Last week, the Mary River boat ramp and car park went under at the bridge on the Arnhem Highway.
Consequently, water started cascading over Shady Camp barrage, and with it a lot of dead fish from the recent annual fish kill.
I managed to check out Shady Camp this week with Shaun Stringer who is one of several great marine electrical technicians in the awesome Frontier Marine team.
Frontier Marine is owned and operated by Dave and Leanne Pears at their new state-of-the-art Berrimah premises which includes a modern retail showroom that seems to stock every marine electronic brand known to mankind.
Pearsy, the name we all know and love him by, and Shaun had just completed a major electronics makeover on my boat.
Sparing no expense, I had them install a pair of the latest Lowrance HDS Pro 16 fish finders and the updated Active Target 2 high-definition live sonar.
For all intents and purposes, the trip to Shady was to undertake a “practical” water test, one where there were likely to be fish involved.
Accompanying Shaun and I was my good friend and talented angler, Roxy Woolley.
It was an early start to catch the tide at the Shady Camp ramp, and it was good to see water tumbling over the barrage and churning into a frothy, foam-filled soup on the downstream side.
The downside was the stench – a combination of rotting fish carcases recently flowing down the river and the freshwater flow that had been contaminated by decaying vegetation and black soil impurities washing off the sodden floodplains.
We made our way downstream at haste, stopping when we were past the river stench.
Shaun is not only a legend at installing intricate live sonar electronics; he is also a legend at using this technology.
The number of big barra he has caught at various Top End locations over the last 12 months is simply astounding: we’re talking triple-figure numbers of barra in the 90s and a whole bunch of metreys.
Who better for me to water test my new setup with?
It was tough going for a while as the barra, although clearly abundant, were not co-operating, no doubt due to the recent flooding and “bad water” flow.
Notwithstanding, the Active Target 2 performed brilliantly, clearly depicting fish and sizes.
There were not only barra but also sharks and threadfin, and you could make them out by their tail swipes.
Thanks to Shaun’s considerable experience with live sonar, and his well-developed skills in interpreting what he sees on the screen and converting that to hooked fish, in the end we managed to boat five barra.
Four of them were 75cm to 95cm fish, but the catch of the day was… drum roll … Shaun’s spectacular 113cm barra which I witnessed on the big HDS Pro screen being caught from the instant the lure splashed down, to its erratic action as it was being retrieved, and finally to the big fish turning on the lure and crashing it.
It was incredulous how the Lowrance Active Target 2 depicted the underwater drama taking place but, after that, most of the action was above the water as this mighty barra launched itself from side to side around the boat.
The verdict at the end of the day: well, I really just can’t fault this state-of-the-art electronics combined with the professional high-tech expertise provided by Darwin’s Frontier Marine… end of story.
Active Target 2 strikes again – Roxy Woolley deftly nets another beauty.
Frontier Marine’s Shaun Stringer set up the Lowrance Active Target electronics, then water tested it with the capture of this 113cm barra.