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Dhipirri Dreaming

2018 Wilson Fishing Retailer's Trip

By Stephen Booth

It's one of those moments that lives with you for a long time. That moment the boss walks up and says "You're going to Dhipirri on Monday" - and this was the Thursday before!

Super lucky for myself and Clint, but unlucky for the clients, big boss Willy and Carol had to pull out of the trip at the last minute and we got the call up. Talk about a dream being rammed down your throat, and I was chewing off big chunks of the dream as fast as I could.

The crew for the trip included Troy Dixon, Clint Fannin and myself from head office, Andrew Elworthy from Tackle World Mackay, George Voukolos from Fishing and Outdoor World in Darwin, Steve Pill from Barra Jacks in Rockhampton, Adam Meredith from The Tackle Warehouse in Coorparoo, Vanessa Bennett from Lake Mulwala Fish, Camp and Ski in Mulwala, Brett Hyde from Ballina Bait and Tackle in Ballina and Ben Shorten from Tackle World Bundaberg.

We had four days of fishing and two days of travel ahead of us and every single person was a little excited.

From Brisbane, Dhipirri Barra and Sportsfishing Lodge is easy to reach, but co-ordinating all the flights was complex. There are three flights needed, the first from Brisbane to Cairns with Qantas, the next from Cairns to Gove with Air North and then a private charter flight from Gove to Dhipirri. For a somewhat soft stomached human like me, this up and down all day had me especially happy once we touched down on the dirt at Dhipirri.

As you arrive at the Lodge you are greeted by the wonderful team of guides and hosts who will make your stay everything you ever dreamed a wilderness camp in the NT would be.

But really, all anyone ever wanted to do was scoff down dinner, have a beer and get ready for day one!

First Day Bonanza

Day one saw the crew split between four boats. Two boats headed out to Milingimbi and two boats headed offshore for a spot of reef fishing followed up by some barra action in the Hutchison Straight.

The Millingimbi boats had a day out with one of the crews boating over 100 barra for the day up to 80cm and the other boat not that far behind! Now that is elite fishing in anyone's language.

Over towards Hutchy the reef fishing was a little slow but a few surprises like a black spot tuskfish and some coral trout had everyone excited, followed up with each boat in amongst 20-plus barra.

Highlights included two barra on one lure, the FB coloured 95mm Fish Trap, the domination of the 4.5" and 5" Zerek Flat Shads and triple and double hook ups up at Millingimbi on barra!

Day Two Brilliance

Day two saw a similar pattern with two boats headed up to Milly and two boats heading offshore and then again into the Hutchy.

The Milly crews battled each other for the title with each boat scoring around 70 barra for the day! The Hutchy crews had some exceptional fishing as well with both boats landing around 50 fish for the day.

Highlights of this day included one of my best fishing moments as Brett Hyde and I sight fished and landed over 20 barra in an hour in very shallow water that was pocked with baby mangroves. It was awesome watching the barra cruise into a baby mangrove, then you cast over the mangrove and jiggled the weedless Flat Shad through the mangrove to have the barra explode all over the lure. If the barra missed, it would follow the lure, repeatedly smacking it until it found the hook. It was epic fun and the best moments of the trip for me.

Day Three Reef Goes Nuts

Day three was a short day due to the tides messing with launch and retrieve times of the boats and that meant that the tides were ideal for reef fishing and the guides took full advantage of this.

I was lucky enough to have the day with Dhipirri's owner Darren and we had a mission to collect some mudcrabs and search out some of the tiniest of drains to see how far up a boat could push. It was a spectacular day for me as I love doing all the other stuff that goes along with being up north - in fact the best full day I had on the trip and we caught bugger all fish. We did catch lots and lots of crabs for the seafood feast and had a blast checking out those tiny gutters, sight fishing barra in real tight to all sorts of nasty, nasty structure.

But the reef fishers had a day out. Adam Meredith and Brett Hyde nailed over 70 fingermark (golden snapper) up to a very impressive 70cm on the Zerek Fish Trap 95. As Adam described it, it was one of the most amazing sessions he'd ever had. The best colours were the fabled Fat Betty and the much loved Flying Bear - two colours that were working on just about anything with fins this trip.

Day Four Shut The Door

The last day of any trip is a bitter sweet moment. You know the end is near but you know what's waiting in the creeks and on the reefs.

My last day had us steaming up towards the fingermark reef and, after a little bit of hunting, we found plenty of fingermark in the shallow reefs - some as shallow as 8 feet!

