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Week 4: Staaten River Fishing & Wilderness Lodge by Andrew Ettingshausen

I headed up to Cape York to do some fishing & filming in the billabongs around the Staaten River Lodge. The set up there is fantastic, with great staff and guides to ensure you have a terrific time.

The quest was to catch a Saratoga over 80 cm, if you haven't seen these fish before, they are incredibly prehistoric looking with an up turned jaw that helps them feed on insects and frogs amongst the lily pads. They are a very aggressive fish that like to hunt both day and night.

We targeted the billabongs at dawn and dusk each day. This is when the Saratoga's predatory instincts are at their best and another reason was to escape the hottest part of the day, which got up to 36 degrees. Using plastic frogs as bait, small poppers and spinner baits, we caught and released many Saratoga as well as a few solid Barramundi over the few days. Most of the billabongs were a kilometer or two in length, which gave us plenty of shore, based fishing options.

Andrew Ettingshausen on a boat with friends at Staaten river Cape York

The idea was to cast plastic frogs amongst the lily pads and slowly twitch them back to shore. The great thing about using these frogs is that the hooks are designed to sit flush with the surface of the lure enabling them to be worked through the weed and lily pads without hooking up.

On impact, the hook is able to pin the fish in the corner of the mouth. We caught lots of Saratoga using this technique often hopping the frog up onto a lily pad before letting it fall off the edge to awaiting Saratoga who would strike aggressively at the lure.

Andrew Ettingshausen with a large Barramundi at Staaten River

Poppers were a little more difficult to use as you needed to cast into relatively clean patches of water. When this was possible, large barra up to 90cm and big Saratoga were tempted to strike.

This is electrifying fishing as you can see these big fish cruise up behind the popper and demolish it with a huge surface strike. The frogs are defiantly my favorite though, as I landed an 89cm & 91cm barra plus a 75cm Saratoga using this technique.

The Staaten River itself is famous for monster barramundi and the lodge has an incredible reputation for catching big fish. I am looking forward to heading back up there at the end of 2013, it was that good!



Andrew Ettingshausen with a large crab at Staaten River

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