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Alex's Fishing Report 18 February 2016

I had intended not to write about the Million Dollar Fish promotion this week, but then Nathan Neave goes and catches his second $10,000 fish.
What are the odds of that?
Admittedly, it was caught in the same location in Darwin Harbour, which probably means both his tagged recaptures were released in that vicinity.
“I didn’t even think I would catch one of the fish let alone two,” Nathan said.
The 19 year old caught the 65cm barra while fishing with childhood friend, Joseph Puntoriero.
The two friends have been fishing together for many years but never quite experienced a day like this.
“The fish got snagged and we thought we were going to lose it and then we saw it was a barra and then saw the red tag and we couldn’t believe it.”
Nathan said he’ll be giving a share of his cash prize to his good friend and using the rest to fix his boat.
The pair then plan on hitting the water again as soon as possible to try and catch the elusive $1 million barra.
Matt Tripp, CEO of CrownBet, the major sponsor, was thrilled for Nathan after he became the first fisho to land a second $10,000 cash prize.
“Congratulations to Nathan. He’s beaten the odds landing two $10,000 prizes and just earned serious bragging rights,” he said.
Mr Tripp also suggested CrownBet expects more prizes will be won before the season finishes on 29 February with 67 tagged fish still remaining including the one million dollar fish.
“CrownBet has just ordered more of the trophies that accompany cash prize wins. Get out and wet your line. The $1,000,000 fish is still out there,” Mr Tripp said.
Expert tagger Bill Sawynok from Info Fish, who spent two months catching, tagging and releasing the prized barramundi in locations across the Northern Territory last year, said he was shocked by Nathan’s second winning catch.
“It is very, very rare. I’m not aware of any competition like this where one person has caught two of the fish.”
The capture of this ninth $10,000 fish has once again stimulated a gold-rush-style stampede of anglers heading out to hunt for the big one: the actual Million Dollar Fish itself.
Just where to try is still anybody’s guess, though I suspect an armada of boats will be hitting Darwin Harbour arms on the good harbour tides this weekend.
The lower Mary River should be worth a try on Saturday.
Some quality barra were caught at the river mouths on the last neap tides.
Matt West from Fishing and Outdoor World told me the South Alligator River has been producing right at the top.
“There’s some clear water flowing off the floodplain but only right at the top,” Matt said.
A red-tagged barra was also caught at Bynoe Harbour, and there are bound to be more in that vast estuarine system.
Of course, there is always the Daly; hopefully it is finally starting to settle down after weeks of ups and downs in water levels.
The interesting thing about the Million Dollar Fish competition is that all the winning barra have been caught by local anglers.
That’s not to say that interstate visitors haven’t lobbed to have a go; they just haven’t been lucky enough, even though most have been fishing with experienced guides.
Notwithstanding, the dollar spin for the NT economy has been significant.
Marine dealers, for example, have been experiencing an unprecedented boon in outboard motor servicing; servos have been selling more fuel; grog shops have been selling more beer; and tackle shops have had nothing to complain about at all.
The longer-term prognosis is good too.
The Million Dollar Fish competition is set to run again from October this year to end February next year.
Given how many tagged barra recaptures there have been, even the biggest sceptics will concede that the dollars can be won.
Interstate anglers can travel up here with confidence in the knowledge that the tagged fish are not just pipedreams but real fish which can be caught.
With 11 days to go, the odds of the big one – the million bucks barra – getting caught are shortening by the moment.
If barra isn’t on your agenda this weekend, the blue water should be worth a shot.
Much as we’d like a mega monsoonal flow to cross the Top End, it simply is not going to happen for a while now, if at all.
The forecast is for winds around 10 knots this weekend, which is ideal for offshore fishing.
An area definitely worth a shot is the complex of artificial reefs on the Fenton Patches.
You don’t hear much about these nowadays, but I can assure you that some at least are loaded with jew and goldies.
Pick a change of tide and drop down some squid baits or Gulp Jerkshads on any one of the wrecks and hang on.

Ashley Enzanger with a silver barra from the lower Mary River.
Ashley Enzanger with a silver barra from the lower Mary River.

Terry Ryan with one of two metre-plus barra he caught in the one day at the mouth of Sampan Creek.
Terry Ryan with one of two metre-plus barra he caught in the one day at the mouth of Sampan Creek.