Blue Swimmer Crab Changes and What it Means For You

Overview

  • More protection for the female crab breeding stock will ensure bigger, better crabs in the near future.
  • Permanent removal of commercial fishing licences in Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds and from Mandurah to Bunbury through a voluntary buyback scheme will ensure more protection for the female crab breeding stock and more and bigger crabs to fish for.
  • The buy-back of commercial fishing licences in Cockburn Sound opens the real possibility for recreational crab fishing in the Sound.
  • Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) proposed blanket five-month closure and 11pm to 4am night fishing curfew dropped.

Cockburn Sound

  • The buy-back of commercial fishing licences in Cockburn Sound opens the real possibility for recreational crab fishing in the Sound by next year.
Blue swimmer crabbing is closed from 1 September and 30 November within this area

Swan/Canning River

  • Bag limit of five crabs, boat limit stays the same at 20.
  • Introduction of a seasonal closure –September 1st to November 30th.

Peel/Harvey Estuary

  • Bag limit of 10 crabs and boat limit of 20 stays the same.
  • Seasonal closure extended by a month now running from September 1st to November 30th
  • The closure extension will mean more quality crabs to go at in December once they’ve had a chance to complete their spring moults.

Geographe Bay

  • Bag limit stays the same at 10 crabs but now a maximum of five females, boat limit stays the same and still no seasonal closure.
  • Proposed three-month closure dropped.
  • Introduction of a female crab limit will offer more protection to the female crab breeding stock resulting in more, bigger crabs and better crabbing in the near future.

Click here to read Recfishwest’s Media Release.

Click here to read Recfishwest’s supporting news article.

Get ‘Trout And About’ in our South-west Freshwater Ways and give Trout Fishing a Go.

Trout fishing in south-west freshwater fisheries is a great way to catch beautiful fish in some truly scenic settings and isn’t that hard to do. In this article, Recfishwest staff member and self-confessed ‘trout tragic, Nick Drummond, takes a look at some of the basics you need to know to give this fun form of fishing a go, as we gear up for our annual Troutfest event on Saturday August 31st

CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS GREAT EVENT

Nick’s personal best brown trout, it swiped the lure the night before and missed, luckily the next morning it was still hanging around and smacked the spinner!

Have you experienced the spectacular freshwater angling the South West has to offer?

If not, you’re missing out! From chasing radiant rainbow trout in serene  Karri-tree lined dams,  to casting lures or flys at cunning brown trout in streams, brooks and rivers where the bubbling water tumbles down the bends and stones, to trawling a wriggling lure behind your ‘yak at dawn on a still glassy lake waiting for that electric hit on your rod – trout fishing in south-west WA has something to offer anglers of all ages and experience.

We have a fantastic trout fishery in Western Australia, supported by a comprehensive trout stocking program, with which Recfishwest is closely involved in, ensuring there is a good distribution of these fabulous-looking sportfish in waters throughout the south-west region.  So, if you haven’t had a crack at trout fishing in WA – why not give it a go?

Winter rains get the brooks bubbling and the streams flowing with cool oxygenated water, something trout love!

What gear do I need?

If you’re a little daunted by starting out in an unfamiliar fishery, don’t be. Yes, there are a few considerations to figure out such as where exactly to go, how to fish the area, bite times, lures selection etc and some might be thinking, ‘Don’t I need one of those super special fancy fly rods to catch a trout?’ – no, you definitely don’t.  And if you keep it simple when you start out by using a light spin set-up, you won’t go far wrong and this gear can easily be as effective and often more effective then fly rods. The outfit only needs to be light; something you would use for herring, skippy, bream or whiting would be perfect. Using a lighter breaking strain line helps to cast further, especially when you can cast small shallow diving minnows, soft plastics and spinners that don’t have much weight to them.

Where do I fish?

There’s a host of majestic waters to explore in the South West – which is a great part of the attraction of trout fishing – wide-open dams, babbling brooks and rolling rivers – all have their own attraction and different ways you can approach them from a fishing perspective. Dams are significantly more accessible to novice anglers, closer to Perth, and a great place to start when getting into freshwater fishing. Streams, brooks and rivers usually involve much more hiking, 4WD-driving and exploring in order to find fishable locations.

