One thing is for certain following the running of the NT Barra Nationals over the last week: the Daly River has been the recipient of a major barra spawning this last Build-up and Wet Season.
The river is alive with juvenile barra which fisheries scientists classify as 0+ fish as they are less than one year old.
In turn, this means we will be able to follow this strong year class from one year to the next, and watch their growth with delight.
For example, in 2024, these fish will all be over 65cm and perhaps bigger than 70cm.
In 2026, we can expect a strong year class of 80cm-plus and even 90cm-plus barra.
By and large, the 2021 25th Anniversary Barra Nationals was a good one.
Competitors needed to catch fish after the appalling catches in the last event held in 2019 pre Covid.
I’m not sure of the total catch as I’m only just back from the Daly, but it was well into four figures.
As always, Palmerston Game Fishing Club, the Barra Nationals Committee and Tournament Co-coordinator, Paul Williams, did a great job hosting this world-class tournament.
Held on the beautiful Banyan Farm Tourist Park on the banks of the Daly River, competitors were not only treated to lots of fishing action – albeit from mainly very small barra – but the stage events, the food and the camaraderie were all up there too.
This year introduced a new point-scoring system whereby only the best three fish caught by a team each day go towards the team’s final score.
As well, whereas previously points were allocated according to length, increasing exponentially with size, in this event one centimetre in length was worth one point, irrespective of how big the fish was.
It certainly meant teams had to catch their bag of three fish each day to give them their best chance of winning.
To explain this another way, if a team caught a metre barra, it was worth 100 points.
However, if that team did not catch another fish that day, it would be beaten by a team that caught three 35cm barra.
There was much discussion about the new point-scoring system at the tournament and I’d reckon the opinions were divided equally.
It’s interesting that the number of fish that count each day may vary from year to year up to 10 fish depending on committee decision.
Another change this year was the awarding of the major winning teams categories.
Previously, there was a Champion Team, Runner-up Champion Local Team, Runner-up Champion Interstate Team and Runner-up Champion Mixed Team.
This year the award format was for Champion Team followed by second, third and fourth teams.
Clearly, this does recognise the actual best performers in numerical order, but there was plenty of robust discussion about it following the announcement on the Presentation Night.
Personally, I prefer the traditional awards structure, especially given the value placed on major Territory events attracting interstate tourists.
However, I do get it, and I know in previous years there have been teams which came third or fourth in overall scores and didn’t receive any recognition.
My Team NAFA had a great time, including with a bit of adventure, and it was wonderful to see the Daly River looking so healthy and fishy.
Champion Team: Humminbird (Grant Edwards, Shaun Clancy, Matthew Bennett, Jeremy Johnson)
Second: Happy Days (Darren Kenny, Ray Goodman, Daryl Melville, Aaron Walker)
Third: Just Trollin (Benny Cole, Simon Trelor, Liam Wilson)
Fourth: Fusion (Michael Dickinson, Daniel Dickinson, Stewart Odgers)
Champion Angler: Stewart Odgers
Biggest Barra: Simon Trelor 103cm
1. Tim Pel’s green Bomber lured this beaut 84cm barra in the Barra Nationals on the Daly.
2. Team NAFA’s Melanie Ottaway with a typical barra in the Nationals at 52cm.