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Escape Sportfishing Lodge Groote Eylandt

The escape sportfishing lodge is on groote eylandt in the northern territory. First class lodge and mothership facilities. Over 50 sportfish from marlin and sailfish to coral trout and barramundi.

Paradise awaits anglers and corporate groups …..
World class fishing in diverse and contrasting habitats ……tidal coastal creeks, mangrove-lined estuaries, and kilometres of coastline, islands and virtually unchartered waters.

Immerse yourself in an environment where change is the only constant and Barramundi, Sailfish, Marlin, Black Jewfish, Queenfish, Giant Trevally, Mangrove Jack, Red Emperor, Cobia, Coral Trout, Longtail Tuna, Threadfin Salmon, Golden Snapper are the everyday.

We love chasing Barramundi and each year metre plus fish are landed by our clients. When the warmer months arrive the chances of landing a Barra increase substantially. Barra get active from September till January then feed again heavily before the cooler winter months arrive. March April and May are referred to as the run off period where the flooded billabongs and catchments pour clean fresh water full of baitfish back into the Gulf. At these times casting shallow running lures like Bombers, Classics, Reidy’s and Halcos around the many smaller creeks and gutters see some large fish landed. The idea is to find patches of clean green water with lots of baitfish getting forced out in the current. Right on the edge where the dirty water mixes with the clean is a terrific ambush zone for Barra to feed in. Generally where there is bait you can be assured that Barra aren’t too far behind.

We are lucky at Groote because the adjacent mainland holds a lot of coastal reef, bommies and rock bars that all hold Barra at different stages of the tide. Sometimes fishing the Walker River is the best option but more often than not the Barra can be caught around the rocky headlands on the way in. We have had some great sessions hooking Barra up to the metre mark in less than a couple of feet of water in this rocky country. Their aerial acrobatics is what makes these fish such a trophy in the rivers and bays of the top end. It’s amazing how shallow the water can be, and still hold quality fish, sometimes the Barra can be seen rolling with their fins out of the water.

The Walker River has a large rock bar, a couple of creeks and a nicely defined gutter at it’s entrance. We have caught Barra at all of these locations and it is a matter of working out what stage of the tide works best at any given spot. Sometimes trolling is the perfect way to find a school of feeding fish. As the tide pushes in the Barra follow the clean water and hold at different points along the river. Sometimes it is as small as a one foot drop and there can be dozens of fish queuing up. At these times hooking up to one fish and marking the spot on your GPS can turn a quiet morning into an awesome session. We have caught fish over the metre mark along the Walker River gutters at the entrance to the river. Many of our larger fish come to clients while casting around the rock bars. A nice Barra of 112cm crunched a lure casting in just this way in early 08 and anglers can expect plenty of these in 09.

We decided in early 2008 that if we are to become one of the best Sportfishing Lodges then we would need to travel all over this remote gulf region. To target the biggest Barra would mean a 100km trip south east of Groote Eylandt to the massive Roper River system. We looked at our options and decided that a mother ship vessel that could sleep 6 to 8 guests would be needed to achieve our goal. New to our fleet in 2009 is our 50 foot live aboard “Escapade”. Now we can travel around Groote Eylandt and visit the Roper River, Towns River, Rose River and Limmen Bight System in style, making sure our clients have the opportunity to chase Big Barra in these rich waters. Escapade will also enable us to fish the Walker River and Koolatong River closer to home, but allow for easy access with a comfortable bed right where the fish are. We will be operating these trips to co inside with the run off period of April and May 09 so jump aboard with some mates and enjoy the amazing action as we moor Escapade right in Barra heaven.

Popper Fishing :
We are fortunate at Groote Eylandt to have so many great sportfish to chase and there is no better way than luring them with poppers. The visual strikes are what excite the anglers who travel from all parts of the world to chase Longtail Tuna, Giant Trevally, Queenfish, Spanish Mackerel, Coral Trout and around the rivers and headlands the mighty Barramundi.

