Borroloola fisho lands $10K Barra

The first red-tagged barra has been reeled in for 2024 by Borroloola resident James Mawson.

This is the eighth $10,000 barra caught in Season 9 of Million Dollar Fish, with $90,000 now awarded to lucky anglers across this season of Australia’s richest fishing competition

James was fishing 2kms upstream of the Borroloola Crossing on Monday, 22 January, when he managed to lure in one expensive fish. Every time a fisho catches a $10,000 barra, they can donate an extra $1,000 to the Million Dollar Fish charity of their choice. James chose Starlight Children’s Foundation Darwin Star Ball.

James Mawson said he was shocked when he reeled in the prize-winning fish.

“It was just another fishing day for us. Just get out there and have a go, you never know, it was just a normal day out fishing. I wasn’t expecting to go home with a red tag.”

It comes as Million Dollar Fish, underwritten by SportsBet, has announced there are now a whopping 24 barra with tags worth a million bucks, the most in the history of the competition.

There are still 103 barramundi waiting to be caught as part of Million Dollar Fish Season 9. That includes the 24 fish carrying a tag worth a million bucks. The change means there is about a one-in-four chance of your fish being worth a million if you reel in a Season 9 red-tagged barra.

SportsBet NT Operations and Partnerships Manager Thijs Bors says 2024 is off to a cracking start with James catching a 65cm beauty out at Borroloola.

“It goes to show the tagged barra are everywhere and you’ve got a shot at catching one all over the Top End,” he said.

“SportsBet is excited to see who else reels in a $10,000 barra or the life-changing barra worth a million bucks!”

Delivered by Northern Territory Major Events Company on behalf of the Territory Government, the Million Dollar Fish Season 8 competition injected a total expenditure stimulus of $70.8 million into the Territory.

NT fishing competition now offers 24 x barra worth a million bucks for 2024!

There are now more chances than ever, 24 in fact, to reel in a life-changing barramundi in the Northern Territory thanks to Australia’s richest fishing competition, Million Dollar Fish.

Joining the 12 x $1m barra already released, an extra 12 fish have now been tagged as $1m fish. This means there are 24 ‘big ones’ out there – the most in the history of the competition.

There are also 80 x $10,000 barra to be caught.

Million Dollar Fish, supported by SportsBet, is run by Northern Territory Major Events Company. CEO Suzana Bishop says someone is guaranteed to reel in a million dollars during Season 9, and the odds have never been better.

“We’ve kicked off 2024 with the most million-dollar fish ever and we are definitely giving away a million dollars this season, so there has never been a better time to visit the Northern Territory,” she says.

“This is a unique competition in a unique destination. Nowhere else in the world could fishing change your life like this. Head to the Top End and enjoy world-class fishing in our pristine waterways, plus the chance to become a millionaire!”

There are now 24 fish sporting $1m tags as part of Million Dollar Fish Season 9
There are now 24 fish sporting $1m tags as part of Million Dollar Fish Season 9

SportsBet NT Operations and Partnerships Manager Thijs Bors says there is just a few months of Million Dollar Fish Season 9 left.

“As the major sponsor of Million Dollar Fish, SportsBet is thrilled to be playing a part in making one lucky fisho a millionaire and helping dozens of others become $10,000 richer,” he says.

“With less than 10 weeks of Season 9 left, now is the time to register and get out on the water before it’s too late!”

Once a $1m fish is caught, all remaining fish, including those tagged at $1m, will become $10,000 fish.

Season 9 runs from 1 October 2023 to 31 March 2024. To claim any prize money from a tagged fish, you must be registered for Season 9 of Million Dollar Fish. This also automatically enters you into the Lucky Prize Pool, which includes thousands of dollars’ worth of prizes up for grabs. Register now for free at www.milliondollarfish.com.au.

Third time lucky and another $10,000 for Territory fisho

Dedicated fisho Jack Daly, from Nauiyu/Daly River, has pocketed himself $10,000 just in time for Christmas after hooking a Million Dollar Fish Season 9 red-tagged barramundi. Persistence has paid off again for Jack, with this the third $10,000 barra he has caught since the competition began.

Jack, 35, reeled in his latest prize-winning catch, a 58cm barra, at Daly River Crossing on Friday. Jack had been down at the crossing on Friday from 7.30pm when several hours later he reeled in the red-tagged fish on a plastic lure. He said his secret to catching barra was consistency, often fishing most nights.  Over the moon with his latest catch, he said his two kids had drafted up a Christmas wish list after learning he had hooked a red-tagged barra.

“I thought I’d never catch any this year but the water came up a little bit and then started dropping again and then I caught this on the crossing,” Jack said.