Fishing in dams

You’ve got to make the most of the early mornings when the mist is still rolling off the water, someone forgot to tell the kelpie it was freezing cold though!

There is some damn good fishing to be had in the dams! There are many impoundments that hold good fish, with stand-outs being Waroona, Drakesbrook, Harvey, Logue Brook, Glen Mervyn and Big Brook – all great locations that are stocked annually and hold great fish. Late winter/early spring is generally the best time to be on the hunt in dams, when the water is cooler after winter rains have flown in through their tributaries. Dams can still produce fish all year round, but you just have to work harder for them and find the cooler water where the trout retreat to during the warmer months. Remember when trout fishing, it’s paramount that you fish the early mornings or late afternoon, as this is when the trout are fired up and, on the bite – particularly in impoundments. Yep, this means you will have to brave those ’fresh’ mornings when you can see your breath and feel the chill of the air on the tip of your nose, but this is when you will have the best chance – and it’s amazing how soon you warm up when hooked up to a lively south-west rainbow trout or if you’re really lucky a big brawny brown!

Waroona Dam has produced some good fish and some beautiful scenery, how’s the serenity!

Fishing in streams

The majority of streams and brooks flow through some of the beautiful bush that south-west WA has to offer. They twist their way through the valleys of karri trees and provide fishers with a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with nature while chasing a trout. Stream locations are mainly around Pemberton, including the Lefroy Brook, Warren and Donnelly river. Closer to the Metro area is the Collie Gorge below the Wellington Dam and the Murray River (Lane Pool area) can also produce good fish. When stream fishing you will often do quite a bit of hiking and cover a lot of ground searching for pools and areas moving on to the next area after a few casts in each of them. Fishing these waterways using a kayak is a really fun way to catch fish and gives you access to spots that you can’t reach from the bank.

What about the stocking program?

Stocking trout helps to sustain the populations found in our waterways. Though the trout colour up ready for the breeding season, doing their best to push up the streams and brooks in late winter, their spawning is very rarely successful.

This stream in the Pemberton area produced a few nice redfin and a follow from a trout, but no hook-up unfortunately!

To ensure an abundance of trout are on offer for fishers, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development along with the Pemberton Trout Hatchery stocks over 650,000 trout each year! Last year, a trial stocking of 3,500 advanced yearlings into a number of locations into south-west waterways was a huge success in the eyes of many freshwater anglers. This year there are 6,500 advanced yearlings being stocked, up by 3,000 fish on last year! These advanced yearlings are larger than the usual yearlings as they’re raised with more space and food to get them to a larger size of around 30cm before release. The increased size gives the advanced yearlings significantly better chances of survival in the south-west waterways avoiding being eaten by redfin, birds and larger trout. At 30cm, when caught, they also make for great fishing snaps to show off to your family and friends and on your social media.

CHECK OUT MORE ON FISH STOCKING AND LOCATIONS HERE

What else will I need to fish for trout?

There are some other bits and pieces that can make your trout fishing easier and more effective, but they’re not necessary when starting out. Waders are one of these freshwater fishing tools that you don’t need, but can help you in certain situations. They’re a great way to keep warm and dry when exploring the South West, and help you to reach locations people that want to keep their feet dry cannot. Polarised glasses help in nearly all fishing situations and help you to better spot fish and structure beneath the water’s surface.  Spotting fish in this way is something I’ve done in the clear waters of dams on a few occasions, though getting them to hit your lure is a different matter!

Shallow diving minnows work great for trout! Check out the rosy cheeks on this rainbow, looks like its beginning to colour up ready for spring.

A small landing net can be incredibly handy when you’re in the final moments of the fight and trying to subdue the slippery trout! Don’t forget your freshwater angling licence, required when fishing any freshwater body, above tidal influence. There is a licence- free weekend for freshwater fishing on the 31st of September and 1st of August, the same weekend as the Recfishwest’s Troutfest event at Drakesbrook dam. This may be a good opportunity to try freshwater fishing for free and explore the beautiful surrounding in WA’s South West.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT LURES AND GEAR FOR TROUT FISHING, CLICK HERE.

