DIRTY BARRA BUSINESS
With a few days off while in Broome and cabin fever starting to creep up on me again after being in a caravan park for a few months, it was time to pack the truck up for a few nights on the Fitzroy River. I do enjoy doing these sort of trips on my own sometimes as it involves less gear and I can do things at the time it suits me. Call it selfish, but going bush anywhere for a few days is a good tonic to enjoy the simple things like an uninterrupted view of billions of stars, the sounds of birdlife all around and cooking on the fire.
Of course it’s all nice to get romantic about the bush, but let’s face it, I was on a mission to hunt barra. With one of the worst year’s on record up here for rainfall, all the news was bad on the barra front and after chatting with three camps nearby I was to learn that no-one had landed a fish trolling for many days. The other problem facing me when I arrived was that the recent full moon high tides had made their way to my land based fishing spot and so for five metres to the river bank it was soft, slushy, Fitzroy mud, a bit like mum’s old chocolate cake mix, but without the flavour. You beauty! It was like being a three year old all over again except no mum around to wash me afterwards. My booties were too loose fitting and kept getting sucked off me as I tried to retrieve my fast disappearing feet. Then I tried my Keen’s boat shoes but they were not up to the task and when I resorted to the Rossie boots it soon became obvious that they could have been lost to the Fitzroy forever. So it was back to nature and good old bare feet as I chased live bait up and down the river. Fortunately I had already set up the bush camp with firewood ready, mossie dome/swag on the back of the truck and food ready to go, as it was likely to be a very messy afternoon of fishing. In the first hour I hooked a mid size barra and had it halfway in until an aerial display shook the hook free. With only a stingray afterwards it was an early dinner and then fishing again on dark before the moon was due to rise about 830pm. During this session it was quiet, but I did manage to catch and release a 48cm barra which was promising.
I always wear long sleeve and long light cotton pants here as the sand flies and mossies are rampant. When I got back to camp this first lot of clothing went straight in the fish bucket. At first light I was at it again and the early rise paid off with a 54cm fish landed almost immediately. This was just a little frustrating as the minimum legal size is 55cm. The fish was safely released, but shortly after I knew I was a chance of a better one as a more serious run started. I resisted the temptation to go early and after ten seconds or so, set the hook. The fish leaped out of the water at the same time as I leaped out of my deck chair and ended up to my knees in mud. It would have looked quite comical if there had been anyone around as I tried to land this fish while trying to extricate myself from the oozing, quick sand like mixture. In the end I stayed where I was and managed to land the 73cm barra which was a blessing after so much effort. This one was destined for the fish box and after another five hours of fishing there was no more action so it was time to pack up and head back to the other world.
To answer last week’s question, the estimated population of adult saltwater crocodiles in Australia is between 100,000 and 200,000 This week’s question is, ‘Which weather event is regarded as being responsible for the worst wet season for 25 years in the North West?’
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