A bigger wet season is a great opportunity to catch that prized barra; it also increases the chances of an encounter with a saltwater crocodile.
With the expectation that the Territory will receive higher than usual rainfall as we move into a La Niña year, the associated Runoff could be epic. However, the increased rainfall also means increased risk of saltwater crocodile encounters as they move around more commonly and freely in swollen waterways.
Crocodiles can inhabit any body of water in the Top End. Never enter the water unless signed safe to do so. Crocodiles are highly dangerous; they do kill and are opportunistic predators. During the breeding season, which is around October/November through to May, crocodiles are more aggressive. This can pose an even greater danger while you’re trying to fish the Runoff.
Left: A crocodile will see you and stalk you long before you see it. This East Alligator croc is camouflaged and ready to pounce.
A saltwater crocodile can lower its heart rate to 2-3 beats per minute and stay underwater for long periods of time. If you are fishing from the water’s edge, or think it is a good idea to wash your gear while kneeling on the bank or leaning over your boat, think again: a crocodile can hide in the shallowest of water. Crocodiles are powerful ambush predators and can launch out of the water up to several metres high, using their muscular tail, snatching prey from the water’s edge and even from within a boat.
A crocodile will see you and stalk you long before you see it! It is important to minimise your time launching the boat:
· Keep all your limbs inside at all times; use a net when retrieving or releasing fish.
· Use a hook to retrieve floats/ropes of crab pots.
· Dispose of your fishing waste thoughtfully.
· When fishing from land, stay at least 5m away from the edge.
People have lost their lives trying to retrieve lures and even been snatched from the back of boats. Avoid becoming a statistic when you don’t make it home because you tried to retrieve that $19.99 lure.
If you see a problem crocodile, report it to the NT Parks and Wildlife Commission around Darwin on 0419 822 859 and Katherine on 0407 958 405.
The Be Crocwise website has heaps of handy hints on how to be safe around waterways, so brush up on your knowledge before you head out and stay safe so you can enjoy them for years to come.
Left: Don’t become a statistic by fishing closer than 5m from the water.
Above right: Elizabeth River boat ramp – minimise your time launching the boat.