There’s no doubt Shady Camp was a good place to be last Friday and through the weekend.
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 on Friday and was surprised to see about 60 four-wheel-drives with boat trailers in the car-parks.
The water was low and there was no wasting time getting in; luckily fellow fishos Dan and Hamish in their boat Bulletproof held mine at the ramp while I made a hasty park… thanks lads.
I headed down at 60kph and, for the first time in decades, slam-dunked a croc.
I was gazing at the passing banks and saw it just at the last moment.
It was about 3m 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.
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 of Sampan Creek so I headed over to Tommycut and was rapt to find only four boats there.
The fishing was slow but I caught four little barra then hooked a ripper.
I fought this fish was 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 to Sampan Creek, taking an inshore approach over the shallows.
At Sampan, chatting to some mates, I wasn’t surprised to hear the big threadfin salmon had come on the bite.
Motoring upriver to get the boat out while the tide was still making, I was surprised to see boat after boat hooked up to big salmon.
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 over the weekend at the mouth of Sampan, and there were none bigger than Bretto Warren’s 125cm Godzilla of a fish.
Bretto had already landed a metre fish on a popper and dropped two around 110cm each when the big one latched onto his trolled Classic 120.
At one stage, there big barra boofing up inside the river.
“I sounded up two big ones and managed to put the lure past one of them,” Bretto told me.
“It just did one big jump, laid over and came in easily, and I had no trouble netting it.
“I was happy that it swam away strongly.
“It beat my 124cm from Charlies Creek on the Daly 10 years ago… my new PB,” a chuffed Bretto told me.
Bretto Warren with his 125cm Moby Dick of a barra from Shady Camp on a Classic 120 lure.
Connor Ryan (left), Terry Ryan and Sam Ryan with dad’s magnificent 116cm Shady Camp barra.