Hopes are high for a better wet season this year and the associated runoff period that follows. The opportunity to head out for a day or more on the water, exploring the environment of the Top End, is one that shouldn’t be missed. The fish are out there, and so are creatures that hunt them. Saltwater crocodiles are found in all Top End waterways.
Wherever there is water, you should assume a crocodile is nearby. Crocs are curious and they are superbly adapted for living and hunting in Territory waters. Always Be Crocwise when you are fishing.
Size matters: many saltwater crocodiles are larger than the average car-top tinny. The smaller the boat, the bigger the risk when it comes to staying safe in Top End waterways, and the more freeboard that your boat has, the safer you will be when you are in it.
When launching your boat, have everything ready before reversing down the ramp. Minimise the amount of time you need to be in the water to launch your boat. If you take a mate with you, try and drive the boat on and off the trailer.
Keep your arms and legs inside your boat at all times. Use a net or long-handled gaff to pull in your catch instead of using your hands. If you plan to release your catch, take a long-handled net and a large tub; don’t revive the fish by holding it in the river.
Always dispose of your fishing rubbish thoughtfully, particularly around boat ramps or other regularly-used areas. Barra frames, fish guts and blood or bait can attract a crocodile if it’s left lying around near the riverbank or tossed into the water near your boat. Saltwater crocodiles have an excellent sense of smell and will be able to smell your fishing rubbish from a long way away.
If you are fishing from the bank, make sure you stand at least 5m from the water’s edge. A saltwater crocodile is the perfect ambush predator. They are able to sneak up on unwary prey that come down to the water’s edge for a drink and will lie in wait, completely camouflaged, in even the shallowest of water. A crocodile will see you before you see it. A saltie uses its muscular tail to leap up out of the water to grab its dinner faster than its prey, or you, can ever hope to react.
Stay safe while you are fishing. You are in crocodile country, and you will never see every crocodile that is out there.