Fishing for a living: how hard can it be?!
We all love Sienna’s wild-caught barramundi. And the notion of a young 20-year-old girl fishing with her family for her living. Just go to the creek, put out a net, catch fish, and go home! Right?! Sounds like the life! Not sure it’s quite that easy … Do we really know what’s involved in a night’s fishing? I spoke to Sienna and her folks Neil and Leanne Green about one of their recent barramundi fishing trips, and thought it was worth sharing, so you really get to know what’s involved in getting this quality product to you.
A night in the life of a barramundi fisher, by Sienna Green:
The afternoon starts at 3pm, loading the quad bikes (1 towing a trailer) with crew and gear: Four people (Sienna, partner Dale and Sienna’s parents Neil and Leanne), three nets, two eskies, LOTS of ice, flashing lights, floats, tubs, measuring stick, safety gear, etc. At this time of year, we also carry our own salt-water as the water temperature of the creek is too hot to be able to ice fish down – a key process to preserve the quality of the fish. The four of us head off on the bikes loaded with the gear, traveling across sticky, boggy, muddy, salt pans. The salt pans are tricky to navigate through, especially when the tide is covering them. There are many slop holes – a nightmare to get stuck in. Thankfully we didn’t get bogged this time! After 20 minutes of careful driving, we arrive at our private mud landing, where our two boats and a swarm of mosquitos await.
Everything is unloaded from the bikes to the boats. The boats are pushed through the mud at what is currently low tide, out into deeper water. We wash the mud from our feet, jump on board, put on our overalls, and drive to the chosen netting spot. Neil’s boat carries nets, lights, one esky and Dale. Sienna’s boat carries extra ice in another ice box and Leanne.
Cruising for 15 minutes, we arrive at the creek we have chosen to fish tonight. We can hear the barra ‘chomping’ – sounds promising! The tide is low enough for the exposed mud flats to reflect the afternoon sun. As the tide starts to push in, we set the nets, positioned with precision based on Neil’s decades of experience as a second-generation fisher.
As the water makes its way up onto the mud flats, flowing into the creek, the barras start to hit the nets. The water temperature is high (40 degrees), so we must move very quickly as a team to get the fish out of the nets, ikijime’d, gilled and gutted, cleaned, and into the ice slurry. It takes about 20 minutes each time from when we ‘run’ the net to when the fish hit the ice. The Green Team works hard and fast to ensure the fish is well looked after.
About 7pm the sun’s glow fades and we put on our headtorches. Prime time for mozzies and bugs. They love our headtorches, and it sounds like a motorbike race track around our heads! No time to complain. The water temperature is still warm, and fish are still hitting the nets. Repeat: Run the nets, process fish, run the nets, process fish…. We are soaked with sweat and stink of BO and aeroguard. Lucky the fish don’t mind!
At 9pm the tide is high. Time to pull out the nets and return to the landing. Mosquitos greet our arrival yet again. Sienna’s boat is winched up the bank. Neil’s boat, which carries the esky of iced down fish must be unloaded by hand in tubs - a slippery, exhausting process on a muddy bank!
We just finish re-icing the fish on the trailer and the pelting rain starts – refreshing! We load the rest of the gear on the bikes, check the boats are tied securely, and head off across the salt pans. The massive raindrops restrict our visibility. The trailer gets bogged. Great. Still pouring rain. A lot of pushing, winching, grunting. We get the trailer un-bogged. Off we go again for home.
No time to rest yet. The fish is unloaded, weighed, and data recorded for Fisheries. Then it’s reloaded into an esky on the back of ute and iced down for the last time. We are full of sweat, mud and salt, and suffering sore backs. But we caught a pay this trip and the job is done.
It’s midnight – time to kick back, have a drink, and find sleep at last.
Up early to drive fish to the processor. Fillet, trim, bag, Cryovac, and pack the fish. Drive to Tobin Fish Tales to deliver the barra. We proudly supply Tobin Fish Tales as they appreciate the high standard of care that we give the product, and continue this standard right through to you, the consumer.
Do it all again in the next night ...
Sienna’s barra isn’t possible without the efforts of her parents Neil and Leanne, and partner Dale. We are the Green Team!
 An ice slurry made with saltwater and ice is commonly used by fishers to quickly drop the temperature and preserve the quality of fish. Saltwater slurrys are colder than a slurry made with fresh water. Salt works to depress the freezing point of water so the water can become colder than 0 degrees Celsius before it turns to ice (check out for interest: https://sciencing.com/adding-salt-water-make-colder-5459114.html).
 Ikijime is a humane method of killing fish quickly to maintain the quality of its meat. The technique, which originated in Japan, involves the insertion of a spike quickly and directly into the hindbrain, causing immediate brain death. This preserves the quality of the fish as the muscles immediately relax.