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Alex's Column 21st July 2021

It’s been a tumultuous couple of years across Australia.

For the Territory, lockdowns to other states have been all too common, and there has been a near-week-long lockdown within the NT.

From a fishing perspective, it’s had little impact on where and how local Territorians fish. The world has been our oyster in that regard.

However, if you’re a Top End fishing guide, or operate a fishing lodge or mothership, it has been a real rollercoaster ride.

While NT borders were open to interstate visitation, the NT fishing tour industry had been going gangbusters for the obvious reason that Australians haven’t been able to venture overseas, and won’t be for a while yet.

Therefore, a guided fishing trip to the Territory was elevated up the bucket list for so many frustrated interstate travelers.

However, the slide down the roller rail has been when the NT has locked out interstaters from hotspots like Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and several large regional centres.

It’s happening now and it’s been necessary to isolate the NT from Covid, but it’s hurt the fishing tour industry through cancellations, refunds and deferrals.

The fishing travel rollercoaster will continue to have its peaks and troughs, but one thing that we know has helped significantly – and will continue to do so – is the ongoing Million Dollar Fish campaign.

Million Dollar Fish Season 6 finished at the end of last March, and it has reaffirmed the Northern Territory’s reputation as Australia’s premier fishing destination.

Independent research shows MDF Season 6 generated an economic benefit of $11 million to the Top End, and $41.3 million across the Territory.

Close to 29,000 people registered for Season 6, and almost 25,000 fishos actively participated in the competition.

MDF attracted over 20,200 interstate visitor overnight stays to the Territory.

Almost 70 per cent of Season 6 visitors to the Territory indicated they were very likely to return for the next season of the competition; they’re more likely to do so anyway with international covid travel restrictions.

Million Dollar Fish is reinforcing that the Top End is open for business in summer and delivering world class tourism experiences.

NT Minister for Major Events, Natasha Fyles, said: “The results from Million Dollar Fish Season 6 are an overwhelming endorsement of this iconic competition which plays a vital role boosting our lifestyle and economy to the tune of more than $40 million.

NT Minister for Recreational Fishing, Paul Kirby, said: “We have definitely hooked a winner with our Million Dollar Fish competition.

“Recreational fishing is a huge part of the Territory lifestyle and, because you can fish here all year round, it attracts thousands of visitors and creates hundreds of jobs.

SportsBet External Affairs Manager, Brad Fanning, said: “SportsBet is thrilled to be the naming rights sponsor of an initiative that is delivering so many benefits to the Territory.

“It is fantastic these impressive results have been confirmed as we are busy preparing for Season 7 to be another bumper year, both for fishos out on the water trying to catch a tagged barra and for the Territory as businesses reap the benefits of so many people signing up for this unique competition,” Brad said.

Don’t forget there are seven barra swimming in Territory waters which are each worth $1 million, and that’s even if you catch one out of season.

The tag numbers are:

· S1-MDF1469

· S2-MDF2656

· S3-MDF3556

· S4-MDF4540

· S4-MDF4663

· S5-MDF5501

· S6-MDF6474

Million Dollar Fish Season 7 returns on 1 October 2021 and will run until 31 March 2022. Registrations open on 1 September 2021.

For more information, go to or follow Million Dollar Fish on social media.


There are still big barra at the Daly River: the Noble family (mum Jo, dad Richard, 10-year-old Dan and older brother Allan) with Dan’s whopper 113cm barra caught on a Reidy’s Big Ass B52 fishing with Mousies Barra and Bluewater Charters.


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