In the saltwater most fishing is done around bait balls, reef ledges and sand spits. Poppers are designed to float on the surface and usually have a cup face with allows for a splashing or “bloop” when the lure is pulled forward. It’s this “bloop” which excites the predators as the wounded baitfish crawls its way across the top of the water. Big predators like the easy chance of a feed and crunch the popper in a visual explosion. This visual strike is what keeps anglers casting these floating chunks of timber with swaying hooks for hours. The technique varies only slightly with a slower bloop exciting fish sometimes more than a constant faster bloop of the popper. Once the technique and casting is down pat, then hooking up to some quality sportfish is a real chance.

These days we like to use our longer more powerful Shimano T-Curve Combos to shoot the poppers out over the feeding zone. We generally use 30lb braid with a 50 to 80lb trace unless some big Giant Trevally are a chance and we then up our tackle to 50lb braid. The lures we use are a mixture of brands with Halco Roosta Poppers a handy all rounder for this type of fishing. We like to run a single Gamakatsu hook at the rear with twin singles in the middle for a better hook up rate and easier removal from the fish.

Barramundi are another ambush predator that can be caught on popper. Often feeding on Mullet and Garfish up on the surface a Barra will lay in ambush to quickly inhale any stray baitfish. Early morning and late afternoon are peak times for this type of fishing. Barra just can’t resist a slowly popped lure, sometimes following the popper out and sitting poised just below before a gentle twitch from the angler sees the popper disappear in an explosion of white water. On clear water days Barra can be seen stalking the lure before striking, while in dirtier water Barra often strike several times before finally hooking up. All exciting fishing.
Reef Fishing :
Reef fishing hot spots around Groote Eylandt offer anglers the chance to do battle with a large variety of hard fighting species. The beautiful “red fish” like Coral Trout, Red Emperor, Large Mouth Nannygai, Mangrove Jack and Fingermark “Golden Snapper” are found in large numbers around the many islands and reef systems that surround Groote. Mixed in with Black Jewfish, Spangled and Long nose Emperor, Parrot fish, Chinamen, and Cod are a host of Trevally, Cobia, Queenfish, and Mackerel. Everything ends up in the mix as a feeding frenzy brings in predators of all sizes. There are too many awesome looking spots to try, but generally our Lowrance sounder shows up the bait schools and when active predators can be seen around these, it’s time to drop the pick.

In the winter months when the South Easterly winds dominate, we fish the northern protected bays and reef systems. Most of the time we will start jigging at a spot until the bite gets a little quite and then we bait up with Tuna chunks and get ready to hang on tight. The reef fish hit hard and bolt straight for the structure so if you’re not concentrating either your bait will be gone or your entire rig literally reefed. When fish like Coral Trout or Red Emperor are boated we often keep one for the plate but as we are a Sportfishing operation we aim to put as many fish back in a healthy condition as possible. The quality fish we keep are prepared and cooked up at the end of the day back at the Lodge. “Sensational” !!

Often when the reefies are feeding a berley slick is created down deep. This is when other hard fighting fish like Trevally turn up. It could be a school of Giant Trevally, Golden Trevally or Gold Spot Trevally or even Black Trevally or several other species of these hard fighting fish. Mackerel hit your baits on the drop and before long you have to swap over to a small wire trace just to get your rigs back in one piece. At times triple hook ups on Macks send the boat into chaos as the fish make line burning runs. Anglers need to cross over just to stop the tangles. If sharks enter the fray it is time to move on, as while it’s sometimes exciting to do battle with a 6 foot Whaler they sure make a mess of every other species caught.

There are loads of species to battle on a reef fishing session and you never know what may hit next. One thing for sure is that if the fish are on the bite you will have sore arms from pulling in all the fish.

