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Fishing With Alex Julius 21/02/2019

Unless it buckets down at some time over the next 9 days – and we are assured that it won’t – the annual Top End Barra Series (TEBS) will commence with conditions different to any experienced in its nine year history.

The TEBS format is different to any other major barra competition in the NT in that it is held over six rounds throughout the year, with each one at a different venue. Traditionally, the first round is held at Shady Camp, and this year that will take place the weekend after this on 2-3 March. As with all rounds, fishing will commence at 6.00am Saturday and continue until 6.00pm Sunday. TEBS is a competition for individual anglers who hopefully register their best five barramundi caught over the weekend. The tides will be similar to last weekend’s neaps when there were some quality barra caught in and around the mouth of the Mary River down from Shady Camp. The better fish were caught trolling the various “runs” out from the mouth, but lots of small barra were caught casting vibes and soft plastics around the edges inside the mouth. One thing for certain is that there will be up to 100 boats working the mouth of the Mary, mainly at the bigger Sampan Creek mouth but also across the way at Tommycut Creek. These two creeks form the Mary River delta. The Top End Barra Series competition is kept simple and there are no catering, big functions or start and ending ceremonies. After the weekend, competitors email photos of their best five barra over 50cm, with each one clearly depicting the length on a measuring tape and with the TEBS scoring card for the round also clearly visible. The scoring card for each round is emailed to competitors on the Friday morning prior to each round. Scoring is on a points system similar to that used in the Barra Classic and Barra Nationals which rewards bigger fish. It’s a no-brainer that the competitor at the end of each round with the highest score is the winner, but there are also mystery fish prizes for other species determined by the organisers prior to each round. It’s pretty hard in this fast-paced world we live in to make all six rounds so, to offset that a tad, only scores from each competitor’s five best rounds are calculated; ie the lowest-scoring round is dropped. Prior to the first round, competitors receive a pack which includes a TEBS shirt, a printed stubby holder with 2019 Series dates and sponsors, a measurement sticker, boat stickers, a TEBS hat, and TEBS logo lures. Etiquette is a big factor in the rules: “Anglers must not engage in behaviour which brings the Top End Barra Series into disrepute. “This shall include anti-social, unsafe or aggressive behaviour or taking more than the prescribed local bag limit. “Disqualification will occur in these instances with the decision of the event organisers being final. “A disqualified angler and/or team will not be entitled to reimbursement of monies in any form from the Top End Barra Series.” Competitors can only use artificial lures or flies, with no restriction on leader size or length. Even though it is an individual competition, a non-competitor can come out and fish with his or her competing-angler friend. Provided there are sufficient entries, for each round, prizes are awarded from first to sixth place, for the highest-placed junior and for the biggest barra. There are also prizes for barra mystery sizes, for mystery fish other than barra, and for lucky door winners. At the end of the year, trophies are awarded for the overall winner and up to six placegetters, for the champion female angler, for the champion junior angler and for the biggest barra of the year. I believe there are something like 200 entrants each year, although never do anywhere near that amount make it to a round. It’s an incredibly social competition, with boats often rafting up when the fishing is slow or at night. If you think the Top End Barra Series might be for you, go to or to the Facebook page and register your interest.

Vanessa Anderson fished with husband Sean at the Mary River mouth last weekend, and came away trumps with this ripper barra.

Brandon Long found some barra-producing colour change.

Looks like the green Bomber did the job for Christopher Lehars judging by this beaut oceanic barra.


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