Author: Peter Curry

Round 1 for TEBS 2023 was scheduled at the Daly River 25/26 February.

Fishing the Daly River during the wet season offers windows of opportunity for some spectacular fishing. In February the Daly River has an average of 17 days rain and long-term rainfall anywhere between 77mm to 680mm, with an average of 280mm. Most Fisho’s hope for a good solid wet season to rejuvenate the river systems and set up the fishing for a good year ahead. Year to date, it has experienced 14 days rain and just 206mm.

Statistically 2023 has not been a particularly wet year for most of the Top End in general, so the rain is welcomed. Rainfall in the catchment area as far away as Katherine is the biggest driver of the Daly River water levels. With water progressively making its way down the river. What could go wrong?

As the dates for the competition drew closer, a lot of attention was placed on weather forecasts, which was predicted to be poor. A post was put up on Social Media highlighting concerns that the river conditions could become unfavourable, bordering on dangerous and the possibility of road closures before or during the competition. After careful consideration of many different options, it was decided that the round would not go ahead at the Daly River due to safety concerns, but instead be moved to Shady Camp.

Weather forecasts for Shady Camp were also not particularly favourable, which saw a good number of anglers stay at home, or only fish one day. The rain pounded down on Friday night and Saturday morning saw scattered showers. After hooking up the boat on Saturday morning between showers, it was with trepidation that I set off hopefully to arrive at the dirt section of road just on daylight. Water was over the road on the Arnhem Highway in several places and Scott Creek running 200mm over the road, the dirt road section was slow going, muddy, with plenty of potholes. With plenty of water running over the barrage launching on all tides was not an issue. The persistent rain kept the rain jackets on all of Saturday, but fortunately most showers were light and not long lasting.

Early morning low tides usually bring a ‘conga’ line of boats out the front of Sampan Creek, however, with the strong Westerly winds and swell trolling ‘out the front’ proved very difficult. As a result most of the fishing was within Sampan.

With so many negatives due to the weather, it was nice to see plenty of brave TEBS competitors out on the water, with new 2023 ‘red’ shirts and hats on full display. Bite windows were short with the bigger tides, unusually large back eddies formed at certain periods of the outgoing tide and the fish joined them. Those that saw the development were rewarded with some solid fish. After a soggy weekend the results are in and despite the conditions, some outstanding fish were caught!!!  Thirty four anglers entered scoring fish, ten with a full bag of five fish and eight scoring 1,000 points or more.

A new TEBS record for a round score of more than 2,000 points was achieved by none other than Jack Oswald, our previous year’s winner. Funnily enough, Jack together with Ben Banks got all the way to the mouth of Sampan only to realise that they did not have a scorecard. Fortunately, Anita Carver and her crew were able to come to the rescue with a spare score card.

Jack also scored the biggest barra for the round at 114. It was literally the very last cast on Sunday afternoon when Jack hooked up on the fish. The fish wound its way around the Livescope pole and into the sticks, before coming to the net. What a Ripper of a fish! With catches like this, the 2023 measuring board and sticker may require an extension piece (but it seems safe for now).

Tristan Christie and Amelia Byers had a great weekend at Tommycut. Boating over 30 fish between them, which is a great effort. Tristan managed to break a rod tip on the Livescope pole mid-fight with a sizable fish.

Dwight Shepherd had a good weekend with a full bag of fish and also a great score. He also set a new PB with a 110 caught at Tommycut. His fishing partner for the round was Anthony Dent who registered just one scoring fish at 105, which was caught on the way back to the boat ramp on Sunday afternoon.

 

Lachlan Markey also put in a solid weekend achieving his full bag late on Sunday afternoon. He was fortunate not to lose a rod to quite a decent fish after leaving his lure dangling in the water while taking control of the electric motor. Unfortunately, that fish jumped off.

Tim Bolch braved the conditions and ventured to the Wildman for the weekend. Describing it as ‘wet and soggy’, Tim also encountered a crocodile that was a little too friendly, and with that returned with a respectable bag scoring just below 1,000 points for the weekend.

Camping conditions, were probably best described as miserable for anyone not set up properly. High winds and heavy rain made finding the right location to camp quite tricky. Anchor management also proved tricky, too little rope, or not enough rope? Plus, the constant bumps on the hull of the boat during the night of floating debris coming down the river probably kept a few on high alert. A couple of guys camping out at the NP campground did not bring any insect repellent and had to borrow some from fellow competitor. Not sure that ‘well it’s a new boat’ is really the cause for not packing the Bushman’s.

A crocodile on the Eastern side up from the first corner of Sampan Creek proved itself to be a quite a menace for some anglers, taking caught fish and appearing whenever a fish was caught. Craig Grose thought that he was really onto something big when casting to a large shape seen on the Livescope. However, the hooks let go and a ‘3m ish’ croc poked it head out of the water not looking too impressed.

TEBS competitors spirit of decency, good will and fair play was common in many of the weekends experiences. We all need to be mindful that this is a family friendly competition and promote those values whenever possible.

Next round will see us back at Shady Camp on the 18 -19th March. This round should see more favourable tides and coming towards the back end of the wet season should also see more stable weather. Hopefully that will bring out more competitors for what should be a great round.