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FISHING With Alex Julius

It’s good to see another BetEasy red tag go off in the current Season 4 of Million Dollar Fish (MDF).
Once again, the fish worth $10,000 was caught by a local angler: Travis Stevens.
It’s amazing that during the nearly four years that Million Dollar Fish has been running, not one single tagged barra has been caught by a genuine fishing tourist; local NT anglers have accounted for the lot.
Hopefully this year, with the extension through March, a lucky interstate visitor or two will score some loot with the capture of a tagged barra.
One area that will be heavily fished by interstate anglers right through March who have booked a fishing guide will be Shady Camp and the Mary River.
We know for sure there are tagged barra at Shady and below in the Mary River because that’s exactly where Travis caught his prized fish – he was actually fishing from the Shady Camp barrage.
“I’m a born and bred Territorian and have entered the comp every year since it started,” Travis said.
“I couldn’t believe it when I saw the tag. It went from very calm to a bit frantic and nerve wracking when I realised it might have been the Million Dollar Fish.
“I work on a remote NT mine with a heap of guys from Queensland who are always talking about wanting to catch a tagged fish.
“A heap of guys have actually come up to the Top End solely to go fishing to try and get the big one; I can’t wait to tell them!
“I’m going to share the money with my mate and I’ll probably spend most of the rest fixing up the boat, beers and more fishing,” Travis said.
The Department of Tourism and Culture’s marketing boss, Tony Quarmby, said: “With three months remaining, five $1 million fish, 97 of the $10,000 fish and 19 of the purple-tagged $5,000 charity fish are still out there, so there’s never been a better time to get out and wet your lines.”
BetEasy Strategic Partnership Manager, Brad Fanning, said there were more chances than ever to reel in a winner.
“We have released tagged Barra right across the Top End, with the charity fish all in really accessible locations; we want you to catch them!” Mr Fanning said.
“With so many tagged fish still remaining, now is the perfect time to book yourself a trip to the Top End.”
Given this Season 4 of MDF will continue right through March, I’m tipping this year the influence of MDF on fishing tourism visitation will be stronger than ever.
Mind you, the fact that there are five fish still out there worth $1million each can only add to tourism interest.
Of course, as I’ve written before, MDF has evolved into much more than a tool to stimulate tourism; it has generated a huge economic spin-off within the NT just by all the locals getting out there and chasing a red tag.
What we need now is some semblance of a good wet season so that we get a serious Runoff to follow.
I hear that ex-Cyclone Penny is turning around and moving north-west up the Queensland coast and inland.
Apparently, it may even cross Cape York and, once hitting warm water again in the Gulf, reform as a cyclone and cross over into the NT.
As long as it doesn’t do any damage, and delivers a few billion litres of water, we might just get our wet season.
If that happens, we’ll all be out fishing the Runoff and a lot more interstater anglers will head up this way.
Those looking to catch a Million Dollar Fish can register for free on www.milliondollarfish.com.au.


PHOTOS:

MDF
1 NT Tourism’s Tony Quarmby (left) and Travis Stevens with the latest Million Dollar Fish which was caught at Shady Camp and carried a red BetEasy $10,000 tag.

kim courtney barra

2. Towing a small lure from a kayak across open water, old mate Kim Courtenay scored a New Year bonus in the way of a beautiful sea-run barra.

tagged barra on mat

3. Now swimming happily in the Adelaide River is this 63cm barra which was tagged with a BetEasy $5000 purple charity tag.