Fishers Turn up to Voice Concerns Over Outer Harbour

Late last month, Recfishwest attended a workshop hosted by the Wesport Taskforce aimed at identifying risks to recreational fishing should a decision be made to build a port facility in Cockburn Sound.

The workshop was attended by interested fishers who were given an opportunity to raise concerns and identify risks posed by any proposed development.

Plenty of healthy, robust discussion took place as fishers were asked to rate perceived risks around seagrass and marine habitat, recreational fishing and boat access, protecting fish and spawning conditions, as well as general water quality in the Sound.

All of the risks were considered to be high by those attending, who explained the reasons behind their concerns.

Cockburn Sound is already under considerable pressure from a range of man-made causes and those who attended echoed the sentiments of the broader fishing community around the increased impact that an outer harbour development in Cockburn Sound might have.

Recfishwest welcomed the opportunity to put forward the views and concerns of fishers into this dedicated consultation process.

That said, Recfishwest will not support any development that further impacts on Cockburn Sound fishing experiences, this includes a new outer harbour development option.

Although we are actively contributing to positive policy development through this process, we cannot guarantee what the final recommendation of the Westport Taskforce will be. What we can guarantee is that Recfishwest will continue to fight to protect pink snapper and the great fishing available in Cockburn Sound.

A Step Towards Bigger, Better Crabs in Perth and the South West

Recfishwest joined the Minister for Fisheries Dave Kelly in Mandurah and colleagues from the commercial fishing sector to announce a series of changes that represent a watershed moment in the management of the crab fisheries in Perth and the South West.

The significant reform will offer much more protection for the female crab breeding stock and secure a more resilient recreational crab fishery with more, bigger crabs and a better crabbing experience for everyone.

CLICK HERE TO SEE WHAT THE NEW CHANGES TO THE RULES WILL MEAN FOR YOU

Through some constructive negotiations with the Western Australian Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC), the Southern Seafood Producers WA (SSPWA), we reached a point of agreement that has secured the best outcome for recreational fishers given the very real sustainability issues the fishery was facing.

CLICK HERE TO SEE WHAT THE MINISTER HAD TO SAY

CLICK HERE TO READ RECFISHWEST’S MEDIA RELEASE

Taking on board the views of nearly 4,000 recreational fishers who responded to our survey on the initial discussion paper, we put forward 10 proposed management changes to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) in November last year.

The package announced by the Minister today met eight out of 10 of our recommendations – a great result, particularly in the context of what had been proposed.

A stark alternative

But before we got there, we were potentially looking down the barrel of a broad-scale five month closure from the Swan/Canning to Geographe Bay (inclusive) and a night curfew on crab fishing between 11pm and 4am.

This blunt proposal by DPIRD galvanized ourselves, WAFIC and the SSPWA to sit down and hammer out a joint response which would ensure we could get a sensible, better outcome by working together.

Had we ended up in a Mexican stand-off with the commercial sector and DPIRD, we could have seen the process painfully drag out – possibly for years – which would have been in no one’s interests and yet again delayed vital management intervention.

Instead, we arrived at the following positive outcomes for the recreational fishing community:

The sustainability of the crabs must come first.
  • A buy-back of commercial fishing licences from oceanic crab fisheries in Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds and from Mandurah to Bunbury, leading to their permanent closure and with an indication from the Minister that this will happen swiftly as a matter of priority.
  • The buy-back opens the door to the very real possibility of Cockburn Sound opening for recreational crab fishing in the near future.
  • A mixture of management measures introduced that will, within near future, result in better crabbing and bigger crabs and help to establish the Swan/Canning system as a trophy crab fishery right on Perth’s doorstep.
  • The blunt flat five-month closure across the resource and a night-time crab fishing curfew was averted avoiding impact on local businesses in Geographe Bay and Mandurah that benefit from crab fishers flocking to town. Instead, a three-month September to November closure has been introduced, excluding Geographe Bay which will remain open all year-round.
  • In Geographe Bay, a new limit of five female crabs within the bag limit of ten will ensure more female crabs remain in the system leading to bigger crabs and better crabbing in the near future.

