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Alex's Column 29 September 2023

As hard as it is to believe, we are about to begin the ninth year of Million Dollar Fish, and this time someone will win the million dollars.

On Sunday, once again, the NT News will be publishing its Million Dollar Fish lift-out magazine which will tell you everything you need to know about the competition, as well providing information and tips on some great Top End fishing spots.

MDF begins at midnight Saturday and no doubt there’ll be hundreds – if not thousands – of anglers plying both the freshwater and the salt in the quest for a Sportsbet-tagged barra worth $1 million.

There are now 10 of them out there, if they’ve all survived, including this Season 9’s $1 million fish.

Once again, there will also be another 100 red-tagged barra which were released for Season 9.

Most years, one or more red tags are claimed within the first 24 hours of this mega competition.

From a fishing perspective, it’s great that the Build-up season is now well and truly with us; it’s getting hotter and the humidity is on the rise.

To a barramundi, that means it’s time to party: get out there and gobble down everything you can and, if you’re big enough and old enough, find yourself a partner and start boogying.

Yep, the breeding season is upon us and barra will be congregating in the saltwater estuaries and river mouths to conjugate.

In the billabongs, hyped up freshwater barra will be waiting eagerly for the wet season and the opportunity to move down and into the saltwater.

Already, there’s improving action on inland waters.

In Kakadu, billabongs like Yellow Water, Home and Red Lily have been fishing well, both during the day and at night.

On the Mary River system, Corroboree Billabong has continued to improve, although more improvement in terms of fish size and numbers would be good.

Shady Camp Fresh is where to go if you want to engage with numbers of little barra – that freshwater section above Shady Camp barrage has been chockers with rats all year.

One lagoon in the Mary system worth checking out is Hardies.

It has yielded several red-tagged barra over the seasons.

In the salt water, Darwin Harbour continued to produce barra of all sizes for those who understand the fine print of fishing this close major waterway.

Plus the tides this Sunday could not be better for a harbour barra assault.

The same goes for Bynoe Harbour.

Both those locations are sure to have plenty of Sportsbet-tagged barra, and possibly even a $1 million fish.

On the other side of Darwin, the neap tides must have been perfect for Shoal Bay, judging by the reports I received of great fishing.

Barra to more than 90cm were caught inside and around the mouth of King Creek.

The famous Shoal Bay Rock fished better than it has for some time, although it’s still not producing the way it did before the big sandbar to its east expanded and narrowed the channel.

Much better though were the holes up inside Howard River, Little Howard and Tree Point Inlet in Shoal Bay.

All of the locations mentioned above will have fishing traffic from Sunday onwards as keen anglers go for the big money.

However, make sure you register first at

Registering will also give you a chance of winning a prize from the more than $50,000 worth that will be given away during Season 9.

There were 20 10K barra recaptures in Season 8.

It’s anybody’s guess how many there will be this year.

But one thing that won’t require guessing is whether the million dollars will be given away.

It’s already been announced that the $1 million will go off this Season 9.

We don’t know the mechanics of it yet; just that it is going to happen.

A hefty barra awaits tagging and release for Million Dollar Fish Season 9.

Ben Banks with his 95cm barra from a double hook-up at Shady Camp during the Top End Barra Series early this year.


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