In the warmer months we often make the trip down south to fish the reef structures that dot this remote section of coastline. The fishing here can be sensational with the chance to combine the many options this area has to offer in one day. You can mix up your bottom fishing by chasing Tuna, Mackerel, Sailfish and Black Marlin all within a few minutes from your reef fishing spot. Each of our 8 metre Sportfishing boats carry a multitude of rods all rigged up for a quick change. A couple of hours trolling around bait balls at the Southern end of the Island can have anglers hooked up for some terrific Billfish action. A couple of hours later you can be back on the reef getting your arms stretched by some reef crunching beasties.

Our guides are happy to look after your rigs and can teach you how to rig up yourself, tie knots and bait up if you’re keen to learn. We have all the gear ready to use on board so you don’t miss out. Reef fishing is a great way to hook up to some terrific eating and tough fighting species and there is always something to catch and somewhere to fish around Groote Eylandt and it’s coral reef systems.

Fly Fishing :
If you want to rack up a huge list of species Groote Eylandt and the surrounding archipelago gives fly fishers the chance.

From Black Marlin, Sailfish, Cobia, Longtail Tuna and Spanish Mackerel to Milkfish, Giant Herring and Barramundi, we have a huge variety of saltwater fish to target. We have terrific surface action as Tuna, Queenfish, Giant Trevally and Mackerel cut their way through bait balls. At different times of the year the bait balls are so numerous they cover the water in every direction. When the predators are rounding the bait in tight packs, every retrieve is followed or crunched. The crystal water provides anglers with the thrill of seeing predators crash baitfish imitations in clear view. There are coral bombies everywhere with plenty of reef fish available throughout all levels of the water column. Coral Trout will rise to poppers cast across the tops of many of the reef drop offs. Down deeper Red, Spangled and Longnose Emperor along with Parrot fish, Chinamen, Mangrove Jack, Golden Snapper and a multitude of other reef dwellers will give skilful fly fishers a terrific battle.

We have experienced fly fishing guides on hand to put you on to the fish. It is extremely important to have guides who have a great understanding of tides, currents, wind and boat position so as to maximise your chances of landing your target species. Our boats have been designed to cater for fly fishing with cast decks raised to give anglers a better chance to see the fish. At times the opportunity to walk the beach offers anglers a better platform to chase cruising species like Queenfish and Trevally.

We are discovering more areas all the time as we get the chance to wander further from home base. With the new addition of our 50 foot live aboard “ Escapade” fly fishers will have the opportunity to fish areas untouched. The Island is so big that it is impossible to get to many of the quality reefs, flats and bays we know exist in one day. With the opportunity of sleeping 8 guests overnight, heading to these remote fishing grounds will no doubt see us tallying other special species to our impressive list. The hunt is on for Bonefish and Permit and 2009 could be the year as we head to the North East and Eastern side of the Island on board Escapade. Grab some mates and join in the fun.

SPECIALIZED FLY FISHING GUIDE Christopher Bassano joins our Escape Sportfishing Team Full time from April 09. Chris has spent years travelling the world chasing both salt and freshwater species in the USA and Europe. Chris runs his own Rainbow Lodge in Tasmania and his aim is to explore Groote Eylandt and open up new grounds for our fly fishing guests. His experience will add a new dimension to our Fly fishery, and we look forward to offering his unique guiding experience to our Sportfishing operation.

Light Tackle Game :
TThe warm currents swirl around Groote Eylandt pushing between the many smaller Islands that dot the archipelago. These currents play a major role in determining when and what pelagics are available to anglers and fortunately some of the bigger species are always present. Longtail Tuna (Northern Bluefin), Spanish Mackerel, Black Marlin and Sailfish are the four key wanders of the sea that we target. We have caught many Black Marlin up to 100kg with most between 30 and 60 kilo. At times bigger fish pushing closer to 180 kilo (400lb) crash tackle our smaller outfits and after long battles wear through the line.

