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FISHING With Alex Julius

“They came, they saw, they conquered”… immortal words first used to describe a crushing Roman victory at the Battle of Zela over 2000 years ago.
This week – in a much more friendly spirit of competition – an all-Queensland team came, saw and conquered the mighty Daly River in yet another exciting chapter of the Club Marine Insurance Barra Nationals.
It really was no surprise that Team Edge Rods from Mackay won this year’s Nationals.
Comprised of Craig Griffiths, Karim DeRidder and Wally Walton, between them, this trio has won just about every major barra event in Queensland, including the ABT Series and the Rocky Barra Bounty four times.
It’s not by chance that they are such consistent winners, and definitely not by chance that they won this year’s Barra Nationals.
Prior to the tournament, they spent days sounding out the river with their sophisticated Humminbird fish-finding electronics.
Nowadays, most of the top marine electronic brands offer outstanding side-imaging and down-scanning, with Lowrance, Simrad and Humminbird being the most popular.
Team Edge Rods member, Wally Walton, told me that during the prefish they looked at the banks and checked out standout features to see if there were fish there or not.
“Even if we didn’t find fish, we used our gut feeling and we’d go back if we thought the fish would be there eventually.
“One of us would always fish the same lures we knew would work and the others would try fresh stuff.
“We also fished hard bodies on the edges, so we took advantage of trebles wherever we could.
“We worked hard for them and we were lucky too that things went our way.
“We’re basically quiet blokes who love to fish and enjoy meeting other anglers,” Wally said.
A tradition of the Barra Nationals is that any new competitor is referred to as a “Barra Virgin” and is given a frock to wear at all times until he or she catches that first point-scoring fish.
There were anglers at this year’s Nationals who were still wearing a frock after doing so for the whole event last year.
Not so Team Edge: they each defrocked in the first five minutes of the tournament start, and Karim lost his frock on his very first cast.
Notwithstanding what in the end was a runaway victory, I must mention local Darwin team Samaki NT.
Comprised of Cameron Briscoe, Stephen Bennett and Matthew Bennett, this team was on fire for the first three days, leading by 12 points at the end of the third day.
In the end, Team Edge amassed a whopping 4276 points and, as runner-up overall and Runner-up Champion Local Team, Samaki NT racked up an impressive 3400 points.
Our own Team NAFA – Tim Pel, Melanie Ottaway and myself – had a lot of fun on the first three days, catching plenty of good barra up to 86cm, and holding 8th spot out of 70 teams.
However, as the tides got bigger, the currents became stronger and the water clarity all but disappeared where we’d been catching fish, we decided to stay downriver and not mix it with the dozens of boats working two specific areas upstream.
That was a team decision and, in hindsight, we should have mixed it with the majority of boats as some very big barra were caught on the last day in particular.
The other categories were:
•    Runner-up Champion Interstate Team (Barradise Boys – Jamie Ware, Greg Herdson, Jennifer Wilson) 775 points
•    Runner-up Champion Mixed Team (Team Reidys – Colin Burdon, Paul Zorn, Peter Price)1948 points
•    Biggest Barra – David Davidson 116cm
Although there was no category for the leading female angler, Team Sister Act’s Tanya Urvet would have blitzed it after catching a 95cm barra and a 106cm barra on consecutive days.
She scored 760 points and finished 15th of more than 200 anglers.
Once again, it’s hats off to Palmerston Game Fishing Club for pulling off yet another amazing Club Marine Insurance Barra Nationals.
Everything went like clockwork at the terrific Banyan Farm Tourist Park venue.
Club President and Barra Nationals Co-ordinator, Paul Williams, is a class act when it comes to this level of organisation, and it showed through with just how well the tournament flowed – both on the water and with the entertainment at night.
As well-known national fishing writer David Green explained it: “You just can’t describe the Barra Nationals to someone; you have to be there and experience it to know what it’s all about.

Team Edge Rods member, Wally Walton told me that during the prefish they looked at the banks and standout features to see if there were fish there or not.
“Even if we didn’t find fish, we used our gut feeling and we’d go back if we thought the fish would be there eventually.
“One of us would always fish the same lures we knew would work and the others would try fresh stuff.
“We also fished hard bodies on the edges, so we took advantage of trebles wherever we could.
“We worked hard for them and we were lucky too that things went our way.
“We’re basically quiet blokes who love to fish and enjoy meeting other anglers,” Wally said.

PHOTOS:
Melanie Ottaway barra
1.    Sunshine Coast’s Melanie Ottaway fished the Club Marine Insurance Barra Nationals for the first time in Team NAFA, and caught plenty of barra, including this 86cm ripper on a green Bomber.

David Daversion barra
2.    David Davidson caught the biggest barra: a 116cm fish which took a Reidy’s Big Ass B52.

Tim Pel Barra
3.    Tim Pel caught several barra on weendless softies.

Chamion team Edge Rods


4.    Top End Tackle World’s Steve Compain (left) with the winning Edge Rods team of Karim DeRidder, Wally Walton and Craig Griffiths.