Which colour tag have you reeled in? AFANT explains all!

What do different coloured tags on fish in the Northern Territory mean?

A red-tagged barra is part of Million Dollar Fish. If you’ve registered for Season 9 and snag one of these, chances are you’ve won $10,000 or a cool mill.

But if you’re out fishing and reel in a barra with a green or yellow tag, it’s part of a community-based research program by the Amateur Fishermen’s Association of the Northern Territory (AFANT) in collaboration with Fisheries NT.

Know what different coloured tags mean

AFANT’s CEO David Ciaravolo said it’s important for anglers to know what the different coloured tags mean. He also explained why it’s important to report your catch if it’s sporting a yellow or green tag.

“Some barramundi are tagged for research purposes,” he said. “These tags are yellow or green and are under the dorsal spines near the shoulder. Each tag has an individual tag number and a phone number so you can report the tagged fish.

“Whether you keep a yellow or green tagged fish is up to you, as long as it is legal size, and within your possession limit.

“If you do release the fish, you should leave the tag intact so it will continue to provide information every time that fish is caught.

“Although you won’t win any money by catching a green- or yellow-tagged barra, you will get a free fishing lure if you report the catch to us. You’ll also get a certificate with information about how far the fish has travelled and how much it has grown.”

Important information is collected through fish tagging

Mr Ciaravolo said every time an angler reports a green- or yellow-tagged barra, AFANT gains more knowledge about the growth and movement of the fish.

“The information collected through fish tagging contributes to the understanding of fish stocks, size, and age structures. It also informs us about trends in catch and release rates,” he said.

“For some catchments, scientists estimate the proportion of barra caught each year based on the tagging data reported by recreational fishers.

“The data may also be fed into periodic barramundi stock assessments. So it’s vital to help keep stocks healthy and secure the future of recreational fishing.”

Caught a tagged fish? Now you know what different coloured tags mean, visit http://afant.com.au/rec-fisher-research/report-a-tagged-fish/ and be part of sustainable fishery management.

Q&A with Merv Hughes

Legendary former test cricket fast bowler and crowd favourite Merv Hughes has been coming to the Northern Territory for almost 40 years. He’s entrenched himself in the Top End’s fishing world, returning every year to fish our pristine rivers and azure blue waters, and competing in the Barra Classic for the last 16 years. Merv has been a keen fisherman since he was a kid growing up in country Victoria, spending time on the local rivers and creeks. Although Merv lives down south, the Territory is his second home and he can’t wait to take part in Million Dollar Fish Season 9. Merv shares his fishing insights with us.

What is your favourite spot to catch a barra in the NT?

I’d have to say along the Daly River. In the last 16 years I’ve been coming up here for the Barra Classic. Competing teams descend on Darwin from all over Australia, as well as overseas, to fish this week-long annual competition. It is arguably Australia’s premier barramundi fishing tournament and I always have a good time.

Where is the most scenic spot to go fishing in the NT?

There are way too many to choose from, but some of my favourite spots would have to be remote places like the Moyle River, which is about 200km south-west of Darwin, and the Goomadeer River in West Arnhem Land.  Other hard-to-get-to spots include fishing around Croker Island, Braithwaite Point and Junction Bay. Oh, and the Tiwi Islands are pretty special, too.

Where is the best place to grab barra for dinner in Darwin?

Hands down the best way to have barra is to catch and cook it yourself. You know it’s fresh. There are plenty of places in Darwin that will cook your catch for you, and if I’ve had an unsuccessful barra fishing trip, and there have been a few of those, I’ll go to Mr Barra down on Fisherman’s Wharf. You can buy a barra pack and just tell everyone you caught it! Otherwise, I’ll head to The Cav in the CBD and if there’s grilled barra on the specials menu I’ll have that.

What is the biggest barra you’ve ever caught?

Well, you know all the biggest ones are in the Daly River. I was out fishing with mates. There was a couple of us in one boat and Shane Compain, from Tackle World in Darwin, was in another. We were up near one of the s-bends and I hooked a huge one. It was massive – at least 120cm. I know this because Shane saw the fish before it got away. He said it was a monster. Shane knows a lot more about fishing than me, so I’m going to stand by that yarn. The second largest barra I caught was 86cm, and this time I got him into the boat.

Do you prefer land-based or fishing from a boat?

When I’m fishing down south I get seasick, but in the Territory the waters are calmer. So I do prefer to fish from a boat when I’m here, whether it’s in one of the rivers, creeks, estuaries or blue water. I also prefer boating because of the crocs. Don’t fancy meeting one of them on the water’s edge.

