Australia’s richest fishing competition reels in million dollar dream

Australia’s richest fishing competition, Million Dollar Fish, releases two barramundi worth a million dollars. This is for Season 9 of of the competition which opened on Sunday, 1 October 2023.

There’s now 11 million-dollar barra swimming in the Territory’s pristine waterways in the competition, underwritten by SportsBet.

Competition organiser Northern Territory Major Events Company (NTMEC) confirms a winner will take home a million dollars during Season 9. So now’s the time to book a trip to the Northern Territory’s Top End and wet a line.

Releasing two ‘big ones’ is the first in a raft of initiatives ensuring a lucky angler reels in a million bucks. We will reveal further initiatives as Australia’s richest fishing competition progresses.

As well as the two fish carrying million-dollar red tags, 100 barramundi sporting a $10,000 tag were released across the Top End’s pristine fishing regions of Darwin, Katherine, Kakadu, Arnhem Land and the Tiwi Islands. The Territory has some of the best fishing in the country with anglers able to fish creeks, billabongs, rivers and the blue water.

11 chances to catch a million dollars in Australia’s richest fishing competition

We have paid out $925,000 to anglers since Million Dollar Fish began in 2015. This is for fishos who hooked a $10k red-tagged barra, with the million-dollar barra not reeled in, yet.

For Season 9, 11 barramundi with a million-dollar tag are eligible to be caught, meaning there’s 11 chances to catch a million dollars. Once a million-dollar tagged fish is hooked, all other million-dollar tagged fish revert to $10K for the rest of Season 9.

NTMEC delivers Million Dollar Fish on behalf of the Northern Territory Government. NTMEC CEO Suzana Bishop expects record-breaking registrations for the biggest prize pool yet.

“We saw record registrations for Season 8, and the most fish caught – 20!,” Mrs Bishop said. “With enthusiasm for Season 9 so high, thanks to the promise the million will go off, it looks set to be even bigger.

“More than 16,000 eager anglers have already registered for free, and many are from interstate. This is great news for the Territory as they head here to enjoy the holiday of a lifetime.”

Season 8 of Million Dollar Fish reels in big bucks

Season 8 of Million Dollar Fish generated a total expenditure stimulus of $70.8 million, 33.3 per cent ($23.6 million) of which was new money to the Top End region.

It also delivers for the community, with winning fishos able to donate $1,000 to an Official Charity Partner when they snag a $10,000 barra.

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 Riding for the Disabled Association Top End.

SportsBet NT Operations and Partnerships Manager Thijs Bors said the competition has lured in anglers from all over the world.

“The Territory has the best fishing, the best people and the best lifestyle. It also offers you the chance to catch a million dollars. Why would you go anywhere else on holiday?” he said.

Only those registered for Season 9 can claim any cash from a red-tagged barra.


Barra lifecycles – not as simple as we once thought!

How well do you reckon you know your barra? We caught up with our mates at Fisheries NT who taught us a thing or two about their lifecycles!

In the traditional barramundi lifecycle, sexually mature females hang around the entrances of rivers and estuaries to spawn. From there, larvae move into swamps and mangroves where they remain for several months before they move into the freshwater rivers, floodplains and billabongs. It’s not until they’re ready to spawn as males that they return to the salt water, and eventually change sex to female at around 80cm.

However, recent research has suggested that our beloved barramundi are able to adapt to suit their environmental conditions, and their life cycles aren’t as simple as first predicted. Research conducted in collaboration between the Fisheries Division NT and Charles Darwin University has suggested that there are at least three different types of barramundi lifecycles.

Using acoustic transmitters, researchers were able to monitor 25 tagged barramundi as they migrated between fresh and salt water. Apart from the traditional model, the two additional life cycles are ‘Estuarine’ and ‘Delayed Female Spawning’. Some are choosing to remain entirely in salt water, and although these fish may choose to undertake occasional trips upstream their life is predominantly spent in coastal habitats. Others are morphing into females prior to their downstream migration, meaning they are moving down stream at much larger sizes and perhaps spawning later in their lives.
Understanding these new lifecycles might also explain why you’re still able to catch larger barra up in the freshwater during the Build Up when the traditional life cycle suggests they should have made their way to the river mouths for spawning. Researchers have also flagged that barramundi (being as clever as they are) are likely to keep evolving as the environmental conditions change around them.

Why wetting a line in the Wet is a good idea

A La Niña was recently declared by the Bureau of Meteorology signalling above-average rainfall for Northern Australia, bringing cooler and cloudier days, more tropical cyclones and an early onset of the Wet Season across the North.

This is great news for fishers as barramundi numbers are directly affected by the amount of rainfall a river catchment receives in a Wet Season.

In a high rainfall year when conditions are good for barramundi (that is, extended access to flood plains and lots of food), they grow faster and reproduction is boosted. Ultimately more rain equals more food, which equals more barramundi.

The Northern Territory has just gone through a two year period of lower than average rainfall and with it lower productivity of our barramundi population.

While fishers may be champing at the bit to have a go at the improved barramundi stocks, they should remember to fish sustainably. This means knowing your possession limits and only taking what you need for a feed.

To find out more, head to

MDF at National Barramundi Day!

We all love barra and what better way to celebrate this Top End icon (apart from snagging a Million Dollar Fish tagged barra) than by heading down to the Darwin Waterfront’s National Barramundi Day gig this evening?

From 5-8pm you can sign up for Million Dollar Fish (if you haven’t got your act together yet) and go in the draw to win one of 10 $100 Darwin Waterfront gift cards.

If you’re looking for a feed, check out the Million Dollar Dishes being served at a range of Darwin Waterfront bars and restaurants to celebrate our famous barra and the Million Dollar Fish competition. We’ve worked with venues to bring you some top tucker. Can’t make it this evening? Don’t worry, the dishes will be available until 31 March 2021.

Today from 5pm there will also be casting practices, demonstrations, face painting, live music, entertainment for the littlies and more. Top of the list is surely a selfie with Baz the Barra.

Releasing barramundi means sustainable fishing

An increasing number of barramundi caught by recreational fishers are now released after capture. That barra you catch may not be the Million Dollar Fish but should be handled carefully.

When releasing fish, NT Fisheries recommends:

  • Minimising the time out of the water so the fish can be returned to the water as quickly as possible.
  • Use fish-friendly knotless landing nets to minimise injuries and fin damage.
  • Get your camera or phone ready to take that image before you take the fish out of the water and begin handling it.
  • Wet down your measuring board before measuring a fish and never lay the fish on a hot, dry surface.
  • If holding a fish, support its weight with both hands and don’t suspend it vertically by its jaw.
  • Release the fish into bank side cover or snags which provide protection while the fish recovers.

It is the responsibility of all recreational fishers involved in the Million Dollar Fish competition to ensure that all fish released have the best chance of survival. This will ensure the sustainability of our fish for the future.