Hooked up

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

Sunday Territorian - - FISHING & HUNTING -

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

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