Whether you’re trolling for a big barra on the Daly, flicking a plastic into the lilies on a Kakadu billabong, or c chasing macs on the blue water, we’ve got you covered
What is a safe boat size for Top End waters? That was being asked after an accident at the Adelaide River mouth’s Saltwater Arm last Tuesday in which a man drowned.
Two men were crabbing when their boat capsized. As I write it is unclear whether a crocodile actually capsized the boat, or whether it capsized for some other reason.
A picture of the boat showed a 3.25m punt containing a high chair and large eskie.
Two men sitting high in such a small boat would create a potentially unstable situation.
Any sudden movement that caused the men to slide to one side could tip the boat.
Saltwater Arm is sheltered water and a place where you could expect to use a small boat safely if it wasn’t for the presence of “welltrained” crocodiles.
By trained, I mean crocodiles that steal baits from crab pots almost as soon as they hit the bottom.
These crocodiles associate boats and crab pots with food, and they make life hard when crabbing.
It has been this way at Saltwater Arm for years, and I suspect crocodiles in other heavily crabbed areas behave much the same way.
The incident has stirred up plenty of comment, not least because the survivor had to fend off crocodile(s) until he could be rescued.
Every time there is a crocodile incident in the Top End there are inevitable calls for culls and the like.
Incidents of this kind are not a good look for the NT. If this latest one was caused by a crocodile, it will be time the NT Government started becoming more aggressive with its crocodile management.
Fresh in our minds is the death of Bill Scott, who was pulled from his boat in Kakadu National Park.
Large, aggressive crocodiles have been noted in online posts recently at the popular Daly River.
Crocodile education for visiting tourists and NT newbies is essential, but it can only do so much.
It may well be time to manage crocodiles more aggressively. And it may also be time to stipulate, or at least recommend, a minimum boat size for certain high-risk waters.
Either that, or have an overall minimum boat size for NT waters, with exceptions for waters that are reasonably safe, for example Darwin Harbour and Manton Dam.
Big crocodiles are now numerous and bold, and in many cases trained to associate fishos with food.
Either reduce their numbers in popular waters, or expect more incidents like this.
In reports, Fishing and Outdoor World’s Ronald Voukolos said the barra came on at the beginning of the NT Barramundi Classic on the Daly River.
“They caught some big fish early on, including meteries, during the pre fish,” he said. “There have been very few reports from the Adelaide River, both upstream or downstream at the Wilshires.
“There have been great barra reports from Bynoe Harbour on the flats during the neap tides. There has been plenty happening at Lee Point with mostly broadbar mackerel and queenfish.
“Shady Camp barrage has been producing smaller barra, a lot of undersized fish with the occasional keeper. Shoal Bay has also produced some nice barra.
“I have not heard of any big spaniards being caught locally, but there have been plenty at Dundee. I am also not hearing much about tuna around Darwin.
“There was a good jewfish report from Cape Hotham and Ruby Island, but there have not been many big jewies reported from the harbour.”
Tackle World Coolalinga’s Pat Tait said Shoal Bay had been producing barra.
“Some of our charter boat crew were flicking the sandbank at Buffalo Creek and getting a few barra,” he said.
“Over King Creek way the neap tides produced barra to about 87cm. “There are also a few crabs moving around. “Bynoe Harbour has been good for crabs lately, it is not true there are no crabs.
“There have also been some good threadies in Bynoe, but there is only a small window of opportunity to get them — they only bite for half an hour on the low tide on the flats.
“Small soft plastics have been getting them, small prawn imitations.
“The charter boats have been doing well on snapper and jewies. They filled up on goodsized red emperor and nannygai by fishing a little wider of Charles Point than usual.
“The reds are out there off Darwin, you just have to find them.
“A young fella caught a tuna off Mandorah Jetty, and there have been schools of them at Six Mile Buoy this week.”
Craig’s Fishing Warehouse’s Mal Strong said the freshwater Finniss River was
James Lim and Allan Beale (owner Darwin's Barra Base) with a 112cm barra caught in the Finniss River