What is so special about fishing in the NT?

It’s just amazing up here. There’s so many beautiful spots to fish and great people to spend the day fishing with. Whether you go with friends or the family, you’ll take home the best memories and, of course, fish. Also, where else can you win a million bucks for catching barra? I’ve still got my fingers crossed for a red-tagged Million Dollar Fish, and I’ve got four fingers crossed to reel in the mill.

What is your best fishing memory in the NT?

It has to be nude fishing in Bynoe Harbour. I was with a mate and we were at Crab Claw Island Resort. We were watching the footy when one of our fisho mates from Darwin came into the bar and said, “The tide’s at its best”. We’d had a couple of beers and I was a bit half-hearted at first as I wanted to watch the Bulldogs play the Lions. Anyway, we went out and as we left, Bill Briscoe, the owner, reckoned we wouldn’t catch anything. It was during the dry season and the local fishos were wrapped up in coats, but coming from down south we were hot. So we stripped off and made up a song called ‘Nude fishing in the dark’ as we headed out. It was a great laugh and we weren’t taking things too seriously, but we caught four fish in 15 minutes. One was over a metre long. You should have seen Bill’s face when we slapped the biggest one on the bar and asked, “Can you cook this up for us, mate?”

What’s your top tips and tricks to help a fisho reel in a barra?

My number one piece of advice would be talk to the locals. If you’re new to the Northern Territory ask them where the best places to fish are, and the best times. They’ll know all about the tides, spots to avoid and how to reel in a barra. I’d also book a charter, especially if you don’t have a boat. I’m lucky to now have a few fisho mates who have boats, but for visitors, I’d ask around and book before you come up. If you’re short on time I’d go to the tackle shops for info. All those guys in there are fishos and are really knowledgeable. You’ve also got to remember the essentials – a good pair of sunnies, hat and long-sleeved fishing shirts, and keep hydrated.

Do you have a lucky lure?

Reidy’s The Judge is my go to lure. It has to be in green and gold, Australia’s colours. I find if I’m not having much luck, I’ll go back to this lure and, most times, I’ll catch a fish.

We can’t wait to see Merv back up in Territory throwing in a line. Click here to check out Merv’s thoughts on Million Dollar Fish Season 9!

Tips to be Crocwise

Whenever you’re near the ocean, a river, a lake, a billabong, or any body of water in the Top End, you are in croc country, so Be Crocwise.

The Territory is home to thousands of freshwater crocs and an estimated 100,000 salties, who sit firmly at the top of the food chain. Fishos, crocs are probably your biggest competition when it comes to bagging a barra.

They’ve also been known to attack boats and people, but if you remember to Be Crocwise, you’ll reduce your risk of a nasty encounter. Remember – salties can be found in freshwater or saltwater, so you are likely to see a croc or two on your fishing adventures. If you don’t see them, rest assured, they are there.

Did you know that our mates at TIO are giving free Crocodile Attack Insurance to everyone who registers for Million Dollar Fish?


  • Stay alert when launching or retrieving your boat
  • Don’t lean out of your boat or dangle your arms or legs over the side and remember, the smaller the boat, the bigger the risk
  • Stand at least five meters back from the water’s edge while fishing from land, and never stand on overhanging logs
  • Dispose of your fishing rubbish well away from the water’s edge
  • Do not enter or lean over the water to retrieve a lure
  • Obey all crocodile warning signs; they are there for your protection
  • Avoid paddling, cleaning fish, preparing food, washing or carrying out repetitive actions at the water’s edge or boatside
  • Always use landing nets when bringing in fish
  • Never provoke or harass crocodiles
  • Always report problem or aggressive crocodiles (in Darwin call 0419 822 859, in Katherine call 0407 958 405, in Kakadu call (08) 8938 1120)
  • If fishing at night, illuminate the outside of your boat so you can see what is around you, and stay back from the edge of the boat
  • Use wire crab traps to make it harder for crocodiles to access your bait and catch
  • Get out of the water as quickly as possible if you fall in
  • Do not interfere with crocodile traps


  • Camp at least 50m from the water’s edge
  • Avoid places where animals and livestock drink
  • Avoid returning to the same spot at the water’s edge to fill your bucket
  • Never prepare food, wash dishes or do other tasks near the water’s edge or next to sloping banks
  • Fill up your bucket and move away from the water’s edge quickly
  • Dispose of food scraps, fishing rubbish and other waste in bins away from your campsite, and check that other campers have not left these things behind

For more information visit www.becrocwise.nt.gov.au