We generally carry a larger outfit for these occasions but as is usually the case the small pink Squid gets nailed every time. Time is not too far away though before a bigger fish stays stuck. Black Marlin have been caught within a mile of the Lodge at times. Often when sought with a spread of pushers and at other times on minnow lures while chasing Mackerel. The currents on the northern end of Groote push hard between the islands and the two passages between Connection and Bickerton Islands are the perfect spot to target Billfish. The deep channels cut paths which funnel the baitfish and when the blue water rushes up over the many reefs, eddies are created making great feeding zones for large predators. Islands and steep reefs create further pressure points which allow the Marlin to swim and hunt without effort.

On the Southern end of Groote Eylandt the blue water curves around the point bringing with it a wall of bait fish that encourage the Black Marlin and Sailfish to patrol the shallower water. Most fishing is done in under 25 metres of water and when the large schools of bait hit the point you can count on Sails and Blacks to be right on their tails. The great thing about this type of fishing is that you are nearly always fishing in close to the Island and the seas are extremely kind compared to the eastern states of Australia. In fact the swell is determined by the strength and consistency of the wind, so winds up to 15 knots mean relatively calm water. You get very spoilt fishing for Billfish around Groote Eylandt as even in 20 knots most areas can be fished easily.

The peak season is from September until April with the warmer water bringing in many baitfish for these big predators to feed on. Each year the Groote Eylandt Game Fishing Club holds its annual IGFA competition in late Oct/ Nov with great catches of Black Marlin Sailfish, Spanish Mackerel and Longtail Tuna. Escape Sportfishing Lodge plays an active role in this event and encourages visiting clients to join in the fun of this three day tournament.

A trip to our lodge may mean that you concentrate a few hours or a few days on these species but everyone can testify that when hooked up there is nothing to match a Billfish. We use a variety of techniques to catch our fish including switch baiting and trolling skirted lures. Switch baiting is an exciting way to fish as the vessel tows a series of teasers and hookless squid skirts about awaiting the enquiry of a Billfish. Once the fish is seen darting from lure to lure a rigged fresh mullet or garfish is tossed back in the spread while the hookless lures are removed quickly. Looking for a feed and excited by the commotion of the teasers the Marlin or Sailfish usually pounce on the dead bait and the switch is made. The hooked fish is now in the hands of the angler and if the fish is brought to the boat in good condition a simple lift on board for a few snap shots can be made.

The more conventional way of towing skirted lures in a pattern behind the boat also works well. This technique will also catch Spanish Mackerel, Longtail Tuna as well as the bigger billfish and has accounted for thousands of catches across the globe. Both techniques work well and can be employed easily by our professional guides.

There is nothing like cruising up to a mass of bait and seeing three Sailfish peel off to the sides before rising up in your lure spread. Double and even triple hook ups are a real chance, and then it’s up to the angler’s skill to battle the fish to the boat. Double figure days of fish hooked and lost are truly possible, and the sight of these magnificent animals is one to behold.

Jig Fishing :
JJigging with chrome lures is an exciting way to catch many of the species that live around Groote Eylandt. There are a few different ways to target fish with Jigs but all require the angler to impart an erratic action on the jig. High speed winding is one of the simplest ways of catching Mackerel, Trevally, Cobia, Queenfish and Tuna. If the intention is to fish straight under the boat, then the idea is to drop the jig down to where the Lowrance sounder has picked up some baitfish schools with some bigger shapes shadowing them, and crank the jig back to the boat. Most Jigs are designed with odd dips and wavy edges so that when retrieved the lure will have a natural sway. This is often enough movement for predator fish to get excited and chase the chrome lure that resembles a fleeing baitfish. The strike will be jarring as the big predator nails your lure. Blistering runs generally only stop once you have fought the fish for at least 5 minutes on the heavy gear and longer if the line is under 20lb.