We ended up catching and releasing about 20 fingermark before a bunch of big trevally moved in and started stretching us out. Everyone had a shot at wearing themselves out but it was Andrew from Tackle World Mackay who mastered the trevs, continually hooking and landing them!

All the other boats had a little time on various reefs with coral trout, fingermark, trevally of many species and all sorts of cod and other ooglies making for some real entertainment on Live Flash Minnow Wrigglies and Fish Traps. It was a very entertaining way to sign off on a magical part of the world.

A Beast of a Feast

The last night's dinner was a special occasion with all the very best fish and a heap of mud crabs cooked in the most delicious ways possible. Whole deep-fried coral trout, meringue salt encrusted tusky, garlic and lemon fingermark, mud crab three ways, oh yeah and some salad I didn't even look at, combined with a picture-perfect setting looking out over the water as the sun set - what a way to finish!


Fact Box

Dhipirri Barra And Sportsfishing Lodge

Mobile: 0418 847 867

 Fax: +61 8 89 833 744



Fact Box

The Lures

Zerek Tango Shad 120

Used for trolling the blue water and creeks. Very effective offshore on queenfish and very good in the creeks when the depth and tide permitted their use.

Zerek Tango Shad 89

A great lure for snag bashing in the creeks and on the flats, this lure accounted for plenty of barra over the course of the four days.

Zerek Flat Shad 4.5" and 5"

It was almost impossible to separate these two lures as both dominated the barra catches. Cast into drains, into snags or into the baby mangroves the barra simply belted these lures all day, every day.

Zerek Fish Trap 95

The most popular Fish Trap on the market went beast mode in the creeks taking multiple barra on the one lure on three occasions. On the reef, this little gem was unstoppable racking up so many fish it was scary!

Zerek Live Flash Minnow Wriggly

Rigged on a Mustad Darter jighead, the Live Flash Minnow Wriggly in 130mm size was dynamite on the oddities. This lure bought in the coral trout and tuskies and just got hammered by the trevally and mackerel on the cast.


Fact Box

The Rods

Venom Crank Bait Spin

The spin rods were used for all of the offshore work including reef bashing and trolling. These rods were durable, tough and had enough grunt to make things happen when they needed to.

Venom 6kg Baitcaster

Probably the most commonly used rod up north, the 6kg Venom Baitcaster can throw light and heavy lures and work them easily in amongst the mangrove snags. At 5'9" they are ideal for punching casts back into the snags and tough enough to get the fish out when they smash the lure.

Bone Voyage 704XXH

This was my favourite rod on the trip as it had the ability to cast long distances accurately and enough power to dictate terms to all fish I hooked. I loved the extra length and the slightly softer tip as it allowed for bow and arrow casting and underhand casting from the back of the boat.


Top 5 highlights

My Top 5 moments at Dhipirri were:

1. Sight fishing barra in the small mangroves.

We cast 4.5" and 5" weedless rigged Zerek Flat Shads to sighted fish in amongst the baby mangroves. The water depth was about a metre and the tide was falling. It was amazing watching the fish react to your lures and they were easy to see once you had cued into what you had to look for. That one hour of my life will stay with me forever and I am sure Bretty Hyde thinks the same - it was sensational.

2. Super dirty drain fishing.

On Day 2 we had an hour to go before heading back to the ramp and needed to have a last blast. Guide Chris suggested we hit a particular drain on the run up. This drain was pathetically dirty but filled with mullet and, as it turned out, barra and blue salmon. Just about every cast with the Flat Shad got belted, sometimes multiple times and we racked up another 20 fish in an hour-long session in water a good farmer would probably grow a crop in. It was magic.

3. Mud Crabbing with the Boss

The day with Darren was wonderful for any number of reasons but I have never seen mud crabbing anything like it was at Dhipirri. Every pot had crabs in it and they were all big and full. It's hard to explain the anticipation of pulling up a pot for those who have never done it, but I can easily say that this session has destroyed any mud crab fishing I'll be doing around home for a few months.

4. Big Tusky

The highlight fish for me was on day one when we were fishing the reef and I hooked a better than average fish. After a short but torrid fight, a big blackspot tusk fish came up and we were all pretty excited. To top off the capture, the tusky was turned into one of the tastiest fish meals I have had on the last night, putting a massive exclamation mark on the tusky capture.

5. The Crew

It felt a lot like home and the reason for that was that all of the staff tried their absolute best to make sure you had the time of your life. From the meals to the rooms, from the guides to the Hostess Angie, everyone went about their jobs of making our stay memorable. And that's what makes a good trip even better and all the more memorable.

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