Round 5 of the 2023 Top End Barra Series was played out at the mouth of the Adelaide River coinciding with the start of the build-up. This is the business end of the year and it proved to be extremely competitive at the top of the leader board. For once the weather did not disappoint. The tides were neaping out as the weekend progressed and moving towards a good moon. There were high hopes the barra would also be playing the game.

Anglers spread out from Leaders Creek, through to the Wiltshires and beyond. The fishing turned out to be fairly slow for most but several anglers still managed a bag of fish. The traditional approach of trolling likely runs produced the odd hit and fish but most of the anglers in the top 10 were using Live Scope and targeting barra moving up the middle of the creeks. Another successful technique seemed to be throwing hard bodies hard into the timber as people like Clayton Archbold found.

There were a pack of anglers in the top 10 with a bag of fish around the 60s with the odd bigger one to split the difference. Tristan Christie persisted fishing with Live Scope around Wiltshire 3 to find a bag of fish 62, 64, 65, 65 and 79 for 575 points to come out in front of the pack and finish in third place.

Then there was Jack Oswald and Peter Cuddles Cooper. These two guys stood out from the pack with over double the score of the nearest competitors, going blow to blow with ever bigger and better fish.

Jack fished hard in Wiltshire 3 all weekend. On Sunday morning he was still “struggling” with only a bunch of fish in the 50s and 60s. Overall he said he caught 30-40 fish in the 50s and 60s with only a couple of 70s. Sounds fantastic to us mortals but he would well know that anything less than a bag of 80s would not be enough to take the round. It took until Sunday for him to land his first 80 and finally get into the comp. As the tide eased on Sunday and the water cleared on the top of the tide, he began to find the bigger fish and ended the day with an 80, 84, 86, 87 and an absolute horse at 111 and 1595 points for the win. The fish were not feeding hard. It took putting a suspending hardbody on their nose and waiting for the slightest of taps which were difficult to detect. Tough fishing but he managed to crack the code.

One would think the secret to success here is staying with the fish and waiting for the bite but Cuddles fished the round quite differently and could have topped Jack’s efforts if things had of gone his way. Peter moved around most of the weekend and caught most of his bigger fish in the main river. He also found 30 odd fish in the 50s-60s in the creeks. These were mostly taken on hard bodies thrown in towards the timber, but he knew bigger fish were needed to take the round. The bigger fish turned up on Sunday as the water cleared and he was able to target them on the Live Scope. Cuddles’ bag ended up a very respectable 65, 81, 83, 83 and a big 107 caught near the mouth of Castle Creek, for 1305 points and second place. But, he reports dropping a swag of fish including 4 in the 80s and another metery. Pete said the metery was beaten. It had jumped about 5 times and he had it exhausted next to the boat when the hook dropped out.

We have spoken how TEBS is the Test Cricket of fishing and just like the Tests, “Catches win Matches”. At the level Cuddles and Jack are at you can’t afford a dropped catch. For any youngsters out there remember to keep that tension on the line ?.

Regis Martin caught a couple of barra but the stand out was a really nice creek goldie. Unfortunately he managed to snap his favourite rod on it right down near the butt. Hopefully not his lucky rod.

This author also needs to thank Wade and Caleb Johnstone for doing some nice surgical work to extract a fully embedded big B52 treble from my hand. First fish of the day, within 5 minutes, had decided to release it and the bugger jumps and buries the hooks as thanks. The boys had me back fishing within minutes.

The keen observer might also notice that Peter Bottrell was not on the score board this round. Happy to report he fished the weekend out from Leader’s creek but forgot it was a barra comp and instead ended up fishing the artificial reef. He said he “hooked a big one that took off like a steam train” but somehow the 1/0 hook he was using for Jewies pulled.

We now head to the penultimate Billabong Round. The progressive scores show a tight contest for overall third place shaping between Dwight Shepherd and Tristan Christie. Both have the potential to improve their overall progressive score by up to 60 points but it won’t be enough to take out second.

First and second is a two horse race between Jack and Cuddles. This contest has been shaping over a couple of years with Jack coming out on top last year. The consistency of these two is ridiculous. Jack has 3 wins and a second in the 5 rounds to date. Cuddles has one win and 3 second places! This year Jack again has a nose marginally in front, with points to pick up by bettering his ‘average’ showing in round 3. The Billabongs will be the ‘Rumble in Jungle’ round between these lads. Only one can emerge Victorious!