The iconic Club Marine Insurance Barra Nationals gets under way on tomorrow when 62 teams of three hit the water for the official Orientation Day, followed by five full days of competition. Hosted by the Palmerston Game Fishing Club, this will be the 22nd annual Barra Nationals, and once again it will be held on the treacherous yet beautiful Daly River. As always, the venue will be the Daly River Banyan Farm which is operated by Wally and Kerry Draper. I’ve fished the Daly three times over the last six weeks, and each time it has been in flood. My last trip there was a couple of weeks ago when the river was about 2.5m over the crossing. Since then, it dropped a metre but then rose again with the recent heavy rains from the low that didn’t quite develop into a cyclone. Last Sunday it was 2.3m above the crossing and steady. I anticipate that, by this weekend, it will have dropped up to a metre. On my last trip, we found it hard the first day because nearly all the feeder creek mouths downriver were occupied by one or more boats. We managed only about half a dozen barra, but the second day we travelled a great distance and found a little honey hole which fired up nicely. I noticed then that the river was beginning to settle and clear, although subsequent rains have impacted slightly on that scenario. As she does every year, Rocky Edwards has been down the Daly sharpening her skills and sussing out the river. Rocky has been Barra Nationals Champion Female Angler on several occasions, as well as a member of the Champion Mixed Team last year. A regular contributor to NAFA magazine, Rocky knows how to string a few words; and somehow she made time between fishing sorties to send in the following report: “I headed for the Daly River early last week to pre fish for the Barra Nationals and to orientate myself to the dynamic Daly River after what has been a healthy wet season. “The river is looking good with some green water appearing downstream and, with stories of some good and plentiful barra being landed, it was certainly exciting. “After a late start to our second day of fishing, we cemented a new track and missed the last of the incoming tide. “I had heard that one of the Daly’s many rock-bars was fishing well, so my plan was to get there and see if there might be some fish still hanging on it. “It was the start of the outgoing tide and, as luck would have it, I marked a good fish on my first troll. “Moments later, I had hooked it and I immediately knew it was a lifter. “This fish hit hard and made a short run, tiring fast. “It was a quick retrieve and it was especially exciting that my crew member, Nick Wells from Tamworth, was on his virginal trip on the Daly and did a great job netting a beautiful 101cm barra. “Nick went on to land a 72cm fish as his first NT wild-caught barra. “Competition stalwart and Daly River legend, Dave Silva, landed a 78cm which was the best of a dozen his boat landed. “The river has fished well until some recent downpours that were the tail end storms from Cyclone Debbie. “Regardless of the rain, the Daly is still looking good and should shape up well for the Barra Nationals that commence on 22 April.” Apparently, the river has continued to clear as we move well into the neap tides. However, Barra Nationals Co-ordinator, Dallas Smith, is wary about making predictions. “As long as there is no more heavy rain, hopefully it will be a good tournament,” he told me. “The water has been clearing downriver, but last weekend boats were struggling. “I think the fishing will be both runoff and trolling, but I would have liked to see more bait when I fished last weekend. “At least there have been a couple of metreys caught, including a 123cm fish, and, no matter how good or bad the fishing is, the Palmerston Game Fishing Club has done all it can to make sure this year’s Club Marine Insurance Barra Nationals will be one heck of a fun event to be part of,” Dallas said. PHOTOS: Rocky Edwards with a chromed 101cm barra she caught whilst checking out the Daly River prior to the Club Marine Insurance Barra Nationals.
Daly River veteran, Dave Silva, has been checking out the Daly, and finding fish using the Zerek Tango Shad 89.
Tamworth’s Nick Wells first Daly River barra was a plump 72cm fish.
Nick Politis (left) of Daly River Barra Charters, helps Melbourne’s Bill Johnson with his fish of a lifetime: a magnificent barra that measured 123cm.