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Alex's Column 30/03/2023

For the first time in—it began several years ago, a weekend round of the Top End Barra Series (TEBS) was held at the same location two times in a row.

This year’s first round was scheduled for the Daly River but was switched to Shady Camp due to heavy flooding down the Daly.

It blew a gale and rained cats and dogs that first round but, as I reported at the time, competitors still managed to catch plenty of great barra.

The weather was not an issue when competitors returned to Shady for TEBS round two: skies were blue and the winds were light.

However, according to Evan Dixon from TEBS, many competitors reported the fishing tough and the bite windows short.

“Anglers were spread across the Mary River system and Sampan Creek, Tommycut Creek and the Wildman River seemed to have produced most of the scoring fish,” Evan said.

“While anglers employed a variety of techniques to catch fish successfully, including traditional casting and trolling, the use of live imaging technology to target mature, tidal fish dominated once again.

“In my opinion, using this technology is the only way to be competitive in large river systems.

“This is supported by the list of top 10 anglers, who all employed varieties of this incredible technology,” Evan explained.

Amazingly, there were seven barra over a metre and more than 20 fish in the 90s caught over the weekend.

Ever-consistent Peter “Cuddles” Cooper fished on his own, overnighting in his 3.9m tinny.

“Fishing was good in periods with good numbers of juvenile barra in snags and drains on the cast, plus loads of metre-plus salmon,” Peter said.

“The highlight, however, was on the incoming tide and watching big fish appear from nowhere using the active live target imaging.

“With a bit more luck, I could have registered the dream five fish bag limit with five over the metre but, for some reason, the fishing gods said ‘not today’. “I dropped at least three metre-plus fish pulling hooks, straightening hooks etc,” Cuddles said.

He did manage to land a 105cm barra and a 117cm whopper which bent the net trying to lift it aboard.

Apparently Cuddles enticed the round-winning fish to bite after 20 minutes of persistent harassment… how crazy is that?

“There were also some interesting tales of bycatch over the weekend,” Evan reported.

“Jack Oswald bagged a 125cm jewie and a Queensland groper which took him around half an hour to subdue.

“Both threadfin salmon and blue salmon were thick in some places and provided some great entertainment and no doubt delicious fillets.

“A proud moment was watched by many as five-year-old Molly out fished both her mother, Tenielle Lockwood, and father, James Park, bagging herself several large models.

“It was another great weekend on the water for our competitors: raft-ups were plentiful, spirits were high and camaraderie was no less than you’d expect.

“All eyes now turn to Bynoe Harbour for round three.

“Will live imaging still reign supreme or will experience and knowledge of this expansive habitat prevail?” Evan asked.

TEBS Round Two results:

1st Peter Cooper

2nd Jack Oswald

3rd Tristan Christie

4th Ben Banks

5th Dwight Shepherd

6th James Mitchell

7th Jesse Rhatigan

8th Lachlan Markey

9th Benjamin Vidgen

10th Craig Grose

Top End Barra Series round two winner, Peter “Cuddles” Cooper, with his whopper 117cm Shady Camp barra.

Lachlan Mackey with one of seven metre-plus barra caught at Shady Camp in the TEBS competition.


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