Last weekend was the first round of the 2019 Top End Barra Series. About 110 very keen anglers were waiting with growing impatience, just like small children long for Christmas. It finally happened last weekend with competitors converging on Shady Camp, like an annual pilgrimage.
Once again, Shady didn’t disappoint, with a large number of big, Mama Barra falling to the lures of enthusiastic anglers. Participants in the TEBS were fishing far and wide, from Tommy Cutt all the way up to the Wildman. Anglers appreciated the opportunities to spread out throughout the lower Mary System. The range and quantity of data collected by TEBSies is a great way to assess the health of the system. Despite the lack of rain this year, there is no doubt that the system is still producing the goods.
Some had launched on the Friday to have the opportunity of a first raft up, or simply to pre-fish and find their honey hole. As a matter of fact, on one of these pre-fish escapades, Craig Latimore nailed a 116cm Barramundi. Not only is that a great fish which could have given an awesome fight on any given day… it was foul hooked, not very far from the end tail making it all the more challenging. Now, imagine trying to reel in a 116 cm Barramundi that you can’t turn around… Now from what I heard about raft ups, well what happens on a boat stays on a boat. But let me say that one well know Tebsie came all the way from NSW to be part of them and has since returned down south, hopefully not too impaired from the experience.
Talking about the nights slumbering aboard cherished vessels, competitors need a quick reminder to be ‘crocwise’. Rossco had a lizard spending the night either removing barnacles from its back or hoping to tenderize its dinner. Tim Bloch also had bit of a shock when going to answer a call of nature, at night, only to find a crocodile resting his head on the back pontoon.
The fishing seemed to be better all across the board on the Saturday than on the Sunday, apart from a few exceptions. Most of the fish were caught on big lures, with the large Reidy’s and Classic models doing most of the damage. In place like the mouth of Sampan and Tommy Cutt, it was at times difficult to get passed the plagues of threadfin. While they are great fun to catch, they are not the sort after prize and are sensitive about mediocre methods of catch and release.
When it comes to the winners for this first round of the year, here is an interesting little fact which might make one place a hot spot next year… The top five anglers for the round were all fishing in the vicinity of the Wildman. They might still be debating if it was better to fast troll or slow troll, but they were all there. Of the first three, there was one fish registered under 90cm (89). To understand the quality of the fishing over the weekend, you have to realise that Wade Johnson, who caught two meteries and two solid kickers, only arrive in forth position… which is frankly ridiculous. Wade, we’d feel sorry for you but it is impossible to sympathise with someone who just put two dollars in the piggy bank. It was an incredible weekend, with possibly the largest collective score in the history of our competition.
Before we chat about final placing, we’d also like to share the fact the Chris Armstrong a newbie to our competition took out the biggest fish for the round at 109cm and significantly upgraded his PB. Fantastic effort mate! There were five meteries caught in total, well done to each of the skilled anglers: Kell Ship, Wade Johnston (2), Craig Grose & Chris Armstrong. In third place for the round, we had Tim Bloch with a bag of 91, 91, 92, 92 and 93 cm. Now this is what I would call consistency. Coming second for the round was our reigning champion for 2018, Peter Cooper, with a bag of 90, 90, 91, 92 and 97 cm. It is worth noting that Peter was also fishing solo, which is a tremendous effort. The winner of the round was none other than the Shady Camp specialist himself, Craig Latimore, with a full bag of 89, 91, 93, 96 and 96cm… I don’t know about you, but for me that is definitively a weekend to be remembered. Congratulations Lats!
All eyes now turn from one favourite haunt to another. Will the Daly surprise us and deliver the goods or will it be the usual test of endurance which knocks many off their pedestals?