FISHING With Alex Julius
It’s hard to believe that the Top End Barra Series (TEBS) has been around for eight years.
This great event is held over weekends six times a year at different locations each time.
The first event is always held at Shady Camp with competitors able to fish from Marsh Creek to the Wildman River and places in between.
That first event in the series was held last weekend.
According to TEBS co-ordinator, Ross Abraham (aka Rossco), typical of this time of the year, Shady carpark was full and overflowing with both competitors’ and non-competitors’ rigs.
“The new ramp facility at the barrage with its dual lanes makes getting in and out an effortless process,” Rossco said.
“The water has dropped quite a bit at the barrage but there were no issues navigating downstream, although there are some shallow patches starting to show.
“When our crew arrived at the mouth of Sampan Creek, it was evident that the bulk of boats had opted to stay in the system and people were either trolling the mouth or casting around the snags and mudbanks.
“We decided to head over to Tommycut and found much less boat traffic there.
“The weekend weather was generally fine and sunny and, apart from some rough seas for those who ventured east to the Wildman on Saturday, the wind was kind,” Rossco reported.
“From reports coming in, the fishing was a bit hit and miss on Saturday, but it improved on Sunday.
“It is hard to pick the dates for the first TEBS round each year, and trying to match reasonable tidal movement with an unknown Runoff scenario is problematic.
“There were some good reports from those who fished the Wildman River and other coastal creeks over that way.
“Some good barra were caught and several boats managed to get large numbers of fish.
“There seemed to be no regular pattern as to what attracted fish to attack. “Soft plastics, hard bodies, big lures and small lures all caught fish.
“Reidy’s B52s and the bigger Bombers accounted for some good fish, and we used Classic 10s with success, opting for small soft plastics as the tide dropped,” Rossco said.
“Other competitors reported that vibes were working for them; it is little wonder that the tackle shops do a good trade just before a TEBS event.”
There may have been not much change out of 100 boats on the water during TEBS but, apparently, there were only two fish over a metre recorded: a 102cm barra caught by Alex Felsch and a 101cm caught by Dwight Shepherd.
Rossco told me he had firsthand experience on Sunday of just how powerful a big, fit barra can be.
“At least we saw it before it powered upstream leaving me little line to do much with,” Rossco lamented.
“The fish decided to help me by cutting my leader off on a snag; it happened so quickly, I was left a bit stunned.”
There were 191 barra over 50cm recorded for round one, an increase over last year.
This included plenty of barra in the 70-90cm range.
TEBS only scores barra over 50cm, but there were many under that size caught.
Several Queensland groper were caught on lures over the weekend.
These great fish have been giving anglers a workout for the last month now at the mouth of Sampan Creek.
This first TEBS event was won by ever-consistent Shane Moon who had a great five-fish catch of barra measuring: 96cm, 93cm, 91cm, 82cm and 77cm.
Not far behind were Peter Cooper and Alex Felsch.
On a different note, what’s the weather doing for crying out loud?
Not even the Bureau of Metreology is quite sure as there are several different models, some predicting a cyclone and torrential rain while others show the weather clearing by the weekend.
As long as it’s not a damaging cyclone, the accompanying rain would be welcome, if only to add to the rain we’ve had so far this amazing wet season.
Old mate George Voukolos at Fishing and Outdoor World is beside himself with excitement.
“Alex, did you know that the Mary flooded to over the top of the public toilets at Corroboree?” He asked me.
“That should clear everything out and Corroboree should go crazy this year.”
I hope he’s right because, given the pummelling the Mary River system has been given these last two or three decades by the irresponsible building of earthen barrages blocking the flow from feeder creeks, a massive flood might just help rebuild the barra stocks in this once-mighty river system.
Conversely, it might just let a whole lot more barra swim onto the floodplains, and then fall back into channels behind the barrages as the floods dissipate.
Any fish that do that will surely perish as the channels dry up later in the dry season.
It’s not a new scenario.
1. Sandy Dean’s 97cm barra was one of the biggest fish caught in TEBS round one at Shady Camp.
2. Given the water colour, Dave Freak’s TEBS barra appears to have come from up inside the river.
3. James Park with a solid barra from the TEBS weekend.
4. There were a few fish caught in the 90s, including this 93cm barra for Leonie Cooper.
5. Queensland groper have been jumping onto barra lures at Sampan Creek mouth over the last month… Evan Dixon with a spectacular juvenile.