that prize barramundi.

The idyllic location was Groote Eylandt - a haven for crocodiles on the water's edge and a fishing mecca for those wanting an open ocean adventure.

Yet the big hope at the start of the expedition was to hook, land and release a monster barra.

It simply didn't happen.

But it was mainly my fault.

I was offered two choices - head around the island mangroves in search of a barra or enjoy a full day of open water fishing with limitless options.

Being an angler eager to chase different species, I made the call to forget about barramundi and see what the untouched Gulf of Carpentaria waters, off Darwin, served up.

From the first cast to the final explosive feeding frenzy, I knew I made the right decision.

Every spot my experienced fishing guide stopped at or we trolled through yielded quality fish.

From queenfish and tuna schooling on the surface to monster trevally and mackerel smashing lures, it was a fishing paradise in every sense.

I can still visualise the strikes as I cast out and wound in as fast as I could.

It was as if the fish were fighting for their final meal. It was a frenzy of excitement, especially from the mackerel.

UFO SIGHTING: Watch out for strange events in the night

MYSTERY ENCOUNTER: The 'shark' was just at my feet

FLYING DANGERS: Watch those 'mini missiles' coming back at you

Mackerel frenzy off Groote Eylandt
Mackerel frenzy off Groote Eylandt

Lures returned without a fish often carried teeth marks of huge predators checking out what was dragged across the surface.

The bottom bashing when it was time to drift for a while was just as productive.

The diversity of fish reeled up to the surface was amazing.

My catch was an assortment of reef fish including a prized coral trout, a variety of cods, moses perch, parrot fish and spangled emperor.

I counted more than 14 species while working a productive offshore shoal.

All fish were released except a coral trout put on ice to take back to the resort for an evening meal.

Coral trout treat for evening feast
Coral trout treat for evening feast

After enjoying the session jigging, it was time for more mackerel hunting.

It was mid afternoon and the bigger fish were on the prowl.

One of the highlights was hooking a beauty which leapt spectacularly out of the water.

It quickly became apparent why.

Three sharks were chasing the hooked fish and devoured it before I had any hope of getting it to the boat.

No chance of catch and release with this fish.

The ocean's apex predators had a hearty meal as I watched in amazement.

Mackerel release before the sharks got angry. Picture: David Lems
Mackerel release before the sharks got angry. Picture: David Lems

Heading back to shore provided time to reflect on what it was like being in the middle of nowhere, looking towards Papua New Guinea. It was captivating and exceptional fishing.

And to put the proverbial icing on my yummy coral trout, the other group chasing barramundi bombed out.

No barra this trip. Just a fishing expedition I will never forget.

This article is part of a Fishy Tales series focusing on unusual experiences and adventures.