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Alex's Column 29 March 2024

I’m writing this on Tuesday this week so, unless the Million Dollar Fish has been caught late Tuesday or Wednesday this week, the countdown will be on until the last day of MDF Season 9 this Sunday.

There are now more than 80 barra each worth $1 million swimming around somewhere.

The reason one hasn’t been caught is surely attributable to the late, big wet season.

All the rivers have been flooding big time.

Starting from the east, the winding East Alligator River is not even accessible as Magela Creek crossing is still closed.

The South Alligator River is readily accessible, but it’s an inland sea up the top and the current is formidable.

Shady Camp and below is quite fishable but the Mary River has flooded to the point that the carpark went under water.

Finding one of the few tagged barra in the Mary system would be akin to finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.

We know there are Sportsbet tagged barra in the Adelaide River, but it too has been rising and falling, and rising and rising, and tagged barra may as well be extinct.

I’m not sure what’s going on at the Finniss River, other than only the first 5km is open to fishing.

Heading down to the mighty Daly River, all you’ll find there is serious flooding.

In fact, the powers that be are working overtime to try to get the public ramp open in time for Easter.

Next stop is the Victoria River where we know there are some MDF barra, but that’s still flooding and it’s a big, imposing waterway.

I’m not sure what’s happening at Roper River, but its lower reaches would be a nightmare to access before MDF Season 9 finishes.

There are tagged barra at the McArthur River, which we know because one has been caught there.

However, the McArthur had record flood levels and any tagged fish were probably washed away.

So what does that leave us this Easter if you want to have a serious shot at a barra worth a million bucks by midnight on Easter Sunday?

I reckon Darwin Harbour is the answer.

We know there are plenty of tagged barra in the harbour, and I reckon the rain will be gone over Easter.

It’s also worth understanding that the harbour is nothing like the big rivers which filled up and flowed across their floodplains, moving fish across vast areas.

The harbor arms would not have changed much in size and composition, in spite of all the rain.

Therefore, any tagged fish would likely still be in the general vicinity of where they were released.

The same goes for Bynoe Harbour where there are reportedly plenty of tagged barra.

A cruisy couple of days fishing inside Indian Island might just set you up for life.

If the Million Dollar Fish is not caught by midnight Sunday, it’ll be interesting to hear what the next announcement is, given that the $1 million will definitely be given away.

A likely outcome would be to simply extend the competition by a week or so, or even until that damn fish is caught.

Maybe a “Golden Point” type of finish might be the answer.

Personally, I’d love to see it caught by Sunday night.



Ian Jones has been visiting the NT for nearly two decades before finally catching his dream fish: a magnificent 106cm barra.



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