It didn’t surprise me that the majority of anglers did it tough during the first round of the Top End Barra Series (TEBS) held last weekend from Shady Camp. I was there last Thursday with Brad Woollams and Rocky Edwards, and it was a slow day for us, and for many others we spoke to. We were one of a few boats with just one barra, whilst most others had zilch. According to TEBS co-ordinator, Ross Abraham, competitors could fish the Mary River system through to the coast and from Marsh Creek to the Wildman River. “Included in the competition was the Mary River Bridge Lagoon and the freshwater side of the Shady Camp barrage,” Ross said. “Surprisingly, the boat traffic was not that heavy over the weekend. “It seems that the Finniss area attracted most people given the media reports of the numbers of people out there. “As usual quite a few people took the option of going to the comp early and a number travelled to the Wildman on Thursday to get in a pre-fish and camp there for the weekend. “Over the weekend, the wind was an issue, as were the brief but wild storms which made travel somewhat uncomfortable, even across to Tommycut. “Those who made trips further afield made the most of lulls between storms to stay dry and travel more safely,” Ross reported. “The bulk of smaller boats chose to fish the Sampan system. “Fishing was quiet for most people and, as is typical this time of the year, the fishing is either hot or not. “There were many stories of long hours between fish strikes and then some short periods of good action over the weekend. “There are good numbers of barra in the various systems but the lack of good schools of baitfish generally meant that fishing was tough. “We have great technology on boats these days but it is frustrating to see big barra on the sounder that are typically not feeding. “Numerous lure changes to match the depth of cruising fish and different trolling speeds sometimes produced the goods but it was slow going overall. “There were the usual big schools of catfish at times and unfortunately it was a case of ‘you should have been here yesterday’ if you were looking for bigger Threadfin,” Ross said. “Barra were caught casting to upstream feeder creek mouths in Sampan and Tommycut. “Using vibes and deep lures in back eddies proved to be effective. “As usual, most of the bigger fish were caught on Classic 160s, Reidys Big B52s and bigger Bombers. “Even the smaller ‘rats’ took a liking to bigger lures. “We spent a good few hours casting to a creek mouth in Tommycut on Sunday and, after numerous lure changes, found that the smallest B52 was what attracted the most attention on the falling tide. “Evan Dixon made a dash on Saturday afternoon around Point Stuart to a creek. “We fished the drains in Sampan until midday on Saturday for a few dropped rats,” Evan said. “After arriving at the mouth to some decent chop, we decided to run the gauntlet and head to a coastal creek. “After spending a couple of hours on the flats waiting for the tide to come in, we eventually managed to sneak in. “I landed my biggest fish for the trip after half an hour (95cm) on a Zerek Flat Shad and we were pumped. “The next couple of hours got much better with sounders lighting up and fish feeding hard. “The tide started to push in earnest and the four boats were regularly landing fish. “The fishing slowed on dusk before shutting down completely,” Evan said. Another competitor lost two big fish but had a hit that produced a barra scale the size of a 50 cent piece. Apparently his boat was towed around for 30 minutes by a huge Queensland groper until finally the rings opened up and the hooks straightened. Ross said: “The biggest fish of the weekend came from Tommycut on the top of the tide. “It was caught on Reidy’s Big Ass B52. “The angler was Bryn Montgomery, and there was only one other metre fish recorded for the weekend,” Ross told me. There were 148 fish over 50cm recorded from the weekend, including 21 fish in the 90s, 9 in the 80s, 31 in the 70s, 47 in the 60s and 38 in the 50s. Stewart Odgers won this round with five fish of 71cm, 92cm, 89cm, 100cm and 90cm. It looks like Stewart had a fat time. He was followed by Luke Barnes, Evan Dixon and Bryn Montgomery. The highest-scoring junior was Charli Syme with Mitchell Reilly a close second. Round Two of the Top End Barra Series returns to the Daly River on 20-21 May. Check out www.tebs.fish for full details of every round. …………………………………………………………………………… You might like to wet a line this Sunday at the Tracy Village Social & Sports Club at 28 Tambling Terrace, Lyons. That’s the venue for the Amateur Fishermen’s Association Annual General Meeting. It kicks off at 10.00am and both members and non-members are invited. AFANT AGMs are always robust and this one should be no different, with the main focus being an update on the $50m recreational fishing election commitment from Fisheries Minister Ken Vowles. There will also be presentations from Justice Pepper on the Fracking Inquiry, Shane Penny on CDU’s sonic tracking of barramundi on the Roper River, and an update on coastal reef fish protection areas from Shane Penny of NT Fisheries. As usual, there will be great raffle draws and a free barbecue. PHOTOS: Bryn Montgomery’s 112cm barra – the biggest fish of round one of the Top End Barra Series – was caught on a Reidys Big Ass B52.
Stewart Odgers won this first TEBS round with five great barra, including this 100cm fish.
Craig Latimore with a beaut TEBS barra caught on a Reidys Big Ass B52.
Charli Syme was junior champion in this first TEBS round.