It seems last week’s round 4 of the Top End Barra Series (TEBS) was anything but a walk in the park for most of the competitors. This was the annual Darwin Harbour round, timed as it was for the beginning of the build-up season. According to Regis Martin, who competed in the weekend competition, the barra were fickle and incredibly hard to entice. “Our harbour is the largest in Australia and fish have plenty of places to seek refuge,” Regis said. “Despite the large number of competitors fishing this round, it was amazing that some anglers still had vast sections of the harbour to themselves. “Weather wise, the water was like glass in the mornings, becoming windy in the afternoon and into the evening. “With high tide on both mornings, the fish hid deep within the mangroves, and competitors had to wait patiently for them to finally swim out onto the flats, and hope their opportunities weren’t unsettled by the onset of wind. “The small windows to target fish were not ideal scenarios, but perhaps these are just excuses,” Regis commented. When you fish in close proximity to mangroves, sandflies are often a nuisance, but apparently TEBS competitors encountered them in plague proportions over the weekend. “One ‘Tebsie’ had mozzie coils smouldering at either end of his boat both day and night,” Regis reported. “At night, it was worse and the moon was so bright that it looked like someone forgot to turn off the light. “In our boat, we decided to spend the night in a little harbour creek, hoping for a hot bite session. “But the only bites we felt were not from barramundi but from the millions of insects that had decided to call us dinner. “However, it was not all gloom and doom – the harbour is a beautiful place, with a great variety of wildlife. “Plenty of competitors enjoyed the sight of frolicking dolphins and the many different bird species would have made any self-respecting birdwatcher twitch,” Regis said. Not surprisingly, Darwin Harbour offered up an array of different species. One of note was Michael Summerton’s spectacularly-coloured juvenile Queensland groper. Other incidental bycatch included: javelin fish, rock cod, flathead, golden and brassy trevally, queenfish, archerfish, barracuda, golden snapper, threadfin salmon and mangrove jack. Regis also reported: “On Sunday afternoon, I saw a very disappointed member of the TEBS fraternity at the Dinah Beach boat ramp - he had lost a barra in the 90s when both hooks broke off as the fish was within reach. “Sadly, he ended up with a donut for the weekend. “Another angler was also unlucky as he kept dropping fish before they reached the landing net. “When Lady Luck finally smiled upon him, and a 66cm fish did hit the deck, the encounter was short lived: after a photo was recorded, a last-minute jump sent the fish promptly back into the drink. “Thankfully, this Houdini of a fish was tired and didn’t swim very far, so it was able to be re-netted and dispatched into the icebox as consolation prize,” Regis said. This year, only one angler, Peter Cooper (AKA Cuddles), managed to catch his quota of five scoring fish – 59cm, 61cm, 63cm, 66cm and 68cm – and was a clear winner, a feat he achieved last year. Depending on the prevailing winds, Peter fished West and East Arms, and caught all his fish on soft plastics. Tim Bolch, whose bag comprised two fish at 66 and 82cm, came second, followed by Clayton Archbold who caught three fish measuring 50, 52 and 84cm respectively. I must say it’s nice to hear of some quality fish getting caught in the Darwin Harbour.
Tim Bolch’s 82cm barra was a great catch in the Top End Barra Series Darwin Harbour round.
Josh Scanlon’s Top End Barra Series barra was caught on a vibe.
Always a great eye-candy catch, Michael Summerton’s juvenile Queensland groper was caught during the TEBS Darwin Harbour round.