The Barra Nationals is an icon on the national fishing tournament scene. Currently the largest competition in the NT with 70 teams, 210 anglers registered to fish the iconic Daly River. The history of this tournament has regularly seen it at the forefront of innovation, marketing and how to have fun.
The event attracts enormous interest with teams coming from all corners of Australia and internationally vying for the exclusive spots available. The 2023 EOI process saw 137 entries competing for the 70 positions, a tough task for the small volunteer subcommittee of the Palmerston Game Fishing Club who own the competition.
Due to the nonstop weeklong cycle of fishing, fun and entertainment the event is a serious test of determination and stamina. Most competitors go home needing a long rest to recover. The bonds that exists amongst the anglers in the Barra Nationals family is exceptional with many long term friendships being made and renewed year after year.
A particular angler has been farewelled no less than four times at his ‘last Nats’ only to return the next years, and after an on water mishap that resulted in some broken bones in 2022, he’ll be back for his last Nats in 2023 ( you’ll be back in 2024 Roger!)
The Barra Nationals was originally conceived by the Palmerston Game Fishing Club in 1996 with a focus on providing an avenue for the average angler to fish and experience a world class fishing tournament. Competitors at the Nats via for a myriad of team and individual prizes with the most coveted being Champion Team and Champion Angler. 2022 culminated with over $175,000 of prizes and giveaways, making the Nats the Territory’s, if not the nations biggest Barramundi tournament prize pool.
Over the years, this tournament has become a cornerstone of the Australian fishing calendar, drawing hundreds of visitors to the region and generating significant economic activity for the local community. The group of passionate anglers who developed the first competition wanted to promote sustainable fishing practices and raise awareness about the importance of conserving the local barramundi population.
From the outset, the Barra Nationals was recognised as a celebration of fishing, culture, and community, focused on the amateur angler, the competition for anyone. It’s no surprise, then, that the tournament has become an integral part of the Northern Territory’s social fabric, with many local businesses, organisations, and individuals rallying behind the event to offer their support in a range of different ways.
Coordinator Adam White says that the succuss of the Nats is due to the commitment of the anglers and generosity of the sponsors and community. Palmerston Game Fishing Club President Darryl Smart recognises the efforts of the Nats organising committee over the years, but also the volunteers from all over the country that come to help and those locally that make trip to the Daly to ensure ‘The Ultimate Tournament’ comes off without a hitch.
‘It’s the time and effort, the blood sweat and tears of the sub committee, and often the PGFC committee in the background that make it work’ Daryl says, he encourages anyone who is interested to call Adam, the coordinator and have the chat about coming along for the experience.
Local businesses and organisations also play a critical role in promoting the Barra Nationals and raising awareness about the event. Many shops, hotels, and restaurants in the region display posters, flyers, and other promotional materials to encourage visitors to attend the tournament. In doing so, they help to attract a wider audience to the Northern Territory, boosting tourism and creating new opportunities for growth and development.
2023 sees the 27th Barra Nats commence on the 15th of April, Champion Team 2022 Tackleworld Revos, headed by skipper Shane Compain will be back to defend their title, Shane picking up 3 Metre plus Barra and inducting himself into the Hoskins Jewellers Barra Nats 1 Metre Club, as did with team mate Terry Ryan, both now sporting the gold and diamond encrusted Metre Barra ring, they’ll set the bar high and continue to dominate the river.
Champion Angler 2022 Kai Robb also makes a return, from his first Nats last year he’ll be a sporting chance to take the throne again in 2023, but has some tough competition with some new faces again in 2023. Out of a field of 210 anglers there are 76 rookies, who will don the rookie neck buff and need to keep it on until they land that first all important Barra.
Small rule changes again in 2023 will keep the competition fresh and on the leading edge of fishing tournaments, revised minimum lengths, bag limits and use of attractants are all being reviewed, the one stand out rule that will remain in force from 2022 is that the Nats will continue the move away from barbless only hooks. A somewhat controversial move last year but one that anglers agreed was a step in the right direction for the competition. Use of electronics while fishing has become the new norm and the with evolving technologies the Weighmaster will be keep abreast of how the tournament copes with the domination of live and active systems.
Overall, the Barra Nationals is a remarkable achievement that owes much of its success to the enduring commitment and support of the local community, as well as the generous contributions of sponsors and partners. Through their collective efforts, these stakeholders have helped to create a world-class event, renowned on the angling calendar.
The Nats will open EOIs for the 2024 competition at presentation night, 21 April, this year, details will be on the Nats Facebook page and website, those interested in fishing the Nats or supporting as a sponsor or volunteer should call Adam on 0402 867 316 or email email@example.com