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Alex's Column 19 April 2024

Today is the last day of the Barra Nationals and, if the first two days are anything to go by, the fishing should be extraordinary.

Some beautiful barra were caught early in the week.

Not surprisingly, Shane Compain’s Tackle World Revos team has been right in the mix.

There were three metre-plus barra caught on Monday, including a slapper 120cm fish, and Shane personally caught all three.

Just about every boat competing has forward facing sonar, which is why so many quality fish are being caught.

However, the river has also been doing its bit.

I was down the Daly last week doing a NAFA Apparel Shoot and the river was falling from 7m to 3m at the Daly River Crossing.

This was after it rose a metre and thus the flow from most of the feeder creeks was an opaque grey colour.

You could see fish with the Active Target but they appeared to be feeding on ultra-small baitfish and mainly showed no interest in traditional barra lures.

Mind you, we did catch some nice fish, and the shoot was a great success.

We left last Thursday just as the 50-odd boats – which were checking out the river prior to the Nationals – were reaping the benefits of a fast-dropping Daly River.

With the river down to 2m, it seems that it only got better after that.

On Sunday, the first day of competition, there were 621 barra caught, measured and released.

On day two, there were about the same number captured.

It does beg the question: why aren’t there any red-tagged barra in the mix?

Of the 101 barra tagged and released for season 9, 80 have been upgraded so that 81 of these fish are each worth $1 million.

We know for a fact that plenty were released into the Daly.

As I write my column on Tuesdays, it’s possible that one of these 81 fish will be caught prior to publication, but it’s not looking that way.

In considering why a $1 million Sportsbet-tagged barra hasn’t been caught, my view is that the massive wet season we just experienced has moved all the tagged barra a long way from where they were released.

In other words, they are incredibly spread apart.

Another theory that I heard is that the majority of these tagged fish ended up as shark bait.

Hopefully, as the rivers, billabongs and estuaries settle at their dry season levels, one or two of these fish will surface.

It must be so frustrating for the organisor, Major Events Company NT, and Million Dollar Fish partner, Sportsbet, as they have made it abundantly clear that they want to give away $1 million.

Also being discussed a fair bit by anglers out there trying to catch the “one mil” fish is what sharing arrangements if any should be adhered to just in case it happens.

Most people agree that it should be shared equally.

I know the four on my boat last week all agreed that 250K each would do nicely.

Roxy Woolley’s Daly River barra fell to a well-placed Classic 6+ lure.


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