After four months working in the NorthWest, it was with much anticipation that we left Kununurra late August and headed south to a Kimberley coastal camp for four weeks. Good mates John Duthie and Jim (Jungle) Nilsson had set up camp earlier and on arrival they advised the fishing had been slow initially, with the ongoing shark issue posing problems, but more about that later.
This trip was the first serious, off grid, shakedown for our new Northern Lite slide-on truck camper. We were keen to see how she coped with the five hour drive in, but more importantly, if we would cope on gas and solar panels alone, as the generator had been left home this year. So, for those who are tech minded, 3 x 100amp lithium batteries were boosted daily by 4 x 100 watt solar panels, two on the camper roof and two portable. A three way fridge is the only way to go in my mind, so the 2 x 9kg gas bottles lasted about 22 days, therefore only 1 bottle refill was required over the 28 day period. We were also running a 50 litre fridge and 40 litre freezer off the camper batteries. A generator is a great back up, but quite frankly a pain in the neck over an extended period of time due to the noise factor and the added fuel required to transport in. With a 2500watt inverter in the camper, I could run laptops, other electrical appliances and even crank up the aircon for an hour or so if needed. Anyway, we were very impressed that the batteries held up and with the Redarc monitoring system, I was able to check that anytime between 1 and 2pm each day we were back up to 100% battery power. Sure things might be a bit trickier if we had a few days of cloudy skies, but that’s not going to happen up here at this time of year and even in the worst case scenario, I still had the dual truck batteries to draw on.
OK, so with that out of the way, it was down to some serious fishing. John and jungle were keen to head out 20km or so on a regular basis, where admittedly the bigger fish were about, but although I did two trips out here, one quite successful on snapper, the other not so, in the end I could not justify the time involved, fuel useage and worst of all losing so many good fish to sharks. So I began mixing things up quite a bit to take the sharks out of the equation and maximise fishing time. Nothing too fancy, but the main tactics involved casting halcos and poppers to surface fish, trolling deep divers early morning, beach fishing on high tides, bottom fishing the bite times on smaller lumps away from the larger ones where sharks congregated, only two drops on each lump, minimal anchoring and when the tidal range increased, driving while fishing to keep the bait and plastics in the strike zone longer. Cooked prawns were the bait of choice although one day salted down shark mackerel strip bait accounted for seven coral trout, only one being size. Friends and family joined us at various times during this trip and the highlights were definitely when my mate Brian caught his first ever Cobia and my daughter Lisa landed a solid tuna ( pictured ). For myself, a range of species landed included black snapper, tuskfish, mack tuna, narrow barred mackerel, golden trevally, queenie, threadfin salmon, coral trout and even a few mud crabs on one expedition. Hope you’re all getting amongst them down south now the weather is improving!