The Top End Barra Series (TEBS) continues to power across our iconic barra waters. This now well-established competition has six rounds a year, nearly always on different waters. Always held over a weekend, the camaraderie of TEBS is second to none: teams seem as interested in rafting up overnight with sometimes more than a dozen boats side by side, with an on-water party right on the go, as they are at catching their five barras that will be eligible to enter. The third round this year was just held on the Mary River billabongs so anglers could fish the following waters: Corroboree Billabong, Hardies Lagoon, Mary River Bridge Lagoon and Shady Camp Fresh. According to TEBS Co-ordinator Ross Abraham: “A drop in temperature saw people rugged up on the water over both mornings and most definitely for those camped out during Saturday night. “The wind also was up on the weekend and this kept temperatures down during the day. “From reports that came in, it was evident that the bigger barra were not that interested in feeding in the cooler weather. “As was to be expected, there were ample saratoga, tarpon, sleepy cod and sooty grunter to keep anglers busy. “These fish along with cricket scores of sub-50cm barra helped pass the time for people. “Angler numbers were down in round 3 as it coincided with the long weekend. “When planning the rounds for 2017 last year, care was taken not to clash with noteworthy events such as Mother’s Day, footy grand finals etc,” Ross explained. “Unfortunately, the June long weekend slipped in unnoticed so, given the wide range of events on offer over the long weekend, it was good to see people making the effort to chase a fish.” It seems competitors were spread out across all four nominated locations. “The favoured fishing method was trolling the edges of weed beds, pandanus clumps and submerged stumps and branches that generally lend themselves to cover for an attack on unsuspecting prey,” Ross said. “Hard-body lures of choice for most were small Bombers, Reidys Little Lucifers and Classics. “Weedless soft plastics in a wide variety of styles and sizes were also cast amongst the weed beds to entice fish lurking there. “Notable catches over the weekend included by Chris Rutishauser, aka “the human banana”, with a pair of fish in the higher 60s. “The biggest barra for the weekend was captured by Jamie Cooper at 73cm. “James Park managed to bag his five scoring fish at Shady Camp Fresh in amongst the cricket scores of “rats” that plagued anglers. “Unfortunately, this is where the bragging stops,” Rossco explained. “As an indication to the severity of the fishing on the weekend, only 25 pointscoring barramundi were registered over the two days. “With the calibre of competitors and combined years of experience, this was certainly not an indication of missed opportunities, but more so the limited prospects. “The Billabong Round was taken out by Chris Rutishauser. “In second place was Jamie Cooper with James Park third,” Rossco summed up. The next Round of TEBS will be held in Darwin Harbour over the weekend of the 26-27 August. To me, it’s pretty obvious why there are nearly bugger all quality barra in our billabongs, and at the same time huge numbers of baby barra: the big wet season of 2016-17. Most of the bigger fish have escaped to tidal waters, ready to take up their roles in the barra breeding cycle. Meanwhile, millions of first-year barra are having the time of their lives in the billabongs, gobbling down rainbow fish and other tasties that also bred up through the wet season. Make no mistake about it: this incredible year class will be acknowledged for seasons to come. This time next year, there will be so many just under or just legal barra about, we’ll all be measuring madly. The following year, when they will all be 2+ barras, we’ll be having great sport catching mainly 60-65cm barra. Jumping ahead, in eight or so years, there will be more metreys in our rivers than ever before. Won’t that be something? PHOTOS: Chris Rutishauser with a respectable billabong barra that helped him take out round three of the Top End Barra Series.
Saratoga were on the chew in the TEBS round, and plenty were caught, including this one by Hugh Raeburn.
Jason Haack with another big saratoga from the TEBS round on the Mary River freshwater.