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Alex's Fishing Column 14 November 2019

We’re now into Season 5 of Million Dollar Fish (MDF), and it’s interesting that there have only been two tagged barra caught that were worth $10,000 each: one from Manton Dam caught by Greg Fry and one from the McArthur River caught by Jamie McGuiness. Neither location has produced a red-tagged barra before, but even more interesting is that there have been six recaptures of MDF fish since 1 October when Season 5 commenced, and all of these barra were Season 4 tagged fish. I spoke with Info-fish’s Bill Sawynok who heads up the tagging program in the field, and he said it’s really hard to say why so many last season fish have been caught. “It’s quite common for tagged fish to get caught a year later,” Bill added. “But I would have expected we would get a couple more Season 5 fish caught by now because all of them were tagged and released in places where there’s every likelihood of a recapture. “The one down at Borroloola was a really good one because we’ve tagged fish there every year, and ironically there was a Season 4 fish caught there only two weeks before,” Bill told me. MDF major partner, BetEasy, underwrites this unique, major annual event. Brad Fanning from BetEasy has been involved from the start. “It’s great that a tagged barra from further away at McArthur River has been caught, Bill said. “There’s a good story to it because Jamie McGuiness caught his tagged barra on Melbourne Cup Day and the only reason he was fishing was because his wife and friend had gone to the Cup. “It’s slow compared to the first three seasons but, by Christmas Day 2018, we only had three 10K fish caught plus two charity-tagged barra; the year before we had 13,” Brad explained. “I’m very excited to have both Tourism NT and NT Major Events involved, and it’s great to have Mindil Beach Casino as a MDF hub with all the winners’ presentations done there. “BetEasy would like nothing more than to have one of the six barra worth $1million each finally caught; we’d celebrate it with a big party at Mindil Beach Casino. “I know for a fact that we’re the envy of both the Queensland and Victorian governments because of what Million Dollar Fish has done for the NT fishing tourism profile; for the way it has promoted the NT as a fishing destination. “Now we have NT Major Events on board which can look at the broadest economic stimulus possible,” Brad told me. If you didn’t know, NT Major Events is a registered company reporting to an independent board of directors. CEO Tim Watford said: “By Season 6, we’ll take over the property (MDF) in its entirety, with Tourism NT amplifying what we do, much the same as with the super cars. “When it was conceived, it was more of a tourism entity, but it’s turned out to be a local NT event as well as a tourism event. “We can branch out and look at the event as a whole picture – and not just tourism – and give it more agility to make it grow. “Basically, as a company, we have the ability to look at it more commercially. “We want partners on a national scale who are going to roll their sleeves up and have a bit of a crack, and help drive this promotion as a major international event,” Tim explained. “We’re excited and we want to leverage and capitalise on the good work Tourism NT has done to date, and make it bigger and better and appeal to a global audience,” Tim told me. My understanding is that the economic stimulus to the NT is close to $10m every season, and it has the potential to be worth a lot more. Can you imagine if one of those cool-million-dollar fish is recaptured? That would make international headlines, at least in fishing circles.

Michael Dickinson with one of six Season 4 Million Dollar Fish caught so far in Season 5.

Jamie McGuiness’ Season 5 red-tagged barra was caught in the McArthur River.

Barra have been tagged in Manton Dam which is where Greg Fry caught this one.


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