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Alex's Column 18 May 2023

An overdue weekend of glass-out conditions greeted competitors in last week’s round three of the Top End Barra Series (TEBS).

Held in Bynoe Harbour, hopes were high that the catch of 14 point-scoring barra last year would be eclipsed well and truly this year.

According to TEBS joint co-ordinator, Tim Bolch, last year no one managed to get a bag of five and this year only four anglers were able to achieve this feat. “A total of 54 fish were registered this year compared with 14 last year,” Tim said.

“Competitors were stretched far and wide within the vast reaches of Bynoe and, with ideal conditions and hotter than normal water temperatures, expectations of big scores were falsely perceived.

“Humidity was also above normal, and anglers reported temperatures up to 36 degrees in the shade.

“Following such a great wet season and Runoff, it was expected that fishing would be far better than in previous years and it was.

“Vast numbers of junior barra graced the deck of many boats, but the larger models, whilst sighted in greater than expected numbers, showed scant interest in what was been thrown at them,” Tim explained.

“Bynoe seems to be alive as a nursery and is looking very healthy for barra numbers.

“Reports of 15 to 20 undersize fish caught daily resonated the belief that maybe it was a little early for Bynoe or, as in most cases, anglers were just not good enough to outsmart the bigger fish.”

It seems there was an abundance of bait in Bynoe, which might also explain why the bigger barra were difficult to catch.

Mind you, one angler, Dwight Shepherd, managed to land two ripper barra for Bynoe Harbour – an 89cm and an 88cm – both caught on the Sunday just before the wind came up.

It was interesting that, in this year’s Bynoe Harbour round, a few anglers persevered into the night.

Mark Grosser and Regis Martin tried their luck at night at a spot that had produced for them in daylight; they had a great session, catching a dozen fish up to 65cm.

“One of our upcoming junior anglers, Ryan Higgins, reported that fishing was extremely hard and missed a great opportunity when he finally hooked on to a decent aerobatic model only to have it spit the hook on its third jump,” Tim said.

“Sunday saw conditions change with south-easterlies picking up right on a good bite window and shutting down a lot of potential sites.

“As with all fishing nowadays, persistence and successful use of technology generally see the top anglers stand out above the rest and our top three certainly stood out at Bynoe.

“In third place this year was Clayton Archibold with a great bag of 50, 56, 53, 65 and 52cm.

“Peter Cooper (aka Cuddles) was second with a terrific bag of 56, 57, 57, 58 and 60cm.

“Cuddles reported the frustration at seeing larger barra lurking in the shallows but which were not interested in anything he was throwing at them.

“In first place was our TEBS treasurer, Dwight Shepherd, who landed those two big ones and is starting to become known as the ‘Barra Whisperer’.

“The next TEBS round will be in Darwin Harbour on 19-20August,” Tim reported.


1. Thanks to this 89cm Bynoe Harbour barra, and one practically as big, Dwight Shepherd was a convincing winner of round three of the Top End Barra Series.


1. Mark Grosser outwitted a few Bynoe barra at night in the TEBS competition.


1. Top junior angler, Ryan Higgins, with his flathead bycatch from the Bynoe competition.




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