There’s no better way to cement our trout fishing prowess then to immediately follow up our first ever trout success with another successful trout fishing mission. This time round Mal, Hong and James joined in the action.
The trip started out with beers and pizza at the Pemberton Hotel. The pizzas were delicious and huge! We boxed up the left overs, chucked them in the car fridge and headed into the forest to find camp by the Warren River.
It drizzled throughout the first day but since we’re super tough we went fishing in the rain. Wet, steep, muddy slopes along the river bank, combined with a couple of beers, was a recipe for a few muddy bum slides and some exciting close calls at the water’s edge.
A few trout were caught, some undersized and a couple just a tick over the minimum 30cm mark. We smoked them up in the fish smoker using banana peel and garlic for the smoke source. The trout tasted fantastic. I’m glad to report the lingering salmon flavour from the fish smoker has completely disappeared after we burnt it all off on the previous camp.
James did not come prepared with waterproof boots or waders so suffered with soggy boots for most of the trip. After drying them off by the fire one night, he was keen to try to keep them dry the next day. He improvised a solution for the wet boots but it was a dismal failure – see photos.
The week after Labour Day long weekend we went to Myalup with family for some fishing and relaxing. We stayed at Myalup caravan park, where you’re not allowed tents! Apparently because people with tents have a greater chance of getting too drunk and disturbing the peace at the caravan park. Maybe only lower class people use tents? Sounds right because we set up camp with a tent and got asked to take it down!
The whiting were on the bite at Myalup which is not unusual. Nonna landed a huge haul of whiting. Decent size too compared to what we usually get off the beach. Whiting are delicious. We pan fried a few and chucked the rest in pasta sauce for some spaghetti marinara.
Leaving Banana, Joe picked a camping spot a comfortable day’s drive south where he could do some fishing. Claude Wharton Weir, near Gayndah, was the campsite of choice. It’s free too. To no surprise Joe caught several catfish (again). Just getting the experience needed before starting up his commercial catfish business. Such is the reliability in which he can catch these buggers. Fishing into the night saw two turtles and a huge eel landed. Asking a chap camping nearby whether eels were good to eat, he said “not unless you’re Chinese.” Not being Chinese, the eel was chucked back along with the turtles and catfish. The eel violently twisted like a corkscrew to try to escape the hookup and caused a big birds nest in the line. A bad tangle in the dark is enough to demotivate any fisherman. Even a great one like Joe. Time for bed. Next morning heading out towards Noosa Heads we passed by the big orange and stopped for some happy snaps.
Leaving Roper Bar, the Savannah Way heads into some pretty remote country, through Limmen River National Park and towards the Gulf of Carpentaria on Nathan River Road. This road is all dirt and with the recent rain made it an interesting drive. There were many muddy puddles and flowing creeks to cross and generally the track was rough and slippery, giving us plenty of sideways action. The corrugations managed to break our CB radio antenna. This wouldn’t be the last thing to fall victim to corrugations on our trip across Savannah Way. We checked out the St Vidgeon ruins then headed to Towns River camping area for an overnight stop. There’s a good fishing spot near the campsite off some rocks along the Towns River. The water was very clear and we could see plenty of fish including some pretty big sharks. I hooked up a couple of small barra but they shook off. Then I hooked up something huge, like a truck. It felt like a shark. Whatever it was the fight didn’t last long, breaking off my line in a few seconds and taking away my favourite lucky lure.
After the great crocodile ambush of Shady Camp we thought there were too many crocodiles to try for another night of fishing there, so we headed north up the dirt track towards Point Stuart – the point where John McDouall Stuart reached the beach on his successful south to north traverse of the Australian continent.
Bit disappointed with what we found. No facilities. No camping area. No tracks to access any fishing areas. No vehicle access to the coast or any bodies of water. There was a walking track that took you to the actual beach where John McDouall Stuart landed, but it was too hot to attempt. There’s a private boat ramp at the fishing lodge which can be used to launch a boat from when staying at the lodge.
We headed back to Point Stuart Wilderness Lodge. It’s a nice little caravan park with bungalows and cabins for the upmarket travellers, a swimming pool and a nice little bar made of timber and corrugated iron with some art and photos related to the local wilderness and barramundi. It’s the most expensive unpowered camping accommodation I have ever paid for in my life. Apart from that, we enjoyed our stay with a cooling swim in the pool and a relaxing night at the bar, watching MTVs top 100 karaoke hits and downing a few cold ales.
It was at Shady Camp in the Mary River National Park where we were flanked from all sides by teams of crocodiles in a great ambush that the Viet Cong would be proud of. It was night time and we were fishing off the far side of the Shady Camp barrage, with the camping area, our vehicle and all our stuff on the other side. I had just landed a nice 57cm barramundi so was reasonably satisfied with the night’s proceedings.
As the night progressed it became apparent that the number of crocodiles in our area were accumulating. With our torches we could see the eyes of many crocodile insurgents in the water. Never before had I seen so many crocodiles at one time, up to around 20 we counted. They kept getting closer to the barrage from both in front and behind us, making us feel nervous. Hong thought it was time for a break to give it time for the crocodile offensive to subside and clear away. I said I’d be right behind him, just reel in my last cast. Just as I had my lure out of the water Hong was back already. “We’re not going anywhere” he says, shining his torch across the barrage, illuminating a chunky 3 meter croc, resting on the barrage and separating us from the safe side of the barrage. I thought we were fairly boned. Crocodiles closing in from all directions. “So that’s why there’s all those people on the other side of the barrage and none of them are coming out to join us fishing” said Hong.
The only thing I could do to control the situation was be to keep fishing and hope the crocs went away. At least I’d die doing what I loved. My plan worked, with the big croc moving off after about an hour of some of the least relaxing fishing I’ve ever done. We scurried back to the safe side of the barrage, running the gauntlet with crocs on both sides of us. We celebrated still being alive with some beer and sliced bread for dinner.
The Reynolds Track finishes near Daly River, a small town situated on a river of the same name. The river is reported to be the Northern Territory’s premier barra fishing river so we thought it made sense to check it out. Much to our dismay we found a boat was required to take advantage of the Daly River. The surrounding area is either private pastoral land or aboriginal land off limits without a permit, so there is no opportunity to explore bush tracks along the river to find good fishing spots. Without a boat you’re basically limited to the area around the low level river crossing. We tried our luck there and managed to land our specialty species – a small catfish. Cooked up our remaining mud crab using the kelly kettle and had that for dinner along with a few spuds roasted in the hot coals and the threadfin salmon that I caught at Finnis River.
There’s a nice bush pub at Daly River so after not much luck fishing at the crossing we went there to ask for advice and drink a few pints of motivation. The fella behind the bar told us one other spot to try – the mouth of Bamboo Creek where it meets the Daly River. Head down Cemetery Road, cross the bridge over Bamboo Creek, park up on the side of the road then bush bash through the vegetation to the mouth of the creek. Again we caught another catfish! Unbelievable how reliably we can catch these things. Another small one caught on a lure almost as big as itself. Chucked it back in, tried for a bit longer until we succumbed to the heat and headed back to the pub.
We stayed a second night at Daly River at the caravan park near the pub. Couldn’t do anything else after an afternoon at the pub. Cooked up a camp oven roast chicken and hit the hay ready for an early departure in the morning.