Northern Saratoga

If you are anything like me, and I’m going to go ahead and assume that most people on here are, you will have been dreaming of Kakadu in the same way that I have been. Ever since I was a child, I have dreamed of getting to Kakadu. A place where the fish are fabled to be so large and numerous that it was almost inexhaustible and the fishing was considered ‘easy’.The landscapes so unique and palatial that it has become the heartland of Australia’s tourism industry. The red centre meets the blue lagoon with the concept of an oasis in the desert. image I’m sorry to say that I have been a little underwhelmed. Whilst there is no doubting the beauty to behold within the national park and certainly the fishing is something that everyone should make sure they get out and experience. My main concern is that there seems to be a definite lacking in ‘adventure’. Whilst everyone should get the opportunity to get into Kakadu, the infrastructure to make the park accessible has also been its curse. If its a genuine adventure you’re looking for-don’t bother because aside from the regular croc sightings, there is little to raise the blood pressure but high prices. As baby boomers retire and retire vastly wealthier than there parents at that, caravanning is the greatest craze in Australia. Combined with backpackers, there is a huge tourism trade into the park that is considered Australia’s last frontier. Just from my observations, kids are spending less time outside of the caravans, everyone looses their mind if they don’t have 3G and people are certainly less inclined to get in, get dirty and truly experience what it is to have such incomparable adventures at our doorstep. Don’t have a 4WD? No problem. So much of the park is bitumen that you could access the larger part of it on a ride on lawnmower. Where is the adventure if you dont get bogged? Where is the character building funny story if you didnt have to go without a shower for a week? Even caravan parks have fuel in Kakadu! Having noted my disapointment, there is plenty to see in Kakadu which is unlike so much of the rest of Australia. image Gin clear swimming holes bored into some of the oldest rocks in the world, water falls and huge numbers of native fauna are all easy to come across in Kakadu. IMG_3003 It is to its credit still very much natural with very few commercial operators and firm but fair national park regulations with the honesty box system in my eyes a great success. In any case I have been very lucky to get tee’d up with some local fisho’s who have been able to put me onto some firsts, PB’s and all together awesome fish. I have wanted to catch a Sclerepages Jardini (Northern Saratoga) since I was a kid. I managed to sight fish this fella from in-between some niper palms. You can distinguish the northern and southern varieties by the elliptical pink spots on each scale of the northern variety. This pattern is unique only to Australian Arowanas as far as I’m aware. IMG_3012 I also was lucky enough to spot this like 620mm barra poking his nose out from under a lillie. A 30 foot roll cast with a home tied pink thing and I was on to my first Barra on fly. IMG_5532 These fish are a popular sports fish for a reason. They live in a wide spread distribution and often in some stunningly beautiful places. Sooties attack with aggression and fight as hard as any on light gear. IMG_2753 All in all. Despite my disappointment and perhaps premature excitement in my first visit to Kakadu which had me not unlike a dog out the window of the car, breaking the land speed record and letting my senses run a muck with the pleasure of it all-Its not a bad way to spend a Wednesday… IMG_2960