The first real evidence of a river in revival mode occurred last week with the running of the annual Great Northern Girls Gone Fishin (GGF) competition on the Daly River.
A total of 51 teams competed in the three-day event held from the beautiful Banyan Farm Tourist Park.
Up to four female anglers can fish in a team, with the option of a male skipper.
It was great that nearly 300 barra were caught and released on the first day and over 600 for the whole competition… it means the Daly is back in shape.
Champion Team this year was Size Matters (Emily Melville, Kirstie Fairchild, Melita McKinnon and Skipper Daryl Melville) with 1780 points.
This team has finished in the top five since the GGF competition started in 2016.
Runner-up Champion Team was Reel Good Vibes (Ashlea Beckett, Bonnie Horne and Kalee Dodd) on 1750 points.
Melita McKinnon from the winning team said: “We did three days of pre-fishing and then worked extremely hard for the three days of competition.
“Early nights, early mornings and excellent team work all contributed to our win.
“We fished Elizabeth Creek, various runoff drains and back eddies at Harey’s Rock-bar,” Melita said.
Ashlea Beckett took out Champion Angler with an impressive 950 points, Runner-up Champion Angler was Emily Melville, and Kalee Dodd’s 92cm barra was the biggest for the comp.
“The Daly River has received some great rainfall this wet season and it showed with the number of scoring fish and a large number of fish under 40cm being caught,” Melita said. “There is a little bit of runoff left and hopefully this will remain for the next two big barra competitions to come: the Barra Classic and the Barra Nationals.
“The river is so alive at the moment which is so great to see after a couple of tough years,” Melita told me.
The NT Barra Classic kicks off next Monday down the Daly River, again from the Banyan Farm Tourist Park.
Hosted by Darwin Game Fishing Club, this is a tag-and-release event, and this year would have been the 40th anniversary had it not been cancelled last year due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
It’ll be interesting to see how many barra are caught in this five-day tournament, and that will depend on changing conditions.
Currently the Daly is still in runoff mode, and that will continue to a certain extent for the Classic; boats will be jostling for position at the best colour changes.
However, the potential for improving water clarity over the neap tides next week is very real, and that means trolling comes into play.
That would be the ideal scenario: a river clear enough to troll so the boats don’t have to fight for position.
I understand there has been a bit of clear water down the river, so fingers crossed for the competitors and organisers in this important event on the Top End fishing calendar.
The Great Northern Girls Gone Fishin Champion Team in action: Melita McKinnon nets one of Emily Melville's barra under the watchful eye of boat skipper Daryl Melville.