The saratoga, otherwise known as the Dawson River barramundi, may not be a good table fish but its fighting prowess has few comparisons in Australian waters. This has been the key to the success of the Baralaba Saratoga Fishing Classic held annually.
The residents of the small Central Queensland town of Baralaba jealously guard their iconic fish as well as continue to ensure its river environment is suitable. Located on the Dawson River, a tributary of the mighty Fitzroy, Baralaba is a town of about 150 residents 100km west of Rockhampton. During the tournament, the town’s population doubles and the event is the major fundraiser for the community organisation.
This year local knowledge proved invaluable with most of the competition prizes going to those who know the area and the territorial habits of the saratoga. More than 220 anglers of all age groups made the town home for the weekend while also trying to capture part of the $1700 prize money on offer.
Resident mechanic and fish stocking group president, Robbie Price, said the Dawson River was the big winner on the day with the restocking group now able to buy several thousand more fingerlings with the money raised during the event.
Mr Price said visitors came from all parts of the State and there were plenty of fish landed. The fishing classic is the town's largest event and this year's winner of the heaviest saratoga was Kelly Bloxsom with a 2.6kg fish who also pocketed the $1000 cash prize.
It was a big weekend for local 12yr old Eric Byrne who landed a 2.11kg saratoga for a $500 reward for second prize and best junior angler.
Other winners were: Leitham Foden (3rd Heaviest Saratoga), Rhylee Bayles (Most Species Caught), Troy Barbeler (Junior Angler), Karen Barbeler (Heaviest Fish Caught by a Female), Ashley Stevens (Heaviest Sleepy Cod), Barry Phipps (Heaviest Catfish), Hanah Ohl (Heaviest Butterjew), Viv Oldfield (Heaviest Black Bream), and Kolbe Butler.Reads: 1273