But she doesn’t just throw in a line and hope for the best. The 20-year-old Territorian has learnt the science of the sport – the tricks, the techniques, the psychology of it all.
“I love fishing,” she says. “I always hit the water with a plan – I target what I fish for and where I can find the fish. And I strategically select the best tackle and lures for where I am fishing.”
Darwin-born Charlotte is a shining example of the next generation of young Territorians who are passionate about fishing – ensuring a lifetime’s appreciation of nature and wildlife. And a simple love of being on the water. The never-ending chase for barramundi is literally her life. And going by the photographic evidence on her Instagram account, it is clear she is mastering the art.
Her personal bests include catching 30 fish in eight hours, five of them over 80 centimetres solo and the rest 70-78 centimetres. She has already caught four barra over a metre long, including a 113 centimetre “horse” at a secret spot a few weeks ago.
But fishing wasn’t always this good for Charlotte – she has worked hard to excel.
She first went fishing with her dad Steve when she was about six years old.
“I always asked to be taken fishing when I was little, but we didn’t go very often. None of my close relatives are fishing fanatics.”
She began to take fishing seriously while at Darwin High School – at first fishing with handlines and then rod and reel at Lake Bennett.
“My boyfriend had a tinnie and we would go fishing after school and every weekend.”
She became truly hooked when her cousin, Russell Hanton, took her barra fishing for her 17th birthday present.
“I didn’t catch anything the first five times I went out. I was blindly tossing lures, for thousands of casts, missing badly, but that didn’t put me off.”
It’s the “hit” that most excites Charlotte – the moment the barramundi takes the lure.
“Nothing hits like a barra. I’ve got bruised arms and legs from barra hits. The moment a barra hits is electrifying. Ask any fisherman.”
Charlotte, winner of the Australian Fishermen’s Association NT Youth Award last year, admits the chase for barramundi is her life now.She works at Tackle World in Coolalinga on the outskirts of Darwin. But she doesn’t just sell rods, reels, lures and other fishing equipment – she also gives astute advice and runs the store’s Arafura Bluewater Charters.
She often works as a deckie on charters and recently went out to sea with Paul Worsteling, host of the television program IFISH. But her great love is lure fishing – accurately casting among the timber debris in barra-rich rivers.
“If you’re casting three times a week, you get pretty good at it.There is so much to learn about fishing, little tricks that you pick up every time you go out. Sometimes you catch nothing and learn more than when you catch something. Fishing is very technical.”
It’s not unusual for her to head out to a fishing spot immediately after work, fish all night and return in time to start work again the next morning.
She is happy to sleep in a tinnie on the South Alligator or Adelaide rivers to be on the fish at the right tide time. And she is willing to drive long distances to get to a favourite fishing spot.
“When the night fishing is on, it’s on. You don’t sleep.”
She still enjoys fishing when she doesn’t catch anything.
“I just love being on the water. l love the scenery and everything that goes with it. There are so many beautiful places – sometimes they are breathtaking. It’s a good life, camping and fishing.”
Charlotte believes that the fun is catching ‘em, not killing ‘em – so she releases nearly all her fish, putting them back in the water properly so that they can live to breed and possibly be caught another day. But what about the crocs? Her advice is to be “crocwise”.
“I’m always on the lookout for them.”
Charlotte says her dad thinks she’s “fishing crazy” and her mum worries about her being out in the wilderness. She is thankful for having good fishing buddies and appreciates the advice and help she has got from mentors.
Does she want to pursue a career in fishing? “My dad says that’s what I should do. I have ambition but all I want to do is to go fishing. Remember … I’m only 20. There’s plenty of time.”
Charlotte is sponsored by leading fishing equipment company Daiwa and online magazine Cast. More sponsors are always welcome. She has just bought her first boat and is planning to enter major competitions, such as the Barra Classic and Barra Klash.