If your lure was bounced closer to the bottom reef fish like Coral Trout, Spangled Emperor, Red Emperor, Mangrove Jack, Golden Snapper and parrot fish will test your drag and skill as they rush for home amongst the Coral. If your too slow to get the line back on the spool then more often than not your lure will limp back to the boat without your prized catch. We do a lot of bottom fishing for quality reefies using chrome jigs. Generally if there are Mackerel about we like to run a 10cm length of wire on top of the jig to ensure we don’t get cut off too regularly. Jigs from 30 grams can be very effective around Groote Eylandt and when the fish are on the chew you can just run a sinker and hook as your jig rig, wind fast and hang on.

Throughout the year large schools of Longtail Tuna, Queenfish, Mackerel and Trevally turn the millions of baitfish into what is known as bait balls. These compressed fish look like a rippling black mass in the water as the big predators stalk there every move cutting through at will for an easy feed. We love to come across these as we know the action is about to commence. Anglers use some of our Shimano Spin combo’s and stand ready with their jig loaded until the guide position’s the boat and gives the go ahead to let the chromies fly. Chaos is what usually occurs as the lures are wound back to the boat at pace with a big predator right on its tail. The idea is to not slow down your retrieve, but crank the lure back fast through the bait ball all the way back to the boat. This way the predator only sees a fleeing slither of silver resembling the baitfish and not a hard unnatural chrome piece of metal. This sight fishing is some of the most exciting fishing that you will ever do. Anglers travel from all over the world to get some of this mind blowing action. With four anglers on board we can rack up over 50 fish in a morning session with many more lost.

Jigging is extremely exciting when everything is going well and yet often the simple action of dropping a jig amongst some baitfish found on the sounder is enough to get cruising fish into a feeding frenzy. We have caught Spanish Mackerel to 30 kilo and Giant Trevally heading towards 20 kilo using chrome lures and when the jig fishing is on, this style of fishing is red hot.
The Lodge:

Located on the northwest side of the Island , Escape Sportfishing & Wilderness Lodge will provide guests with a unique, remote experience with excellent facilities and unforgettable fishing.

The central lounge area is the perfect place to enjoy a drink, share fishing stories or view a slide show of the day's events.

The spacious deck has been designed to showcase this beautiful pristine environment and provides guests with uninterrupted views extending across the beach to nearby Connexion Island and beyond. Sit and enjoy the spectacular sunsets after a memorable day of fishing.

The Lodge can accommodate up to 24 guests in twin or double share accommodation.

The safari style Lodge accommodation is raised, ensuring minimal impact on the environment, fully air-conditioned with ensuite facilities, mini bar fridge and tea and coffee making facilities. Each room boasts a private deck area with stunning water views.

All meals and light refreshments are included in your package. Lunch, morning tea and light refreshments will be supplied on the boat each day. Full buffet breakfast and a-la-carte dinner will be enjoyed in the restaurant at Dugong Beach Resort.

Guests will be able to choose meals from a set menu with the option of additional choices (charges will apply). Alcoholic beverages can be purchased from the Dugong Beach Resort Bar. The island has a strict alcohol policy and guests will not be allowed to bring their own alcoholic beverages.

Please advise us of any special dietary requirements or medical conditions

Dugong Beach Resort offers a relaxed tropical atmosphere with many styles of accommodation including Executive Beach Bungalows, Deluxe Beach Bungalows and Business Suites.

Accommodation is located close to the beach, providing guests with breathtaking views. The Resort facilities will be available to all guests of the Sportfishing Lodge and include restaurant with licensed bar, swimming pool, business centre, conference room and cultural centre. Half day fishing charters are available to Resort guests.

Groote Eylandt has a well maintained 9 hole golf course that can be used by guests of both the Lodge and the Resort during their stay.

Golf clubs will be available for hire and a small fee will apply.

Escape Sportfishing Lodge Groote Eylandt
1 Bouganvillia Drive
Alyangula Northern Territory 0800

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