Alex's Fishing Column 19 December 2019
In what is wonderful news for the Top End angling community, it’s now official that the iconic Kakadu Klash barra tournament will be on again next year.
This famous event has been taking place for nearly 30 years and is the first leg of the trifecta of big barra tournaments – the others being the Barra Nationals and the Barra Classic.
The apparent end of the Klash was tied in with the closure of Aurora Kakadu Resort a few months ago.
The old pub ran the tournament, so no pub, no Kakadu Klash.
It left a lot of Top End, and interstate, anglers disappointed because for many it was their favourite barra comp.
The three-day format and the winning team judged by the highest total length of a team’s three best fish caught on each of the three days made it a real trophy hunt, and a genuine team event.
So, in what to many may be a most-unlikely scenario, the salvation of the Kakadu Klash has been thanks to Parks Australia itself, which has now taken over the organisation and running of the tournament.
Parks Australia has responsibility for several Commonwealth National and Marine Parks, including of course Kakadu National Park.
The Director of National Parks is Dr James Findlay, and I spoke to him about Parks Australia’s drive to make sure the Kakadu Klash didn’t fall over.
“We fully understand that the reason so many people come to the NT is to go barra fishing,” Dr Findlay said.
“We know that recreational fishing, and in particular barramundi fishing, contributes to the NT, and we believe Kakadu National Park can play a major role in that.
“We recognise this world heritage park is iconic both nationally and internationally, and barra fishing is one of the reasons for that.
“It’s part of our DNA in managing the park.
“We have support from the Kakadu Board of Management which has representation from all the senior TO groups, and we’re committed and locked into running the next Kakadu Klash and then for another two years.
“Hopefully, there’ll be a commercial entity able to take it on after that,” Dr Findlay explained.
Many of you would know the affable Andy Ralph, that bubbly, mad-keen Jabiru fisherman who occasional slips me reports for this column.
Andy works for Kakadu National Park, and has strong connections with many traditional owners, and locally-run businesses in Jabiru, as well as the park’s social and sporting bodies.
Good news is that Andy has been appointed co-ordinator of the Kakadu Klash.
There is also a steering committee comprising Dr Findlay, Brant Smith from Parks Australia, Tony Quarmby from the Aurora group, Dallas Smith who has co-ordinated Barra Nationals and yours truly.
So let’s get down to a few details.
The 2020 Kakadu Klash will be held from 1-5 April, with the fishing days being 2-4 April.
For the first time, the event will be held on both the South Alligator River and the East Alligator River.
The lower boundary on the South has been extended to include Little Brooke Creek, and the lower boundary on the East will be 100m below the mouth of Second Magela.
Given how narrow and treacherous the first few kilometres down from the boat ramp at the East Alligator are, there will be a pre-sunrise slow zone to below the major rock-bar about 5km downstream.
Marshalling will be done by Kakadu Park rangers.
The cost per team to enter will be $2000 which is $100 cheaper than last year and will include all meals at the Mercure Crocodile Hotel in Jabiru.
Discounted accommodation is available for competitors at The Croc, Aurora Kakadu Lodge and Anbinik Kakadu Resort.
The first prize for the winning team over three days will be $10,000.
A great new prize is $2000 which will go to the team that catches the biggest barra each day.
This will give teams that are out of contention after the first or second day something serious to still fish for; they’ll still be in the hunt.
Invitations have gone out to all the teams which competed last year, so the field will be about 40.
So there you go: the Kakadu Klash lives on, and it’s a very big thank you from the Darwin angling community to Parks Australia and Kakadu National Park management for making this happen.
It’s the early 1990s and a big one comes aboard in one of the first Kakadu Klash tournaments. Left to right: Peter Grigg, Peter O’Sullivan and Ron Harris.
Raphael Bickle’s big golden snapper was one several caught in a hot session at the Arnhem Land Barra Lodge.
Bruno Barbitta’s 102cm chunky barra was a great estuary build-up catch.