Last weekend was the much anticipated final round for the 2021 Top End Barra Series – “Gap Year”. It took place right on our doorstep, on the vast and beautiful Darwin Harbour. Now to say that the harbour can be at times difficult to fish, would have been a very clear understatement last weekend.

It was hot and windy, with many fish around, but hard to hook them.

Examples of the difficulties faced by competitors over the weekend were similar to when Tim Bolch found patch with big numbers of active fish but was only able to extract one Barramundi of 59cm from it. That sounded a bit like Dwight Shepherd’s story of finding a big school of Barra in Woods Inlet. Where the Barramundi acted like pelagic fish slashing and jumping through schools of bait yet was only reward with two takers from this spot of hot action.

Likewise, on the boat I was invited on by Mark Grosser, we found a nice little place of mayhem on a mud flat. With our targeted and desired prey, the Lates Calcarifer totally smashing the bait against a little flowing drain. The stuff that every Barramundi fisher folks dream about! To alas only get two point scorers from it, a many undersized ones. This seems to have been a recurring theme for many over the weekend. Lots of sorry tales of the ones that got away.

That is for how hard it was to find and hook the fish.

Now weather wise… If you don’t know, it was more than nice and warm. It was hot, with a Hollywood budget! And windy, on nearly the same scale. As told by Dwight who said that when sat on his office chair on Monday morning with a sore & aching back, that he really wondered if it had been wise to travel to and back from Woods Inlet in the windy and choppy weather.

Statistics wise we had 31 barramundi caught this year, versus 59 for last year. Only one full bag this year, compared to six last year.

It seems that this year the lures that worked the best in our beautiful harbour were soft plastics. With the most successful being the Molix Shad, the Berkley prawn Nemesis and Z-Man Diesel minnow.

An encouraging note is the number of small Barramundi caught, this is really good news and bodes well for the future of our local fishery. Next year Darwin Harbour round should see a much healthier quantity of fish captured.

Who did well with the tough conditions and finished the year very happy at the end of this last round?

Well on the third position we have Dwight Shepherd with a three fish of 60, 63 and 67cm, not a bad bag considering the conditions.

Running second we have John Keirs with a slightly bigger bag of four fish coming in at 50, 55, 65 and 68cm. Well done John.

And in the first place we have someone who this year become a usual suspect in the top 3 but with his first win of the year, James Park. James was also the only person in this round to get a full bag of five fish. These were 66, 68, 69, 76 and 78cm. This not only gave James the first place of the round, but also the biggest fish of the round. Congratulations James!

After 6 rounds for this season of the Top End Barra Series, we have now tallied a few of the crucial scores and can reveal the Grand champion for 2021 is James Park!

A big congratulations again to James as this was a testing year and you did very well to be consistently at the top of the leader board. In second position we have Dwight Shepherd, who was neck to neck with James all year long. This was a very close competition with only 3 points separating James & Dwight for the overall series win. And third on this years podium is John Keirs, who once again was consistent across the rounds, great effort John.

No doubt you have certainly noted that the year podium bears great resemblance to the last round results. Once again proof that persistence pays off. Well done lads. The Top ten results are not finalised at the time of writing, there are still some calculations to work through, but the annual results will be released soon.

After another great year of fun filled fishing adventures with the Top End Barra Series, it is now time to dream about what the next years TEBS is going to bring us all…