I’ve been in Australia for a couple of months now and I am staying with a friend in Townsville. After a few drinks one night playing poker I, for some reason unknown to me now, accepted an invitation to go on a four-day fishing trip.
I guess I was thinking of the fun I’d had casting my line off the dock at my cottage (in Ontario, Canada), where a bed and shower were readily available.
This however was going to be real fishing. The wake up call was 3am! We rushed off to a tiny little river to catch the high tide to get to our island where we would spend three long nights.
Upon arriving at the river I saw a “croc warning” sign which I promptly questioned the boys about.
They of course told me they had never seen a croc in these waters before in all the years they had been there. They then proceeded to tell me to guide the boats into the water… but to throw a couple of rocks in first, just in case. This was going to be a long weekend.
Soon we were in the water and starting our slow ride to the island, down a beautiful deserted stream. We arrived around 6am and set up camp. We were the only ones camping on the island that weekend so we had the run of it.
By the time we had finished, the tide had gone out and the river we had rode in on just a short while ago had become sand. There wasn’t much to do so we turned on our little radio and cracked open some breakfast beers till it was time to catch some bait for the evenings fishingtrip.
We cast the bait nets in a few shallow areas but came up with nothing. So we kept wandering further in until we hit water about waist deep. I looked at them and asked if there would be anycrocs in that water. They shook there heads and started walking through the water.
I was about knee deep when they turned around and said: “You don’t have to come if you don’t want to, but if you do, stomp your feet as you walk. Make heaps of vibrations.” “But I thought there were no crocs in there,” I replied. “There are no crocs but there will be sting rays.”
I was out of there so quickly. I waited for them to come back, which meant about 45 minutes of paranoid searching for possible crocs in the extreme north Queensland heat – it seemed like a lifetime. We got bait though.
The first night of fishing was slow as we caught nothing. I couldn’t have cared less, but the boys were getting frustrated. We stayed out until dark, hoping to catch at least one, but we were forced in after hearing a croc call.
I couldn’t even describe what it sounded like, but I was on the look out for red eyes all the way back to camp. I didn’t get much sleep that night, thinking a croc was going to climb into my tent and drag me away.
We only had one uninvited guest that night and it was a rat, but I could handle that compared to the other much worse options.
Day two we set out early and caught tonnes of fish! About five keepers and I somehow caught a crab on my line which I still look back on and laugh about. The poor little guy was eating my bait and I had the nerve to reel him in. I tried to shake him off and he was trying to cut the line with his clippers.
Another catch came later in the night when I was fishing near the mangroves for a mangrove jack. These little guys have a trick where they eat your bait then quickly head for the mangrove roots where they’ll tangle you up so you have to cut your line and let them go.
So as soon as I got a bite I was quickly reeling. My arm was going as fast as it could.
I ended up having to give my rod to one of the boys to reel it in because the fish was so strong. We ended up keeping my mangrove jack and ate it for dinner.
We left early the next morning to catch the high tide. Smelly and exhausted we made our way back to Townsville. Alive.