I am fortunate to live in a scenic part of tropical far north Queensland. I am a keen birdwatcher and photographer. Just from our property, I have identified nearly 200 species of birds and am confident that, in time, that count will exceed 200. David Attenborough is on video commenting on what a fabulous bird hot spot the area is.
Even better, I have access to boar and wild dog hunting, right on my doorstep. Within five minutes, I can be in a stunning piece of FNQ scenery with a pretty good chance of bagging a hog or a dog.
Today dawned clear and calm, after weeks of breezy weather. I had been hoping for another windy morning so that I could do a quick dog hunt with a clean conscience. However, with a calm morning at last, I had a lot of weed spraying to do, down the fencelines and along our many garden beds.
As I worked my way down toward the shoreline of the lake, I could see a good-sized silver blob well out in the water. I did not need binoculars to know what that was. A big barramundi had died, either from natural causes or a result of sport fishing, and was slowly drifting my way.
Over the next couple of hours, as I emptied knapsack after knapsack onto the luxuriant weed growth, I kept my eye on the approaching barra. By the time a slight breeze had picked up, it looked like the fish would continue on down the lake rather than come ashore at our place.
I slogged back up the hill to have a cup of tea with Kathy. While we were enjoying that, the breeze swung a little, and the fish obligingly drifted into the shallow water’s edge. We grabbed the camera and went to have a better look. I said to Kathy that I hoped the fish was in good shape for a photo. Sometimes fish like this are starting to rot and have been torn about by the many tortoises in the lake.
The barra looked to be in great shape so I waded in and grabbed hold of it. Much to my surprise there was a huge splash and the fish powered out into the deeper water. Hastily divesting myself of mobile phone, car keys and wallet, I went after the fish. Here was something worth getting wet for.
The surge from the fish took it in a circle and brought it back to me. So, apart from my Muck Woody boots filling with water, I did not need to take the full plunge. The fish had been nibbled a little by tortoises but was otherwise in good shape. There was no sign of any injury from being caught and released, so some natural cause was the source of its demise. Its eyes were glazed and clearly it was on its last legs (bad analogy for a fish, I know).
This experience of barra coming ashore is not unique for us. However, this was the first time we had one still flapping, so it was worth some video and photos. It was your stock-standard Tinaroo barra. I did not need to weigh or measure it to know it was 1.2 metres and about 21.5 kilograms. To be able to catch one with my bare hands leads me to believe I must be in paradise (not counting all the taipans, brown and other snakes here with us).