Million Dollar Barra

File 15-01-2016, 12 27 45 PM There is something very special about barra fishing. Lets face it they are easily one of the prettiest fish with those chrome plate sides but they fight so hard, smash lures and best of all taste pretty bloody good. Its no wonder everyone heads north to catch them. File 15-01-2016, 12 31 11 PM The Northern Territory decided to add an added incentive this year with a “Million Dollar Barra”. The million-dollar fish campaign is a bloody ripper. NT tourism have released not one but seventy six barramundi across the state, all with a price on their head. Now 75 of those fish are sporting a ten thousand dollar tag each, while one is carrying the jackpot, a whopping 1 million dollar tag. All you have to do is register and then simply catch it and you’re instantly a millionaire! With a draw card like this I headed straight up to the Top End recently to try my luck. However I did have a secret weapon up my sleeve and that was cricket legend Matt Hayden. Now Matt happens to be a ‘Mate of the Territory’ and an ambassador for the million dollar fishing campaign, so who better to give me the inside info on exactly where those fish had been set free. Well that was my theory, but alas Matt was no help at all, in fact he was just as keen as I was to have a crack at the prize money as me!
Great mates and Great Fishing

Great mates and Great Fishing

Instead of doing it the normal way and setting off in tinnies, we stepped it up a notch and hitched a ride with Helifish who run chopper-fishing safaris down to the remote creeks running off the flood plans down near the infamous Daly River. Mark has been running this operation for several years and has become highly successful because with the chopper you can get right into those remote creeks quick and easy. Best of all these spots rarely ever get fished. A lot of people complain about the cost but in reality it is relatively cheap way to get a quickie where you are literally fishing in minutes! The great thing about helifishing in the NT is the flight. Flying over endless flood plains, paperbark swamps and ochre red cliffs is a major distraction and by the time we reached the small creek I was totally distracted by the awesome scenery. However I quickly snapped back to reality when I laid eyes on the huge school of mullet rippling and boiling with the incoming tide. The key to catching barra in the NT is all about working the tides. Each river system is unique so if you are new, local knowledge is vital. File 15-01-2016, 12 26 54 PM Having said that if you find the bait you are in with a shot and with the mullet rippling nervously I couldn’t wait to cast my ever-faithful Laser Pro 120. I am not sure why gold is so productive especially in dirty water but whatever the reason barra love it and after a few casts I hit pay dirt. The rod came alive in my hands then seconds later a silvery barra burst through the surface. It wasn’t a monster and it didn’t have one of those all important tags, but still catching a fish in such a spectacular setting only accessible by chopper was a real treat in its own right. And besides it gave me bragging rights over my sporting legend mate who had yet to score and believe me in the Aussie spirit I told him about it too! We managed a few more barra before finally calling it quits. The beauty of chopper fishing is that you can leap frog from creek to creek so as the day wore on we fished a number of locations before finally calling it a day, but not without stopping at the pub where we parked the chopper in the beer garden! File 15-01-2016, 12 26 12 PM Since Matt was no help with my plan to get some inside info I decided I would do it alone next and headed down to see Stu from the Daly River Barra Resort and try my luck in the infamous Daly River. The Daly is one of the most famous barra rivers in the NT and since commercial netting was banned the fishing has just got better and better. While I had been lure fishing Stu had something else planned and opted for soaking livies instead. It was like going back to basics and to be completely honest I had never used live Cherabin for barra. A lot of hardcore barra fisho’s insist on only using lures but I am all about catching barra, not techniques. For this reason soaking shrimps is a real favourite with the grey nomads because it is such a productive fish, better still I should add it is particularly effective outside of the peak season in the run off. File 15-01-2016, 12 28 16 PM The technique is very simple, just a wide gape hook with a running ball sinker on a baitcaster outfit and your in action, so it’s a super cheap way to fish. Soaking these oversized freshwater shrimps in the creek mouths and around snags is all you need to do, especially on the start of the run in tide. Fishing with Stu we managed a pile of barra up to 65cm, but again sadly none sported the million dollars. While the million bucks would have come in very handy it really was nothing more than an excuse so I could head back up to the NT, catch up with mates, enjoy a few beers and best of all catch a few barra. There really is something very special about the Top End that draws you back time and time again, which is an even stronger draw card than the million!

Al McGlashan

About Al McGlashan

Al McGlashan is one of Australia’s best-known fishos and has built a reputation on catching some of the nation’s biggest fish. A father of two, Al spends more than 200 days a year on the water. He doesn’t take the easy route on charter boats, instead getting out there and doing it all himself on a trailer boat just like 5-million other Aussie anglers.


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