29 November 2023

Territory fisherman doubles his money in Million Dollar Fish competition

| Andrew McLaughlin
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James McWikliam receives his $20,000 cheque for catching a $10,000 Barramundi during the ‘Double the Dough’ promotion period. Photo: NT Major Events.

A bonus promotion in the Northern Territory’s annual Million Dollar Fish tourism campaign has paid off for one lucky fisherman, who caught a Barramundi with a $10,000 tag just hours before the end of the promotion.

James McWilliam was fishing near Crab Claw Island Resort south-west of Darwin on 19 November when he caught the 82 cm Barramundi at Bynoe Harbour. James is an Australian Defence Force member and had been invited fishing by his mates just before being posted to Sydney.

The ‘Double the Dough’ promotion, which ended later that day, meant his $10,000 fish was actually worth $20,000.

“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 was stoked. I’m still shaking.

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

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Each year, the NT Government releases Barramundi across the Top End as part of the Million Dollar Fish campaign, and this year they were released in waterways across the Darwin, Kakadu, Tiwi Islands, Arnhem Land and Katherine regions. The campaign is run by the Northern Territory Major Events Corporation, with sponsorship from Sportsbet.

Now in its ninth year, the competition season runs from 1 October 2023 until 31 March 2024. As of late November, there were still 94 red-tagged $10,000 Barramundi and 11 $1 million tagged fish that are yet to be caught. Fishers must be pre-registered for the competition, and registration is free.

James gave some of the prizemoney to his fishing mates, some to his Mum, and $1000 to the Starlight Foundation charity, which Sportsbet also doubled.

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, and on behalf of the Darwin Star Ball Committee and Starlight Children’s Foundation we thank James McWilliam for his thoughtful donation.”

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