Alex's Column 28/04/2022

The 2022 Top End Billfish Series got off to a good start with the capture, tag and release of 14 billies: 11 sailfish and 3 black marlin.

According to competition co-ordinator, Doug Saunders, it was a remarkable result given the adverse sea conditions the competitors had to deal with over the whole weekend.

“There were 14 boats in the comp and most of them raised fish while several caught billfish,” Doug said.

“Matty Barret’s boat, Smoking Billies, raised a pod of more than 12 sailfish, with the boat landing three sails and missing a micro marlin.”

Matty won the round with two marlin, narrowly beating Kurt Williamson in Ballissimo who caught a sailfish and a terrific 50kg black marlin.

Nate Saunders, 11, landed two sailfish and won Champion Junior.

“Our boat Meg II raised seven billfish,” Doug reported.

“There was lots of bait around but it was hard to see in the rough conditions; you had to find them on your sounder, although there were plenty of flying fish about.

“Not too many boats have been going out prior to the comp, but those who have been have been raising good numbers of billfish.

“The water was pretty clean out there and it can only get better for round two this weekend.

“It should be good if we can get some calm weather,” Doug explained.


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By all accounts, it’s been mainly tough going down the Daly River for the 40th NT Barra Classic.

The Classic is hosted by Darwin Game Fishing Club and, once again, this 40th anniversary tournament is being held from the delightful Banyan Farm venue.

During the first two days, nearly all the teams were struggling, with some teams still to catch a fish.

However, two teams have surged ahead leaving the rest of the field in their wake.

Shane Compain, his dad Steve and Cameron Briscoe in Team Tackle World scored an astounding 1775 points on the first day.

They were followed by the gun Queensland team of Craig Griffin, Karim de Ridder and Jon Millard in Team Humminbird/Edge Rods on 1140 points.

On the second day, the scores of these two strong teams reversed and Team Tackle World led by only 70 points.

Both teams were leading by more than 1000 points over any other team so it really is a two-horse race.

There were 286 barra caught on the first day and 214 on Tuesday.

Mainly the fish have been small, but the tides are getting bigger quickly in the second half of the Classic, so there might be a few big ones moving up the river.

The river is lower than normal for this time of year, and that’s definitely showing in damage to outboard motors and even boats.

Dave Silva from Team Venom was in Fishing and Outdoor World on Tuesday.

When quizzed as to why he wasn’t down at the Classic as he always is, he explained that his boat hit a just-submerged obstacle which tore the leg off and dented the big tinny.


It’s round 1 of the Top End Billfish Series, and Kurt Williamson’s tagged black marlin makes a last dramatic leap as Kurt draws it in for release.


Bridgette Rootsey releases a tagged sailfish in the first round of the billfish competition.


Rodney Mychas is never far away from billfish action out on the deep blue waters wide of Dundee.