Written by: Alex Julius- NAFA
There’s no doubt Shady Camp on the NT’s mighty Mary River was a good place to be on my last trip.
The tides were neap and slowly increasing over the three days and both launching and retrieving were not too hard except that, in the morning, launching on the dead low required a bit of careful manouevring.
I went solo due to Covid-19 restrictions on fishing.
The water was low and there was no wasting time getting.
I headed down at 60kph and, for the first time in decades, slam-dunked a crocodile. I was gazing at the passing banks and saw it just at the last moment. It was about 3m long and went down but a big hit was inevitable, and the boat actually lifted sharply; I reckon I smacked it right in the head because later I saw the stainless prop was bent.
Bretto Warren with his 125cm Moby Dick of a barra from Shady Camp on a Classic 120 lure.
I pulled up and went back to look for it but there was no sign… a betting man would say I killed it, God damn.
There were boat 60 boats at the mouth and the fishing was slow at first, but I caught four little barra then hooked a ripper. I fought this fish for what seemed like ages, and suddenly felt one of the two trebles pull… always a horrible feeling!
Gently then, I worked it to the boat and it poked a big head out 3m away.
To my further dismay, the second hook hung precariously from the side of its face, and I knew then the odds were against me landing it on my own. I got it a bit closer and reached for the net, but it surged away again and the hook pulled.
I reckoned it was at least 110cm and I was gutted.
Not long later, the wind blew up and, with the tide more than halfway in, I headed back up the river to get the boat out while the tide was still making. However, I was surprised to see boat after boat hooked up to big threadfin salmon.
Big threadfin salmon were on the chew in the Mary River when Alex fished solo.
I gave into temptation and pulled up in a lonely stretch.
“Wow” I uttered aloud as I watched the big Lowrance HDS Live sounder light up with dozens of big etchings below and on both sides of the boat.
Two lures went out and I caught four big ones in the next hour before heading back to the ramp for an easy retrieve and easy drive back home.
My research later unearthed that some big barra were caught at the Mary around the time I was there… and I rued the fact that I nearly had one too.
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Talk about a small town with a lot going on. 6 hours from Perth by car, this seaside detour perfectly captures the colours and spirit of Western Australia.