Col and I were invited to go fishing at Shady Camp with KD, Col’s Boss, and Hal who is a work colleague of Col’s. We took the boat and swung past Hal’s house to pick up KD and Hal and then do the two and a half hour drive to Shady Camp.
After my traumatic experience at Dundee Beach backing the boat down the ramp (or not backing it down the ramp), I was determined to get some practice before being put in that sort of situation again. So I volunteered to back the boat down the ramp as there were not many people around that day. Keep in mind though that Shady Camp has the highest concentration of Salt Water Crocs anywhere in Australia! So I was a little nervous getting into the boat. Hal waited with me in case I needed any help, but it all went pretty smoothly and I backed the boat down the ramp on my own without any issues. I was the only one on the ramp though which helps. Hal and I then quickly scrambled into the boat without getting eaten by a Croc and we headed off to explore the Mary River with the hope of catching some big Barra. This is actually a bucket list item for Col. Shady Camp is an iconic Australian Fishing spot, and catching a big Barra is the icing on the cake.
We set up the rods for trawling and slowly made our way down the river. It was not long before the first rod started jumping and Col grabbed it to reel it in. Not a Barra, but a beautiful Threadfin Salmon surprisingly. Apparently this is not what you expect to catch in this area but it is a 5 start eating fish regardless. So we at least had caught a feed and had only been on the water less than 10 minutes.
This place is beautiful out on the water and you do see many Crocs lazing around on the bank or floating in the river. It is a surreal experience. You would not want to be there in a small tinny though!! At one point we saw one Croc laying on the bank and went closer to get a photo, but we startled the Croc and it very quickly ran and jumped in the water. It made a big splash and surprised us all. It was amazing to see how quickly these giants can move. Hal managed to catch this great pic.
Not too long after that KD’s rod started jumping and we all scrambled to reel in our lines to get out of her way. She was fighting with a fish that seemed to be of significant size. There was a bit of swearing and groaning and a decent fight was put up by the fish. As it got closer to the boat we realised that our hope of catching a big Barra that day had been realised and KD reeled in a whopping 75cm Barramundi – whoop whoop! Hal had kindly purchased a big net to scoop the fish out of the water as Col’s net wasn’t big enough to handle this sized fish. Hal also bought it because of the safety issues putting your hands anywhere near the water in Croc country. People have been pulled out of the boat and killed before when the Croc goes for the fish and they are holding it. Not good. Col was excited to see the big Ice Box on the boat with a fish in it that touched either end!!
We continued to trawl and Hal was the next one to reel in a Big Barra which was 61cm long. I then reeled in two Barra’s that were just undersize at 50cm. Minimum size is 55cm so that was a bit of a bummer. But still, great to have caught my first Barra at Shady camp. It was a lot of fun. We had a great day out on the water and I definitely enjoyed it more in the boat than on land fishing on the barrage. We had to keep a close eye on the time though as the tides change here very dramatically and quickly. If you miss the tide you get stuck in the boat in Croc territory for many hours in the dark. This does not sound appealing to me at all, so just remember to watch the clock and allow plenty of time to get out safely.
Again I volunteered to get the car and trailer and back it down the ramp to retrieve the boat and it all went smoothly.
After a great day fishing we stopped in at the Humpty Doo pub on our way home for dinner. I was surprised at how nice the food was and the place was packed. They also sold Shaw and Smith Sav Blanc for $8 a glass hahaha. For those of you that know that wine, you generally can’t buy it by the glass at most pubs because it is an expensive wine at $35 a bottle from Dan Murphy’s. But here it was in the remote outback Humpty Doo pub which made me laugh. So we finished the day with good food and wine and then headed home.
This is the video that Col made of our fishing day at Shady Camp. His editing skills are improving with each video and he felt particularly proud of this one. Nice one Skiddy!!