Rocky Barra Bounty champion individual angler Craig Griffiths with one of his catches.
Rocky Barra Bounty champion individual angler Craig Griffiths with one of his catches. Contributed

Exciting future predicted for Rocky barra events

ALTHOUGH the number of fish caught at this year's Rocky Barra Bounty was down on previous years, event organisers were confident of future successes.

Captures of barramundi and other species at this year's annual bounty were less due to the Fitzroy River being affected by a major influx of freshwater flooding from recent inland rain.

Two hundred and fifty-six barra were recorded, compared to previous years when catches of between 400 and more than 1000 were registered. Anglers with local knowledge like Craig Griffiths and Steve Pill were most successful.

Thirty-four threadfin (king and blue) were caught in the unseasonal river conditions, compared to 570 a year earlier.

"It's hard work out there,'' one angler said after checking in at headquarters having caught just two barra for the day.

"You really have to smack them on the nose and even then they won't always take it,'' event organiser Stefan Sawynok said.

However, the Track My Fish tournament app introduced this year will be valuable at future competitions when the barramundi nursery returns to normal in the Fitzroy River.

Competitions like the annual Rocky Barra Bounty help gather vital data on where fish are living, their growth rates and feeding patterns.

"In the first event that we ran in 1999 - and this shows how far technology has come in that time - we actually did it with staple cameras,'' Sawynok said.

"Each fish was photographed. We had to race the film to the local chemist (for processing) and they would race the photos back to us.''

The Track My Fish app has changed all that.

Sawynok said the app proved most valuable when everyone was fishing harder to increase their capture rates.

"The last day is always a bit hectic because it's a half day and everyone is fishing their absolute guts out,'' he said.

"When the fishing conditions are lined up almost perfectly, it's bedlam.

"Once the barra fishery has stabilised again, I think that you'll find that the typical average year of the bounty will be somewhere between 800 and 1200 fish.

"The competitors are not going to complain about 800-1200 barra and when you put on top of that, another 500 fish (like threadfin). That's the reason why we've got an app.

"The one year where we did it with 1200 fish, they had to have three people running the phones. It was just absolutely insane.''

Money raised from the annual bounty buys fingerlings 15-30cm in length. Fish this size have better survival rates when restocked into the Fitzroy River system.

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