Never in the 28 year history of the Corroboree Park Challenge has there been so much anticipation and excitement. Scheduled for this weekend commencing Friday evening, with the allowable fishing area being from the Mary River system all the way to and including the East Alligator River, I have no doubt that just about every competitor will be fishing Corroboree Billabong. The reason is that Corroboree has literally been going off at night with some truly big barra. Just in the last week or so, I’ve heard of four barra over a metre caught at the famous lagoon, including one that measured 116cm. Tackle World’s Simon Bochow caught one of these metreys: a beautifully-conditioned fish that measured 102cm. Simon was fishing with his dad Kevin and brother Shaun when he caught the big barra on a Strada 150. “We’d see balls of bait on the Simrad NS12, and some of them would have a barra sitting above them,” Simon told me. “So we’d troll up and down over the fish until we got a hit. “My brother lost another really big one just before I got mine. “Poor dad though copped it from the fish when it flicked up off the bottom of the boat and whacked him where the sun don’t shine. “Then it put a spine in his foot,” Simon said with more than a chuckle. One of the Territory’s great barra anglers, especially on the Daly, I suspect Kev is getting a bit slow in the boat nowadays. Another angler who has been enjoying great success fishing at night at Corroboree is Dallas Smith – well known to many as the affable co-ordinator of the Club Marine Barra Nationals. I’ve had plenty of chats with Dallas and I don’t think I’ve ever heard him so excited. “We had a ball last Friday and Saturday night,” Dallas said. “I’ve fished Corroboree for years, and lots at night, but I’ve never seen barra action like this before. “Big fish were schooling; it was freaky. “We trolled mainly Reidy’s Big B52s, but we had to work the fish at different depths as they moved up and down a lot. “There is so much bait in Corroboree, and you’d be trolling along, looking at your sounder, and the lures were hitting the bait when suddenly ‘Whack!’ as a barra slammed one of the lures. “These fish were mainly 83-85cm but when they hit the net in the dark you thought they were in the 90s because they were just so heavy,” Dallas said. Dallas fished with his wife Karen Priore Smith and son Braeden. “Braeden hooked a monster that broke a super-strong treble. “Back at the ramp everyone had stories of barra in the 80s, so there are a lot around that size in Corroboree,” Dallas said. Fishing and Outdoor World’s George Voukolos told me fishing guides were getting their clients on to great fish at Corroboree. “They’re doing night charters looking for one of the Million Dollar Fish and catching beautiful fat barra on big Bombers, Stradas and Classic 160s,” George said. If you were looking for an explanation for the presence of big barra in Corroboree, it can only be that the last couple of poor wet seasons didn’t flood the big lagoon enough to let those maturing male and female barra escape down to the Mary River’s tidal waters. If we get the promised good wet season this year, expect mayhem down the mouth of the Mary. This 29th Corroboree Park Challenge is an iconic family fishing competition which is open to the general public Hosted by the Palmerston Game Fishing Club, registration will take place at Corroboree Park Tavern at 5-8.00pm tomorrow and 7-10.00am Saturday. There is free camping at the tavern. In total, there are an incredible 18 prize categories, including plenty for the young male and female anglers in your family. But it is still very much a serious barra competition with over $20,000 in prizes up for grabs. Lines in tomorrow is at 5.30pm, and competitors can fish right through so long as they are queued up at the tavern with their SD card of fish photos by 3.00pm Sunday, with the presentation to follow shortly thereafter. Before signing off, I must write just how amazing it is that six barra have now been caught in Million Dollar Fish season 2. What a successful campaign this is turning out to be because word is spreading down south big time and there are anglers booking their flights right now. CrownBet has so far had to cough up $60,000 in prize money, but I understand its hierarchy is really seeing the value of underwriting this amazing tourism campaign. Best of all, it is a huge recognition on the part of Government and industry of the economic and social value and importance of recreational fishing in the Northern Territory. Good job. PHOTOS: Simon Bochow’s 102cm Corroboree barra – one of four over a metre to come from Corroboree recently – was caught on a Strada 150.
Watch out for Dallas Smith and family at the weekend’s Humminbird Corroboree Park Challenge… they’ve been ripping into big Corroboree barra at night using Reidy’s Big B52s.
Karen Priore Smith’s Corrobroee barra went 84cm.
Braeden Smith contributed to the Smith Family Corroboree onslaught.