Staaten River Fishing and Wilderness Lodge is a destination for serious anglers in pursuit of barramundi and saratoga, but the natural beauty of the surroundings and its amazing birdlife can prove equally arresting.

Story By Don Fuchs

It is a picture of serenity and beauty: flowering waterlilies cover the dark water of the billabong. Look closely and you’ll see native bees collecting pollen in the yellow core of the blooms. In the late afternoon, the sun loses its sting and the colours start to change into warmer hues. It is time to kick back and enjoy the calming splendour of this tropical oasis. But fishing guide Dean Watt won’t have any of it. He knows that beneath the tranquil, lily-clad surface, under submerged snags, lurk hungry monsters. Again and again he casts a white plastic frog, letting it hop across the leaves, skimming the surface. And then the water erupts. A golden flash, a brutal tug. The flexible rod bends, the line stretching tight like a violin string. But it is not, as hoped, a barramundi. After a short fight, Dean presents a large saratoga, its golden large-scaled skin decorated with little pink dots. After a quick photo of the catch, Dean gently puts the fish back into the water and releases it. “Generally, once people get a taste of the billabongs they don’t want to go back to the main river chasing barra,” Dean says. “They love the ’toga.”

This Story is from Issue #95

Outback Magazine: June/July 2014