Alex's Fishing Column 29/4/21

Given the cancellation of the NT Barra Classic last year due to you know what, it was great that this year’s event held last week was a legitimate success.

Following a perfect wet season, everyone expected the Daly to fish better than it has for the last two years, and it certainly did.

Hosted by Darwin Game Fishing Club, the Barra Classic is held at the Banyan Farm Tourist Park.

This year, 55 teams competed in what is a catch, tag and release tournament.

Club President, Steve Roberts said: “We had a great comp that brought out new talent and teams into the mix.

“The leader board fluctuated through all five days, with the end result showing consistency and that sticking to a plan can pay dividends.

“Champion Team, Donate Life (Brad Mooney, Kel Payne and Tom Mooney), Team Bio Hazard and Pilbarians filled the top three spots, with Kel Payne catching a 98cm barra on the last day to rocket himself and Team Donate Life into the lead,” Steve said.

“The predicted and established teams were always in the top 10 but, as the river changed daily, those who could adapt and change strategy, and miss the emerging snags on the run, were the eventual success stories.

“The comp and river were very different from a fishing perspective in comparison to 2019, with barra feeding strongly on cherabin, combined with the influence of a falling and greening river.

“Big fish were sounded throughout the system, with the challenge being to entice the reactive bite,” Steve explained.

‘With 1045 barra captured, tagged and released in accordance with our scoring system (there are thousands of 35-38cm fish in the river), the results point to good stocks/results in the following years, especially if we get a follow-up wet season.

Capture results were a little below expectations; however, the fish caught were strong and fat, no doubt a result of increased bait and nutrient in the river,” Steve said.

I asked Steve what was the style of fishing that yielded the best results.

“Most teams opted to casting creeks, structure and tannin water, with the change of tides providing the best and most-consistent bite,” he explained.

“Trolling close to the banks rewarded some, with little action in the middle with the tides fished.

“On the whole, it was a good comp which was fished with a positive mood… and there were lots of smaller fish, sharks and catfish in the mix.”

With the Barra Classic done and dusted, the next big event is the NT Barra Nationals which kicks off tomorrow.

During the Classic, it was surprising that not one barra over a metre was caught.

That might change in the Nationals with the bigger tides.

I’m down the river now, having a look around before our Team NAFA competes.

I can’t believe how much bait has moved up with the bigger tides.

This year’s Barra Nationals has a brand-new scoring system: each team’s best three fish daily will comprise their score.

As well, every point will be equivalent to a centimetre in length.

This should bring a lot more teams closer together in the end result.

Hopefully, a few big girls will turn up.



A 98cm, Barra Classic Champion Angler, Kel Payne, caught the biggest barra in last week’s NT Barra Classic. Using a custom Halco Donate Life lure.