Round 1 Shady & Coastals 17-18 Feb 2024

With much anticipation, round 1 of 2024 Top End Barra series kicked off at the famed Shady Camp. After last year’s 2 shady rounds providing the 2 highest ever TEBS round scores in its 11 year history, around 100 odd competitors took to the water with high expectations hoping for similar results!

With good inland rainfalls the complete Mary system has had millions of gigalitres of water flow down and we expected to get a little wet on the weekend but the fishing gods held off on a bath for all. It looks with last week’s monsoon (that had us all a bit worried if we would get to shady), to be rising again. The Mary Bridge billabong car park was under water on Sunday as I drove over the bridge on the way home so fully expect another major rise in levels over this week’s spring tides backing up flood waters.


This rainfall has been very welcome but relatively late however causing a distinct lack of bait right throughout the upper reaches. Sampan Creek itself is still suffering a case of dead water hang over from fish kills at the start of the wet season. This event has caused the vast majority of fish to be focused outside of the river mouth and only coming into the system over the higher end of the tide cycle. The only downside here is that with strong winds it made fishing the mouth difficult and the neap tides not strong enough to push good sea water back into the system. The winds and dead water also focused the angling pressure with the vast majority of anglers staying in either the mouth of San Pan or making a dash across to Tommycut Creek which had an armada of “scopers” barraging the mouth of the river setting a “scope net” in wait of any fish entering the systems. A couple of brave souls ventured further afield and one competitor made it to the Wildman River but also only had limited success.

As for the fishing it was a case of night…..and day. The complete story of the day from everyone I spoke to was of fish having lock jaw and only a few fish caught. I personally was a broken man trying to force feed a lure into fish’s mouths off the Active Imaging. On many occasions bumping the fish with lures for zero results. Come night time however the switch was flicked and the fish lost all inhibition and actively hunted anything moving within striking distance. A crazy distinct and noticeable attitude change on their behalf as shown by the forward facing Active sonars. The technology is amazing for this sort of information as a fisherman!


As for the top 3, Tristan Christie was the stand out angler dominating the scoreboard with a 90,89,81,81,80 as his bag. Considering the conditions it is clear he has his Active imaging dialed in. He could be found focusing his efforts in Tommy’s mouth casting plastics at any unsuspecting fish with deadly accuracy.  Congratulations on a hard fought round win!

2nd up was Mathew Bolitho who managed to find a donkey willing to play the game. His monster baz went 112 and wins him fish of the round. He finished with a 4 fish bag of 112,81,74,59. The inability to find a 5th scoring fish probably cost a round win but an amazing effort nonetheless the less to boat fish of the round In tough conditions.

Rounding out the top 3 was Lachlan Markey with a consistent bag of 83,82,79,79 and 73. This bag was a good example of the average size fish in the systems currently and the sounders showed big numbers of this size fish in most Eddie’s for the first couple of km’s inside the mouth of Tommycut Creek with the occasional monster turning up.


The other honorable mention goes to Ben Vidgen with a 104 boated at the mouth of Sampan Creek.

With round 1 being done and dusted we now focus our eyes onto the mighty Daly River in under a months’ time. With one of the biggest wets for a long time in this area the river should be primed for some big bags of fish and hopefully a crack at the magic metery for all!


Author – Peter “Cuddles” Cooper