“I go fishing nearly every night, or when I get the chance to if I’m not working at night, I’ll go fishing. That’s just something I love doing every day or every night anyway when it’s nice and cool.

“The key is consistency. If you keep fishing every night, anything could happen, you know? That’s all it takes just a bit of time fishing at night or day, and you’ll never know you’ll get a red tag.”

Million Dollar Fish sees prize-tagged barramundi released in waterways across the Darwin, Kakadu, Tiwi Islands, Arnhem Land and Katherine regions. This season someone is guaranteed to win a million dollars. The season runs from 1 October 2023 until 31 March 2024.

It is the seventh $10,000 barra to be caught in Season 9 of Australia’s richest fishing competition, supported by SportsBet.

Seven $10,000 barra caught in the first nine weeks of Season 9

SportsBet NT Operations and Partnerships Manager Thijs Bors said seven $10,000 barra had now been caught in the first nine weeks of Season 9.

“Congratulations to Nauiyu/Daly River resident, Jack, who has now reeled in his third $10,000 fish since Million Dollar Fish began in 2015,” he said.

“With more red-tagged Million Dollar Fish out there than ever before, the odds are definitely in favour of the fishos this season. We’re getting closer and closer to giving away the million and SportsBet can’t wait.”

Each time a fisho catches a $10,000 barra, they can donate an extra $1,000 to the Million Dollar Fish charity of their choice. Jack is giving the $1,000 to Riding for the Disabled Association Top End.

Riding for the Disabled Association Top End President Tania Lesneuck said: “We are excited to hear that Jack chose to share his Million Dollar Fish joy with RDA Top End! His donation will bring smiles to our riders and horses”.

There is still 92 red-tagged $10,000 barra out there, plus 12 barra sporting the big million-dollar tags released since the competition began. All are eligible to be caught.

To claim any cash from a red-tagged barra, a fisho must be registered for Million Dollar Fish. Registering is free and easy. Anyone who registers automatically goes in the monthly Lucky Prize Pool to win thousands of dollars’ worth of prizes.

Lucky fisho doubles the dough in Season 9

Season 9 of Australia’s richest fishing competition is heating up, with fisho James McWilliam pocketing himself $20,000 after hooking a Season 9 red-tagged barramundi. Carrying a $10,000 red tag, the fish was worth double the money as part of the popular ‘Double the Dough’ campaign, which ran over the weekend.

James, who luckily called the Million Dollar Fish number to say he caught a red-tagged barra an hour before the Double the Dough initiative finished, reeled in his lucrative 82cm catch at lunchtime on Sunday, 19 November.

A member of Defence, James was on a day fishing trip with mates in Bynoe Harbour near Crab Claw Island Resort.

“They said they’d take me out on a fishing trip as I’d just got a new posting to Sydney, and it’s always been on my bucket list to catch a barra,” he said.

“We weren’t having that much luck and two of my mates were making sandwiches when I snagged the barra. I could tell he was big and my mates coached me as I reeled it in. We didn’t see the red-tag until it was in the boat and we all went crazy. I’m still shaking.”

Million Dollar Fish, supported by SportsBet, sees prize-tagged barramundi released in waterways across the Darwin, Kakadu, Tiwi Islands, Arnhem Land and Katherine regions. This season a fisho is guaranteed to win a million dollars. The season runs from 1 October 2023 until 31 March 2024.

“I’m glad I rang the Million Dollar Fish line”

James, who hails from Victoria, said they didn’t get back to Darwin from their day on the water until late as they decided to continue fishing, and then had to wait for the tide to rise.

“I was about to go to bed when I thought I better ring the Million Dollar Fish line. I’m so glad I did,” said James. “I didn’t realise it was Double the Dough. I’m going to share my winnings with my mates and my mum. I’ll also probably buy myself a new rod and some fishing gear.”

Each time a fisho catches a $10,000 barra, they can donate an extra $1,000 to the Million Dollar Fish charity of their choice. SportsBet doubled the charity money for this fish, and James decided to give the $2,000 to Starlight Children’s Foundation.

Starlight Children’s Foundation Hospital Program Manager NT Jesse Butler said Starlight relies on community support to help the organisation deliver happiness to sick kids in the Territory.

“We’re so grateful to be involved in Million Dollar Fish again this year,” she said. “On behalf of the Darwin Star Ball Committee and Starlight Children’s Foundation we thank James McWilliam for his thoughtful donation.”

Six lucky fishos have now bagged themselves a $10,000 barra since Season 9 began on 1 October 2023. There are still 94 red-tagged $10,000 barra out there, plus the 11 sporting the big million-dollar tags.

