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Alex's Column 15 September 2023

Thanks to relentless blustery winds last week, the annual Territory Saltwater Fly Fishing Challenge was exactly that: a challenge.

Held by the Darwin Flyrodders on Bynoe Harbour, it never ceases to amaze me just how many fish are caught fly fishing in this grueling competition: 1117 fish this year.

There were nine teams of two competing with points awarded according to seven nominated species and a point per centimetre for all fish caught.

The seven nominated species are: barramundi, salmon, tarpon, queenfish, trevally and snapper (including mangrove jack).

Over the three days of the competition, if a team or individual catch three nominated species in one day, they score 500 bonus points.

For four fish, the bonus is 750 points; five fish get 1000 points; six fish get 1500 points and seven nominated species get 2000 bonus points.

Catching all seven species in one day by a team, let alone by an individual, is a rare event and is classed a grandslam.

In 24 years of the Territory Saltwater Fly Fishing Challenge, on only 15 occasions has an individual caught all seven nominated species in one day.

Number 15 happened on the first day of last week’s competition when diehard fly fisho, Roger Sinclair, bagged out.

Roger fished with Peter Cooke in team Chariots of Fly.

They began the first day looking for a barra.

“We fished a snag on the flats at Indian Island where we caught a barra on the practice day,” Roger said.

Roger caught his barra and also a small trevally and a snapper at the spot, so three nominated species were ticked off early.

“We hung around trying to get Peter a barra but no go so we headed along the Indian Island and stopped at Six Pack Creek to fish the rocks on the corner,” Roger said.

“We caught a couple more trevs and then we headed 50m up the creek and a terrific tarpon jumped on that went 47cm fork length.

“All fish were caught on the incoming tide and I had four species then.

“We thought we’d better try for a salmon so we went down towards Turtle Island and fished the Salmon Hole.

“There’s always someone in the Salmon Hole, and we caught a few.

“As I was then sitting on five species, we decided to head for Simms Reef to look for a mackerel,” Roger explained.

Ironically, before they left, Peter caught a little mackerel in the hole which gave the team seven species and a ‘slam as Peter had also caught a queenie.

At Simms, there was a bit of activity and the pair headed over to some splashes; 30 minutes later, Roger had his mackerel, giving him six of the seven species for his grandslam species; he just needed a queenfish to complete it.

“We headed to the end of Indian where there were birds buzzing around and I caught my queenie,” Roger told me.

“I wasn’t sure until it was near the boat and we netted it just in case,” he said.

Congratulations to Roger on achieving an amazing feat.

Runaway winners of the Fly Fishing Challenge were Glenn Hubble and Quinten Pope in team Territory Towelups.

Glenn reckoned it took 10 years of practice to finally get it right.

“We had a good-weather and a shit-weather plan,” Glenn said.

“We tried mainly to get fish numbers rather than species, and plotted a balance between species and numbers,” Glenn said.

They certainly got the numbers: 106 fish on the first day, 94 on the second day and 83 on the last day.

“We lined out on trevs the first day catching our maximum of 20 fish per species and then upgrading when a bigger fish came aboard.

“In this comp you need to work out where to be on weather and tide.

“Quinten tied a new fly and caught 42 fish on it before he lost it.

“The only barra I got was a barracuda at 78cm.

“Persistence and determination eventually got us there.

“A big thanks to previous and current club members who helped with fly fishing advice and now we’re in a position to help others,” the affable angler told me.

Results:

Champion Team: Glenn Hubble and Quinten Pope in team Territory Towelups.

Runner-up Champion Team: Robyn Gless and Shane McCarthy in team Two Casts.

Third: Tim Harding and Gavin Christison in Team Rantipole.

Champion Angler: Shane McCarthy.

Runner-up Champion: Glenn Hubble.

Third: Quinen Pope.



Roger Sinclair achieved a Territory Saltwater Fly Fishing Challenge grandslam. His grey mackerel was part of a remarkable one-day catch of seven nominated species on fly.



Glenn Hubble’s 78cm barracuda helped him and Quinten Pope in Team Territory Towelups win the Territory Saltwater Fly Fishing Challenge.



Winners are grinners aptly describes Quinten Pope holding a splendid fly-caught golden trevally.






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