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Alex's Column 2 February 2024

Before getting into the excitement of all the rain we’ve been receiving, I thought I’d touch on the unbelievable news that a further 12 previously-tagged barra have now each been upgraded to million dollar status.

Won’t that send the cat amongst the pigeons; Top End anglers and interstate visitors will be flocking to potential tagged-fish-carrying waters in their hundreds if not thousands.

There are now 24 ‘big ones’ out there – the most in the history of the competition.

Million Dollar Fish is run by Northern Territory Major Events Company.

CEO Suzana Bishop said someone is guaranteed to reel in a million dollars during Season 9, and the odds have never been better.

“We’ve kicked off 2024 with the most million-dollar fish ever and we are definitely giving away a million dollars this season, so there has never been a better time to visit the Northern Territory,” she said.

“This is a unique competition in a unique destination; nowhere else in the world could fishing change your life like this,” Suzana said.

 SportsBet NT Operations and Partnerships Manager, Thijs Bors, said there were just a few months of Million Dollar Fish Season 9 left.

“As the major sponsor of Million Dollar Fish, SportsBet is thrilled to be playing a part in making one lucky fisho a millionaire and helping dozens of others become $10,000 richer,” he said.

“With less than 10 weeks of Season 9 left, now is the time to register and get out on the water before it’s too late!”

Once a $1m fish is caught, all remaining fish, including those tagged at $1m, will become $10,000 fish.

Well, it’s hard to beat a good Top End wet season, and that’s what this one has turned out to be.

Only a week ago I was spruiking that the monsoon we had just had was great, but that it needed following up with more serious rain.

Well, that’s happened now and it’s been widespread across all our favourite big tidal rivers.

Over the last week, 200mm-300mm of rain has fallen on all the big river floodplains both east, west and south of Darwin.

One angler who always has his finger on the pulse in respect of the wet season at Kakadu is old mate Andy Ralph.

Andy has worked for Kakadu National Park, for the Northern Land Council running its Jabiru office and for various tourist organisations.

More recently, he’s gone freelance into land management, training and tourism.

Andy reckons the monsoon has finally gotten things moving out in Kakadu.

“As we await the Runoff, attention turns to the creeks and culverts that are totally pumping,” Andy said.

“There’s no doubt that the Jim Jim, Nourlangie and Magela Creek systems are the barometer for Kakadu’s healthy wetlands and subsequent Runoff barra season.

“Pristine water thunders off the Arnhem Land escarpment, bringing with it thousands of barra fresh from the billabongs heading straight for the Alligator Rivers… but first they must get past the anglers lined up at the Nourlangie and Magela Creeks.

“Jabiru fishos with itchy fishing fingers know that prime time on the Alligator rivers is probably still a month away, with the mouth of Nourlangie Creek on South Alligator River usually the first to fire up, so a quick flick after work this week has been rewarding for those willing to drive around various road-side culverts until they find barra on the bite,” Andy explained.

“But a word of warning to be Crocwise: while the lure of a metre barra from a culvert is insatiable to some anglers, the same goes for crocs because wherever there are barramundi, crocodiles are sure to be also close by.

“Care must also be taken when using the South Alligator boat ramp; the annual mud-bar is back, but hopefully will move downstream quickly with the river in flood,” Andy advised.

Although widespread across Arnhem Land, and more importantly from the East Alligator River down to the Victoria River, once again the Daly River has copped a rainfall flogging.

And how sweet it is that the Top End’s most-beautiful and iconic river is currently under a sea of water, with a height of more than 13m at Daly River Police Station.

The organisers of the Barra Classic and the Barra Nationals must be rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of great fishing in the Daly after the wet season.

Don’t forget also that the closed waters downstream of Moon Billabong outlet opened this week.

That means you can fish all the way down the river and to the mouth and beyond.

Around the mouth and along the coastal creeks is where there should be some good barra fishing because it is well below the torrent of floodwater further up the river.

Maybe that’s where a $1 million tagged barra awaits some lucky angler.

This sea of water is where Catherine Ralph caught a barra after work at the Nourlangie Bridges on the Kakadu Highway.


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