Just how many moods does the Top End’s iconic Daly River have? I’ve been fishing the Daly since 1979, often in the early days for 10 or more extended trips in one year. I’ve been down there in picture-perfect runoff conditions with squillions of barra fighting over your lures at the feeder creek mouths. I’ve been down there in chilly dry season conditions with water temperatures at 22 degrees, a fog along much of the river, big bad salties sunning on the sand-bars, and the water a clear green colour with every barra earnt by time on the water and local knowledge. And I’ve been down there in massive flood – and massive monsoonal downpour too – wondering what the hell was I thinking. I could go on, as my love affair with the Daly has so many chapters, including the fabulous runoff of 1980 when I ran to the mouth with a couple of mates and stayed with a friend on a commercial barra boat. This was one of 22 barra boats working the river up as far as the cattle yards and down to the mouth and beyond. Those days, when the Daly was getting hammered by far too much gill-net (22km just quietly) are long gone, and since 1988 this beautiful river has been the domain of the recreational fishery. No better evidence of this is the 22nd Club Marine Insurance Barra Nationals, and I’m down here on the night before the last of five days of competition, writing my column instead of joining in yet another night of great entertainment and frivolity. But getting back to my point: I have never seen a Daly River in this mood. Throughout, there are sections of river playing the runoff game, while other stretches are worthy of trolling and flicking to likely spots, and add to this the largely absence of bait, and to top it off barra about as finicky as they can possibly get. I caught a 76cm barra this morning and I punched my arms in the air and yelled with joy. I haven’t done that in years, and never with a fish less than a metre. It just shows you how well I and my NAFA team have been faring! Actually, nearly everyone is commenting how “tough” this year’s Nationals is. But when you look at the scoreboard, you can see that it’s not that tough for some teams. Perhaps it points to that old adage: when the going gets tough, the tough get going. It’s interesting at the Nationals that the host Palmerston Game Fishing Club doesn’t post the results of the second-last day of competition, which means no one can be sure which team is leading, and by how much, going into the last day. Hopefully, the final results will get to my editor in time, and you may well be able to read them in a box somewhere on this page… bearing in mind that the last day of competition was yesterday (Wednesday) so will be hot off the press. In the meantime, I can report that after three days there are four teams with hardly 300 points separating them. 300 points is just one 95cm barra or two fish around 80cm each… or three fish in the low 70s. It’s not a lot, especially when any one of these teams could score double that in a day, or instead come in with a donut. Getting away from the fishing, it must be said that every one of the 186 competitors in the 62 teams seems to be having a wow of a time. The PGFC and its Barra Nationals committee must spend five zillion hours organising this slick annual fishing competition. Every night is full of great amusement, entertainment and reports from the stage. And you don’t dare make a mistake on the river, or in your boat, because you will be exposed from the stage that night… no one escapes. As for the catering, well old hands are good hands, and Wally and Kerry Draper have been running, and growing, the Banyan Farm venue for as long as I can remember, and they put on a sensational spread each night, with breakfast and lunch up there too. Then there’s the fuelling: every evening 62 boats get fuelled on the river from a fuel pontoon, or on dry land at a stationed tanker. It’s not over yet with a day to go, but I tips me cap to Palmerston Game Fishing Club, to co-ordinator Dallas Smith and his offsider Brendan Flynn, and to all those involved for making seven nights and six days on the Daly such an amazing experience, adventure and party for such a large and divergent group of both local and interstate anglers. If you ever get an invite to this one, you’d be crazy to knock it back. The Results are in! Champion Team TACKLWORLD REVOS: Shane Compain, Tynan Bartolo and Terry Ryan - 2629 points. Runner-up Champion Local Team Classic Lures: Trevor Robb, Neil Mello, Pat Tait - 2438 points Runner-up Champion Interstate Team On the Move Caravans: Lennie Mifsud, Jermaine Mifsud, Glen Smith - 1595 points Runner-up Champion Mixed Team Team Fusion: Michael Dickonson, Davo Davidson, Dallas Smith - 2039 points Champion Angler Michael Dickinson, TEAM FUSION - 1230 points Champion Female Angler Dani Walter, TEAM COBRA - 531 points Biggest Barra Daniel Mathieson, TEAM SAMAKI - 110cm PHOTOS: Classic Lures Team captain, Trevor Robb, powers up a hefty barra for Neil Mellon’s net. Rocky Edwards from Team Dead Fishy with yet another nice barra in competition. The Club Marine Insurance Barra Nationals is all about using the latest fish-finding marine electronics, the example here being Team NAFA’s Brad Woollams’ barra spotted initially as one of several at the mouth of Elizabeth Creek on the Daly. Cameron Briscoe with one of many barra caught by Team Samaki at this week’s Barra Nats. With minutes to go on the 4th day, Team Wenlock Warriors’ Mitch Camel (left), Dan Bromham and Dan Terry celebrate an 84cm barra that took them for a ride. Joint evening presenter, Courtenay Flynn, enjoyed fishing with locals at the mouth of Bamboo Creek where she caught this 66cm barra on a live bait.