'Smashed' crab pot provides big croc clue in Fitzroy
SAILING down the Fitzroy River in their 4.2 metre tinny, Jenny Coombes and Flynn Coombes had no idea creatures bigger than their boat were lurking beneath the surface.
Rockhampton grandmother Jenny and 12-year-old grandson Flynn, have always been keen boaties with the passion for fishing running four generations deep.
Ever since getting a new tinny in January, the duo have been spending more time than ever on the river, setting crab pots near the Nerimbera boat ramp.
The usually relaxing days out on the boat have turned into worrisome trips after a crocodile destroyed their crab pot, leaving behind teeth marks as evidence.
Jenny, who has been navigating the waters of the Fitzroy since the ripe age of four-years-old, said they were aware crocodiles lived in the Fitzroy.
But she is worried that with more sightings and crocodile incidents occurring, someone will get hurt.
Jenny talked with The Morning Bulletin about her crocodile encounter earlier this week.
In an area of the river they call German Jacks, just 15 minutes from the Nerimbera boat ramp, Jenny and Flynn have been setting crab pots frequently.
"When the barrage gates were open, we had been crabbing up those creeks because that was the only place to get them," Jenny began.
"Since we got the boat in late January, we've been putting pots up in that creek."
Jenny and Flynn went to set crab pots on Sunday afternoon, with plans to collect them the following day.
"We put the pot in the inlet on the bank, near the point of what we call German Jacks," Jenny explained.
The next day they went back to check if they had any luck.
Flynn was in charge of pulling the crab pots out, so he reached down and that's when he saw something was wrong.
"He turned to me and said 'oh look at the pot nan, it's smashed," Jenny said.
"The bottom of the pot had been torn out and there were teeth marks in the float."
Jenny said there were about four pro fishermen out on the river at the same time that day.
"We went through the cut through (a spot in the river) and waved one of them down," she said.
"It was Dave Swindle, a pro fisherman who said to us it most certainly looked like croc teeth marks.
"His mate was up there the day before us and saw a croc in the same spot, they said the croc was 4.5 metres long."
Dave advised Jenny that due to it being breeding season, the four metre croc which had been spotted around the same area might have had a female croc with him.
"It may not have been this actual 4.5 meter croc everyone has seen, it could have been a smaller one with him," Jenny said.
Jenny said she was mostly worried about her 12-year-old grandson pulling the crab pots into the boat with large crocs hanging around.
"He could come up under our boat or he could have been in that pot trying to get the bait out when Flynn pulled it up, he could have come up after his dinner to the side of our boat and tipped it," she said.
Jenny said they had been going in and out of the creek with no idea of what was there.
"Obviously we know there are crocs in the river but not to that extent, we're not asking for them to be killed, we just want bigger ones removed," she said.
"Everything about the barrage that is over 2.5m automatically gets removed, anything below the barrage in salt water only gets removed because of behaviour issues.
"Why can't the 2.5m rule be an overall rule?"
The Department of Environment and Science (DES) confirmed there was a reported sighting of a large crocodile in the Fitzroy River on April 9, last Monday.
A DES spokesperson confirmed a site assessment of the area was conducted in response to the report.
"Recent sighting warning signs were installed at the Nerimbera Boat Ramp and (DES) are monitoring any further sightings at this location," the spokesperson said.
"The Fitzroy River is divided into different crocodile management zones under the Queensland Crocodile Management Plan. The management response to crocodile sightings is dependent on the zone.
"In this case, the crocodile was seen in a part of the Fitzroy River that is classed as Zone E (general management zone). This means that crocodiles displaying dangerous behaviour will be targeted for removal."
Details about all crocodile sighting reports received by DES can be found at www.ehp.qld.gov.au/wildlife/livingwith/crocodiles/crocwatch/