Neap tides, calm waters and a great deal of angling enthusiasm combined to ensure last weekend’s opening round of the Top End Barra Series was an absolute ripper, especially for some bigger barra. TEBS co-ordinator, Rossco Abraham, said this first round is known as the “Shady and Coastal Round”. “Competitors were able to fish from Shady Camp to the sea, including along the coast between Marsh Creek and the Wildman River,” Rossco explained. “For people with time restrictions, the Mary River Bridge Lagoon was also included. “The idea of the round is to give people the opportunity to spread out in the designated area. “The weekend tides also attracted many other anglers and guides and the approach to Shady had cars and trailers backed up the road.” However, it seems the new dual-carriage ramp did its job and launching was far quicker, and safer, than in the old days when trailers had to be backed way out into the river to launch. With so little rain this wet season, it’s not surprising that there was minimal water flowing over the barrage. Fortunately on the neaps tides over the weekend, the channel was still navigable, albeit narrow. “Several TEBS competitors travelled down on the Friday to get in a pre-fish and to work out where the fish might be holding,” Rossco reported. “Craig Latimore found a solid 116cm fish on Friday and George Larner from NT Unique also managed a fish in the high 90s but unfortunately both fish were outside the allowed fishing times. “Apart from the concentration around the mouths of Sampan and Tommycut, there were plenty of fishable stretches in the system to get some quiet water to yourself. “Most of the bigger fish came from the Wildman River; in fact, the top five anglers in the round fished the Wildman,” Rossco reported. “Two metre-plus fish came from there, along with 14 in the high 90s. “Peter Cooper managed five fish in the 90s fishing solo, which was a great effort. “The fish were mainly caught trolling and both fast and slow methods worked the best. “Tommycut and Sampan also produced metre barra. “It seems that the big Reidy’s and big Classic lures did the job for a lot of competitors. “It was not all trolling and plenty of hours were spent casting Reidy’s vibes and other soft plastics to produce fish from snags and snake drains. “There is always a croc story or two coming out of the Mary system,” Rossco told me. “Tim Morgan reported that he got up in the night and to his surprise there was a croc resting its head on the transom. “I also had an interesting experience around 2.00am on Sunday with a croc having a back scratch under the boat a couple of times… curious animals. “The first TEBS round is a chance for everyone to catch up and this was evident by the number of mini-raft-ups during quiet fishing times. “The weekend also saw a celebrity visit from Dean Blackman who although now living in NSW signed up to fish TEBS in 2019. “His arrival helped kick off the comradery amongst friends,” Rossco said. A healthy total of more than 190 barra over the TEBS minimum 50cm size were caught, including six metreys, 38 in the 90s and 28 in the 80s. It was definitely a better result than anyone might have predicted. Craig Latimore won the round, followed by Peter Cooper, Tim Bolch, Wade Johnston and Evan Dixon. TEBS Round 2 will be held on the Daly River over the last weekend in March.
Sam Gray’s 91cm barra was one of two quality fish he caught in the Mary River during last weekend’s Top End Barra Series opener.
Chris Armstrong gets the “wicked” fingers from his fishing buddy after catching this 109cm barra in the TEBS first round.
Graig Grose’s 103cm barra was one of six metreys caught in the opening TEBS round at Shady Camp.