To claim any cash from a red-tagged barra, a fisho must be registered for Million Dollar Fish. Registering is free and easy. Anyone who registers automatically goes in the monthly Lucky Prize Pool to win thousands of dollars’ worth of prizes. Click here to register.

Double the Dough back for Season 9 as fifth fish caught!

Pack your tackle box and get ready to hit the water this weekend – Double the Dough is back for Million Dollar Fish Season 9, supported by SportsBet! The return of Double the Dough comes as a fifth $10,000 fish was reeled in on Wednesday by lucky fisho David Anker.

Double the Dough is a favourite among fishos. The initiative means whoever reels in the first $10,000 Season 9 red-tagged barra between 12am on Saturday, 18 November and 11.59pm on Sunday, 19 November 2023 will receive $20,000 instead of $10,000. The fisho MUST be registered for Season 9 and Double the Dough does not apply to the 11 fish carrying tags worth a million bucks.

DAVID REELS IN THE CASH

David, moved to the Territory from New South Wales with his family in January. Fishing on his own at Woods Inlet, he bagged the 85cm barra sporting a red tag. The fish was released at Milne Arm in Bynoe Harbour, a whopping 78km away. David said he was excited to show off his prized catch to his southerner mates about to visit.

“It’s really exciting I almost see it (winning $10,000) as a bonus, I feel like you don’t need a huge amount of incentive most of the time to be fishing up here, because the fishing is amazing but also if you’re not catching fish there’s so much amazing stuff to see. I’ve seen some incredible wildlife out there even when I’m not catching fish,” David said.

“It’s a pretty nice bonus to have $10,000 for catching a fish and it’s actually the biggest barra I’ve caught even without the tag. When I pulled it in I was excited about the fish before I saw the tag and even without the tag it would have been a great day.

“Probably the first thing that went through my head was that it might cover my fuel bills for burning across the harbor all year in an old two stroke.

“I think that’s the other reason why some of my Darwin friends will be particularly excited is because I’m not a great fisherman. I’ve spent so many hours out there not catching fish, but I do love it anyway. This (winning $10,000) does mean that I might break even for a year of fishing.”

Every time a fisho catches a $10,000 barra, they can donate an extra $1,000 to the Million Dollar Fish charity of their choice. David chose Shoreline.

DOUBLE THE DOUGH RAISES THE STAKES

SportsBet NT Operations and Partnerships Manager Thijs Bors says SportsBet is thrilled to once again be raising the stakes and offering up $20k to the angler who snags the first $10k barra caught this weekend.

“Remember, there are still 11 million-dollar barra out there in Top End waters. This is the greatest and richest fishing comp in Australia, and we can’t wait to give away the million,” he said.

Five lucky fishos have now bagged themselves a $10,000 barra since Season 9 began on 1 October 2023. There are still 95 red-tagged $10,000 barra out there; plus the 11 sporting the big million-dollar tags. Tagged barra have been released in each of the Top End’s world-class fishing regions including Tiwi Islands, Darwin, Katherine, Kakadu and Arnhem Land.

Fourth red-tagged $10,000 barra reeled in for Season 9

Darwin resident Beau Cartledge has reeled in the fourth $10,000 red-tagged barra of Million Dollar Fish Season 9.

Beau hooked the 76cm barra while out fishing at Shoal Bay on Friday, 10 November, with his best mate Dean Lucas. Dean was visiting from Western Australia, and the mates will share the windfall.

Supported by SportsBet, Million Dollar Fish sees prize-tagged barramundi released in waterways across the Darwin, Kakadu, Tiwi Islands, Arnhem Land and Katherine regions. This season someone is guaranteed to win a million dollars. The season runs from 1 October 2023 until 31 March 2024.

Keen fishermen Beau and Dean were fishing at Shoal Bay early on Friday morning when Beau reeled in the red-tagged barra. The mates had agreed they’d split the cash if either one of them caught a prize-winning barra.

“Dean and I had spoken about catching the Million Dollar Fish and we were just fishing pretty much,” said Beau. “We’d caught a couple, and we were fishing in an area where there was heaps of fish and we could see signs of good fish.

“We just fished and caught fish, and it was good when the fish hit the deck. We’d both seen the tag at the time, so it was pretty wild.”

“You never think catching a red-tagged barra can happen to you”

Beau has registered for Million Dollar Fish for nine years to catch a red-tagged fish. “You never think it can happen to you,” he said. “It’s always there in the back of your mind, but … you sort of understand that 100 (tagged) barra that people let go compared to how many barra are out there in Darwin waters is unfathomable.”

