The announcement last week that the participation rate of women who go recreational fishing in the NT has edged out the men coincided with the annual Secret Women’s Business Barra Challenge at Corroboree Billabong.
The recent national survey of recreational fishers reveals that 33% of women go fishing in the NT compared to a national average of 17.8%.
NT Men who go fishing also lead the nation with an overall, nation-high participation rate of 32.7%.
SWB is one of several big, all-female fishing competitions in the NT, and there’s no doubt these major events contribute significantly to the annual female fishers eyebrow-raising, high-participation level.
Run by Palmerston Game Fishing Club, the SWB Barra Challenge commenced in 2006 and this year 192 competitors in 56 teams fished the two-day event, which is simply awesome.
This SWB was a real nail-biting finish, with ever-consistent Team Skirts Ditch’N Work (Melita McKinnon, Tash Rammers, Helen Stuart) winning by just one point from Silver Caviar (Kelli Carroll, Emma Harvey).
Unbelievably, third-placed Dirty Oars (Johanna Clark, Louise Johnston, Melissa Krollig) were only two points further back.
According to SWB co-ordinator. Kristen Noble: “The Skirts didn’t realise they’d won and just sat at the table when their name was called out.
“It took them a while to come to the stage as they were in shock,” Kristen said.
I spoke to Tash Rammers who said that flicking for saratoga was the basis of the team’s game plan.
Saratoga are worth half the points of barramundi but at times are easier to catch in numbers in Corroboree Billabong.
“The ‘toga definitely weren’t easy; Silver Caviar and our team caught nearly half the ‘toga in the comp,” Tash told me.
“Our saying was have a drink and let it drop as the togas were down deep this year.
“We fished down the bottom end of the billabong and also in the Rockhole.
“Helen fished with fly rod as well and caught one ‘toga on fly, so she did well because it was really hard to fish fly with the wind,” Tash said.
Melissa Krollig was a convincing Champion Angler, targeting barra successfully.
“It was a beautiful moment as Mel was a founder of SWB with Jo Clark back in 2006,” Kristen explained.
De Coates caught the Reidy’s biggest barra at 82cm and was Runner-up Champion Angler.
Kara Dargan caught the biggest saratoga at 61cm.
“There were 62 barra and 120 saratoga caught, which was more than last year,” Kristen said.
“I expected the catch rates to be lower, although there were a lot of anglers who didn’t catch.
“The comp had a really positive vibe, something that was repeated amongst the competitors and came back to me.
“There were 12 new teams, some of which had never fished without a male skipper… the feedback was how confident and empowered they felt.
“One girl backed a boat down for the first time,” Kristen said.
“One of the things about SWB competitors is that their normal priority is often their family, and they don’t have time to go out and get time on the water.
“SWB gives them that.
“I have to say the marshalls rallied so well once again, and the Corroboree Park Tavern venue was amazing as always.
“It was pretty windy so the fly-fishing girls felt it.
“Tracy Byron in Team Deceivers was top fly-fishing angler, mainly with ‘togas.
“The mornings were cool with poor visibility due to mist, but the days were hot.
“All up it was a fantastic ladies competition,” Kristen said.
Melita McKinnon, Helen Stuart and Tash Rammers in Team Ditch’N Work were nail-biting winners in last week’s Secret Womens Business Barra Challenge.
Melissa Krollig was Champion Angler in the SWB comp, catching five barra.
De Coates, fishing with Tiina Moyle and Toni Stehbens in Team Just A Few, caught the biggest barra in SWB, an impressive 82cm fish.
Emma Harvey and Kelli Carroll in Team Silver Caviar were Champion Runner-up team, just one point behind the winners.