Alex's Column 10/02/2022

We’re now into the sixth month of Million Dollar Fish Season 7, and there are just seven weeks to go.

It’s been a good season for catching SportsBet red-tagged barra: 10 so far which was the total for Season 6.

However, the magical $1 million tagged barra continues to remain elusive, and that’s even though there are eight of them still swimming freely out there.

It’s amazing how many anglers are hitting the big rivers and estuaries, even during heavy monsoonal downpours.

The reason is that there is runoff happening.

One area that has been popular and is every chance of producing a SportsBet $1 million barra is Chambers Bay, which includes the Mary River, the Wildman River and all those fishy coastal creeks along the bay.

If you fly over the coast of Chambers Bay heading west during the Runoff,

you're likely to see boats parked at several creek mouths, in and around the

mouth of Tommycut and Sampan Creeks - which together form the Mary River

delta – and from the mouth to several kilometres upriver in the Wildman.

It's a phenomenon that started some 25 years ago... the boats got bigger so

they were able to travel along the coast further and, at the same time, the

barra caught increased proportionately in size too.

Fishing Chambers Bay is very tidal dependent, and varies according to the size

of the system.

Those two big tributaries of the Mary River – Sampan Creek and Tommycut

Creek – fish best on neap tides as the bigger tides lead to water discolouration.

The best times to fish these locations are during breaks in the wet season and

during the Runoff, so the timing is perfect during this latter stage of Million Dollar

Fish Season 7.

The respective mouths of these big systems invariably get the most fishing

attention, and it's nothing for more than 60 boats to be trolling in and out of

the mouth of Sampan Creek.

The best time to do this is during the making tide; barra often hitch a ride into

the creek with the tide, and the action can be red hot, at least for an hour or

two.

Conversely, those little coastal creeks can really only be fished on the bigger

spring tides due to access issues.

There are mudflats to be crossed, and a fast-rising tide provides the

opportunity to get into a coastal creek mouth and prop there or move further

up the creek, tying off to the mangroves.

There are four significant coastal creeks along Chambers Bay either side of the

Mary: Marsh Creek to the west, then Thring, Carmor and Love Creek to the

east.

Understand too that it's very tight fishing at these coastal creeks, and often

you'll be fishing around individual mangrove stands.

You need robust tackle: a quality reel with an ultra-smooth braking system

because you'll have it cranked up, a fast-action, heavy-weight barra rod,

upgraded trebles, at least 24kg braid lines and minimum 33kg leaders.

An outfit like this is also ideal for chucking around those mandatory big

Bomber and Reidy's hard-body lures.

In recent years, anglers have been travelling even further afield to the

Wildman River which borders Kakadu for the first few kilometres then snakes it

way right into the national park.

You get there either by launching at Shady Camp or, road conditions and tide permitting, launching at Stuart Tree Fishing Camp.

The Wildman can fish pretty well during the Runoff too.

If the Million Dollar Fish is not caught within the competition timeframe, all eight Million Dollar Fish will remain active post competition from 1 April 2022 to 30 September 2022, with the first to be caught awarding the participant $1million.

The cash prizes are provided by the naming-rights partner SportsBet.

In addition, over $61,000 worth of prizes are up for grabs.

Just by registering, you will have a chance to win one or more prizes which will be drawn throughout the season.

However, entrants must have registered on the Million Dollar Fish website and comply with the Terms and Conditions before presenting any claim for a tagged-fish cash prize.


Geoff Doig with a tidal river barra worth smiling over