Last weekend was the Top End Barra Series’ billabong round.

All the action was happening over Corroboree, Rockhole, Hardies, Mary River Bridge Lagoon, and Shady Fresh (upper side of the barrage only).

 

The billabong rounds have brought mainly misery in the past and one could be forgiven for wonder how this round would go… While it was hard for some, it was quite simply amazing for others. Others who missed the round, might now have some regrets of doing so.

 

You don’t need to be a statistician to understand this simple comparison;

In 2019 there was only 17 fish recorded for the round and this year there were over fifty fish captured. In 2019 the biggest fish was a respectable 83 cm specimen. This year three, yes three barramundi over the one metre mark have been captured and released! With the biggest fish being 104cm, caught by Chris “Banana Man” Rutishauser. Well done Chris! The swamp donkey was caught on a Reidy’s Big B52’s in the colour black, trolling at night. In 2019 only nine anglers managed to hook at least one barra. This year 21 of them were able to rejoice when their line went tight, their reels started to scream and a fish found the net.

 

In 2019 the top two fishos for the round were Peter Cooper first and Simon Bochow second. This year the top two were… wait a minute, we will come to this a bit later but we have a few other things to tell first…

 

On Saturday morning the weather was just right, but soon the wind came up and made things a bit less than ideal. Except for one guy, who amazingly had his full bag by 8:30am, with a metery landed on the fourth cast at around 6:30am… All this while other anglers were trying to find spots sheltered from the wind. The day fishing was slow, yet many anglers could be seen trolling for barra or flicking the lillies for saratoga, the bycatch species for this round.

 

As the light faded many were hoping, waiting, with anticipation for things to happen. A good number of fish were seen on sounders across the place, but few of them seemed to be hungry enough to chew on a lure. A great variety of lures were used over the weekend, but the secret for trolling seems to have been the Reidy’s Big B52 in black at night and silver or gold during the day. Contrast again playing a major key in lure selection.

 

For flicking it was all about soft plastics. I even had success catching some saratoga on a Mepps spinner lure. These lures are similar to those I used 40 odd years ago while chasing pike and zander in Europe.

 

I heard many tales, of fish that during the night from Saturday to Sunday, were so big that they tore enough line from reels to brick anglers in snags or just gill rack the poor souls’ leader lines. Tim Bolch for example, first landed a very fat 91 which looked more like a piglet that a fish. Then using the same lure hooked onto an absolute horse of a fish that took nearly all of his line and finished him off by burring his lucky lure in some distant timber.

A very short shower on Sunday morning at around 4:00 am was not enough to deter the competition participants. But alas it seems that most of the action was had over night. Sunday proved very difficult and many left early. On the Sunday by mid-morning, rumours were running wild on the water, from boat to boat, that a 99 cm fish and three meteries had been caught already. I even heard from my own ears a Tebsie say that if such rumour was true, he would eat cardboard for his next breakfast… I tell you what, I don’t envy his breakfast that is for sure!

 

 

Now for the winners, here they come:

Kai Argent, a podium regular, took out third with an already enviable bag of 61, 65, 69, 70 and 82cm.

 

First and second seem to be a bit like déjà vu. Like 2019 Simon Bochow was second with five fish of 54, 70, 80, 91 and 99 cm. A ridiculous haul in anyone’s books.

 

Did you noticed that despite three barramundi over the one metre none yet were mention in third and second position? That is because of Peter in his casual nonchalant fashion snared not one but two of them! Yes just like last year, he again snares first for the billabong round with a bag of 56, 62, 67, 100 and 100cm barramundi! What a score, frankly…. ridiculous.  Two Meteries in the same round for one angler is a rarely seen event in the history of the TEBS.

And what is more amazing, is that Peter got all his scoring fish by 11:00am on Saturday! All of them casting soft plastic deep into the snags… I don’t know about you, but I personally would love to know which snags exactly!!!

And yes, two years in a row, Simon and Peter arrive on the podium in the exact same position. I wonder now what will happen next year. I can tell you this though, it will be hard to justify moving the billabong rounds back to the dry…

 

Well before then though, we have a couple of rounds before our 2020 series draws to a close. Next up, Top End Barra Series heads to Darwin Harbour.