Beau hasn’t decided what he’ll do with his share. His mate Dean, who hails from Karratha, said he’d love to spend his cash on another trip to the NT with his family.

Every time a fisho catches a $10,000 barra, they can donate an extra $1,000 to the Million Dollar Fish charity of their choice. Beau chose Starlight Children’s Foundation Darwin Star Ball.

Star Ball Committee Chairman Justin Coleman said they were so thankful to Beau and all those involved with Season 9. “Starlight provides vital hospital programs in the Northern Territory for our sick kids,” he said.

“Only with the help of the local community can we continue to bring the gift of joy, fun and laughter, helping to create brighter and healthier futures for our kids, families and communities.”

There are now 96 $10,000 barramundi swimming in Territory waterways, plus 11 barra carrying tags worth a million dollars. That includes the two million-dollar barra released for Season 9, and those released for previous seasons. All are still eligible to be caught.

To claim any prize money from a tagged fish, a fisho must be registered for Season 9. This also automatically enters them into the Lucky Prize Pool, which includes thousands of dollars’ worth of prizes up for grabs, such as holiday and flight packages, and fishing and camping gear. Register now for free at www.milliondollarfish.com.au.

 

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!

First red-tagged barra caught just three hours into Season 9

The barra are really biting for Million Dollar Fish, with one lucky angler hooking the first catch of the season within hours of Season 9 of the fishing competition beginning!

Zain Lopez was fishing at Stokes Hill Wharf by the Darwin CBD at 3am on 1 October 2023 when he hooked himself a red-tagged barra worth $10,000.

“I’ve fished that spot so many times and couldn’t believe it when I reeled in a barra with a red tag! My partner and I were speechless,” he said. “I caught the fish on my second cast. I go fishing most weekends when I can, and there is even more incentive and motivation to get out and wet a line now thanks to Million Dollar Fish. I’ll keep on fishing for more red-tagged barra!”

Bag $10k or a million bucks

The Million Dollar Fish fishing competition offers anglers the chance to bag $10,000 or become a millionaire by catching a red-tagged barra. With the million guaranteed to be reeled in this year, there’s never been a better reason to fish the Top End. Tagged fish have been released across the Territory’s main fishing regions – Darwin, Kakadu, Tiwi Islands, Arnhem Land and Katherine.

Each time a $10,000 barra is caught, the lucky fisho can donate an additional $1,000 to a Million Dollar Fish Season 9 Official Charity Partner. A further $10,000 will be donated to an Official Charity Partner when a Million Dollar Fish is reeled in. Official Charity Partners are Cancer Council NT, Shoreline, Starlight Children’s Foundation Darwin Star Ball and for the first time, Riding for the Disabled Association Top End. Zain chose Starlight.

Season 9 of Australia’s richest fishing competition began on 1 October 2023 and runs until 31 March 2024. Remember, you must be registered for Season 9 to claim the prize money if you catch a red-tagged barra.

This also automatically enters you into the monthly Lucky Prize Pool. Epic prizes include return airfares to Darwin with Airnorth, Britz campervan getaways, Great Northern vouchers, Engel goodies, Shimano Fishing Packs and more. Register for free here.

Size really does matter when picking the perfect lure

When it comes to catching barramundi and deciding what lure to use, size really does matter.

Barramundi are a jumping, fighting and lure-smashing Australian icon. No other fish quite evokes the same sense of action and adventure.

So it’s important to know from the outset on the size of lure you’d like to use.

When it comes to chasing big barramundi, it’s hard to go past using big lures. If you have ever caught a whopper, you will know just how big that bucket mouth is and why they have an appetite to suit.

For this reason, larger barra will prefer to feed on larger sized baitfish often over the 20cm mark or a 15-17cm soft plastic. Remember, an inferior lure might not be able to hold up against the might of a metery.

Good things come in small packages

If you’re targeting smaller fish, you may want to drop down to a 7-10cm soft plastic. Good things can come in small packages so it’s worth keeping in mind that a big barra will always eat a smaller lure but a little barra may shy away from a larger lure.

A slow approach is also desired. No quickies, here. Barramundi, even when they are at their hungriest, love a slow-rolled lure. This can be worked at super slow speeds with maximum action. Being able to fish your lure slowly also adds to added visibility under the water.

Don’t be scared to switch up your lures from time to time, either. Variety is definitely the spice of life and fishing.

Experiment, too, with several sorts and colours (you can’t go wrong with a pack of paddle tail soft plastics and a pack of Gold Bomber hard plastics) until you find the one that works best for you.

Happy fishing! And make sure you’re registered before you hit the water.