Round 4 of the 2015 Top End Barra Series was held on the striking waters of Darwin Harbour on Saturday August 29th and Sunday August 30th.  The weather was what you would expect for this time of year with light breezes in the morning and with the wind picking up around lunch time. There has been some great reports from all the Harbour gurus around the place in the lead up to round 4, although now it was time to see how all the TEBS competitors would fare in this delicate environment.

I say delicate, as people who regularly fish the harbour with consistent quality results, are those that have spent many hours learning what makes the harbour tick by building up a book of knowledge of where the fish will be on certain tides and how best to target them. For the regular fisho the Harbour can be quite an art form to find fish, and practice can make perfection, and I think after the weekend there will be plenty of competitors that have learnt some more and they will be back in the next few weeks to build on that in preparation for the 2016 Harbour Round.

The Harbour round really showcases what Darwin has got to offer and it really ticks a lot of boxes for the avid angler. For starters it is a very economical way to fish, not having to tow your boat large distances, also there are a variety of different methods to target fish, there are great by catches such as queen fish, mangrove jacks, goldies, salmon ad trevally, there is a healthy stock of barramundi present, the more you practice the better your knowledge and catch rates will improve and finally  the beauty of it is that even on a weekend there is always somewhere to go in the Harbour where you will be lucky to find another boat.

Over the weekend there were plenty of people mentioning how many fish they saw, but they just could not get them hooked or stay connected which is also great news. Even though there was a great number of fish caught it is also great to hear that anglers were presented with plenty of more opportunities over the weekend that can not be seen in the statistics. This is certainly different to the past two rounds, where it was a real battle to even find a fish let alone catch one. A lot of competitors were commenting on how many fish were spotted on the flats, although they were very difficult to entice a lure, maybe this will change as the water continues to heat up during the build up.

Competitors were scattered all over the harbour on the weekend, and to be honest I think the ones who caught the most fish were the ones with more experience of the Harbour or as the old saying goes ‘they were in the right spot at the right time, with the correct method. There were a variety of Harbour methods used over the weekend, but the most obvious were casting to the flats on the high and working the drains on the low.

From around 100 competitors there 101 fish caught over the weekend. This may not sound huge but it is actually a very good result. You must remember barra fishing is not easy and in particular it has been tough in the past few years. To put this into comparison compared to our other rounds this year this was a very good result. In round 1 at Shady Camp there were 158 fish caught, in round 2 at the Adelaide River there were 33 caught and in round 3 at the iconic Daly River there were 36 fish caught, so the Harbour has certainly shown it is a great fishery when you look around our past results. Another promising note is how the Harbour has improved from last year. In 2014 we caught 81 barramundi with 6 over 70cm, where as in 2015 we caught 101 with 13 over 70cm. This shows an improvement in catch rates as well as an improvement in size which is all great news for the Darwin barramundi fisherman. In the end there were 13 barramundi over 70cm caught, 30 between 60 and 69cm and 58 between 50 and 59cm.

Kai Argent made fishing Darwin Harbour look easy by catching a full bag of five fish including three in the seventies to total 640 points and take out the round and his first victory of the season after coming second in round 2. Kai will be rewarded with a Helifish trip with Helifish and will also be the proud owner of a LJ Custom Rod. In second place was Kyle Chin who caught 2 in the seventies and 3 in the sixties to total an impressive 585 points. In third place for his first points of the year was Stephen Pennington with 525 points from a 79cm, 69cm, 66cm and a 65cm. Stephen Pennington got the Bigfish Grphics Biggest Barra Award with his 79cm, and what made his efforts even more impressive was that he was only able to fish on the Saturday. Aaron Pollock picked up the second biggest barramundi at 78cm. The top three were impressive and quite dominant showing that they had the skills to tame the harbour as they amassed quite a lead over the rest of the field with Jacob Lowe coming in fourth with 355 points and Peter Cooper rounded out the top 5 with 330 points.

Kai Argent is now leading the series with 671 points, followed by Shane Moon with 623 points. These two have been very consistent and have been battling it out all year. In third place not too far back is Kyle Chin with 526 points, who is only 2 points ahead of Regis Martin in fourth and rounding out the top 5 is Regis’ skipper in Brett Warren with 498 points.

We will now leave the saltwater of Darwin Harbour and head to the sweet water of the Mary River Billabongs for round 5 on October 10 and 11. The billabongs were left out last year due to the results being quite poor, although it is time to revisit and see if the billabongs have improved at all, so it will be very interesting to see how the results pan out. Here’s hoping for some great fresh water action.