FISHING With Alex Julius
Last weekend was a big one for fishing on two fronts: fishing politics and fishing in action.
At the AFANT AGM on Sunday, Attorney-General Natasha Fyles announced the well-received NT Government's back down on random breathalysing boat drivers.
She explained that the Government will now follow the WA model whereby boat drivers will only be breathalysed if they are doing something dangerous and there is a complaint or there is an actual incident.
AFANT President, Warren de With, commented that this was a smart move because police still needed the ability to test someone if they have broken the law.
The Attorney-General also announced the granting of $60,000 to AFANT to conduct an education campaign on safe boating, in particular the responsible drinking of alcohol whilst being in charge of a boat.
It’s a great resolution on what was shaping up to be a major issue at the next election.
It was good to see Federal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, our NT Senator Nigel Scullion, addressing the meeting.
He had his two bob’s worth on drinking on the water and was very much against random breathalysing boat drivers.
He also gave great news when he explained the recent Commonwealth legislation just passed which foiled the closing of the Coral Sea and other proposed greenie-led marine parks to fishing.
Finally, the big issue for NT Recreational fishers at the moment is the raft of Aboriginal land claims over the bed and banks of different fishing areas, including the lower Daly River.
Representing recreational fishing interests, and establishing the extent of detriment to anglers at these hearings is a monumental task for AFANT with its one fulltime and one part-time staff.
Minister Scullion announced a $100,000 grant to AFANT to present detailed cases on the detriment to anglers from claims on the bed and banks of the several important recreational fishing locations.
After such a positive address from the Senator, the comments from NT Federal Member Luke Gosling were disappointing to say the least.
Mr Gosling explained the Federal Opposition’s support for a Coral Sea marine park was to stop the super trawlers which are fishing there… which was a red herring if ever there was one as there are no super trawlers in the Coral Sea, nor anywhere else in Australian waters as they were banned in 2012.
Mr Gosling made no reference to the huge detriment to recreational fishermen from this and other proposed marine parks under a future Federal Labor Government.
He also alluded to Senator Scullion’s past history as a commercial fisherman, clearly in an attempt to score points of that disclosure at the meeting.
For the most part, commercial fishermen are not deemed to be enemies of recreational fishers nowadays.
There’s still some angst with the commercial barra fishery, but nothing like it used to be.
Nigel Scullion was once a commercial mackerel fishermen operating remote parts of the Arnhem Land coastline.
Interestingly, prior to his political career, he went into fishing tourism, operating a mothership for high-end fishing clients.
Top Darwin angler, Clint Jebbink, pretty well summed it up when he commented:
“I found Nigel Scullion to be very factual and showed an in-depth reason for all his comments.
“I can't say the same for Luke Gosling.
“His first words were ‘I'm not going to bang on about politics’, but that's all he did.
“Nigel spoke from the heart; Luke was only greasing axles,” the champion game fisherman commented.
There were several other excellent presentations at the AGM, not least of which was AFANT Executive Director David Ciavarolo's immensely-informative explanation of the history and the workings of Aboriginal land claims, how the Blue Mud Bay precedent is impacting on Territory fishing waters, and the several grants of waters yet to be made with detriment to rec fishing being part of the process for consideration.
On this latter, Senator Scullion offered relief to anglers with his clear understanding of the detriment issues, and he will have the final say.
Now on to the fishing in action that took place over the weekend, particularly down the Daly River where the second round of the Top End Barra Series (TEBS) was held.
TEBS co-ordinator, Ross Abraham (Rossco) said the tidal movement was falling off the springs, so the bigger fish were not as active as hoped.
“There is still water coming off the billabongs into the river in places.
“Travelling downstream was relatively easy and there was enough water to navigate safely.
“Most of the TEBS people scattered downstream as far as Clear Creek,” Rossco reported.
Alex Felsch had an awesome time down the Daly over the weekend.
He reported that his fishing partners pulled out late Friday afternoon, so it ended up a solo trip for him.
“I went to the top of Clear Creek and ended up with 121 fish and about 90 scorers over 50cm amongst them,” Alex said.
“I found there were some bigger fish sitting under the rats but, without a net person on board, I dropped a few bigger fish… That’s fishing, eh?”
Evan Dixon also fished up inside Clear Creek and commented: “There were a ridiculous number of juvenile fish up the top.
“We headed back to Croc Creek to set up camp and, while static fizzing in the current and eating dinner, I was nailed by an 82cm fish, and next morning Bruce picked up a scorer trolling a Classic,” Evan reported.
Rossco said that Kai Argent had an event-filled weekend: “It started with a dropped cell in his only battery on board and then snapping two rods while he stuffed around sorting out his pull-start cord.
“With no trim, a sounder that was cutting in and out from low voltage, and an electric motor that was barely able to pull the skin off a custard, his boat still caught fish,” Rossco said.
There were 189 fish over 50cm recorded, and about 400 fish captured all up. The only metery – a 102cm ripper for Daniel Hulbert – was caught on Friday night prior to the start of the round.
The biggest barra of 89cm was caught by Ben Maclean and the overall winner was Alex Felsch.
The top female angler was Sandie Dean and the top junior was Tom Grose.
1. Ben Mclean’s 89cm barra was the biggest caught in the Daly River TEBS round.
2. James Armstrong with a silver Daly barra from the TEBS comp.
3. Simon Bochow’s long history fishing the Daly paid off.
4. Crystal Neal’s 80cm TEBS barra was caught on a vibe.