Protecting a prized part of the WA lifestyle

How good is this? Isn’t this worth protecting?

Increasing pressure on Perth and South West crab stocks has taken its toll in recent years leading to an ongoing decline in the number of size crabs.

The writing has clearly been on the wall for some time and those of you who completed our survey on the future of the resource also backed our message loud and clear: the sustainability of the crabs must come first.

CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR RECOMMENDATIONS FOLLOWING YOUR RESPONSES TO OUR SURVEY

Negotiating the best outcome for our community
We will always do whatever it takes to ensure the best outcome for our members and our community. Delivering on that commitment was/is paramount for us for such an iconic fishery as this. That meant doing the wise and mature thing and working with our colleagues in the commercial sector to achieve the best outcome.

In the complex world of fisheries management, with the often fiercely competing interests of different sectors, being able to negotiate an outcome like this was a watershed moment.

Recfishwet is looking forward to seeing the flow-on effects of these management changes in the near future, resulting in many more people across the board enjoying better crabbing and catching bigger, better quality crabs.

Pink Snapper Need Our Help Again!

Minister Dave Kelly has provided his support for our proposal to increase protection for spawning snapper in and around Cockburn Sound.

You can find the details of the closure here.

You can read the story about the issue on WAToday here.

We would like to thank you all for your support of this proposal, without your support, we cant get stuff like this done!

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On Tuesday 9th July, we wrote:

Following last year’s pink snapper spawning season in Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds, Recfishwest held concerns over the effectiveness of the current rules in providing adequate protection for spawning snapper.

Recfishwest asked the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development to provide an update on current research, which was supplied yesterday.

Click here to view the Fisheries research update.

Recreational fishers have a long history of looking after pink snapper in Cockburn Sound. Each year, families release thousands of snapper fingerlings as part of the Snapper Guardians program.

This Fisheries research update indicates that:

  • There are fewer older snapper in the south-west/metro population than there should be;
  • There are a limited number of age classes in the population;
  • Pink snapper in spawning condition begin to gather in Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds in August and September; and,
  • Evidence suggests that fishers are actively targeting pre-spawning fish as they make their way to the spawning grounds.

What does all this mean?

Put simply, snapper require more protection, particularly during the spawning period when they are very easy to catch due to their schooling nature and predictable migration pathways.

Given this Fisheries research update, Recfishwest propose the following:

  1. An extension to the current spawning closure period to include September (currently October to January),
  2. An extension to the current closure area to outside of Garden and Carnac Islands (see map below).
Recfishwest’s proposed pink snapper spawning closed area from 1 September to 31 January

We believe these measures will provide adequate protection to spawning fish whilst still letting fishers catch pink snapper on the Five Fathom Bank and along the rock groynes at Fremantle.

These measures will allow fish to spawn undisturbed as well as provide protection along the known migration pathways to snapper spawning grounds.

The Cockburn Sound pink snapper spawning aggregations are the largest and most important on the lower west coast. The breeding success of these fish is critical to maintain the future of snapper across the region.

The right time to do the right thing is right now and we’d like to see these measures introduced immediately.

See what our CEO Dr Andrew Rowland had to say below:

Cooper Reef Recognised in Awards for Excellence

Throughout our great state there are plenty of stories of community champions rolling up their sleeves to make fishing better in their local area.

Graham accepting the award on behalf of the Esperance Deep Sea Angling Club

One such story is that of the Esperance Deep Sea Angling Club lead by local stalwart Graham Cooper and their work on the Esperance Artificial Reef, named Cooper Reef in Graham’s honour.

Their fantastic efforts were recognised on 29th June when the club took out the ‘Best Project’ in the small clubs category of the Clubs WA Awards for Excellence.  Recfishwest attended the awards event with Graham and fellow club member Nigel Worth.

Special Projects Award

Part of what made the recognition extra special was the fact that many club members literally built the reef with their own hands when they helped to pour dozens of the 128 concrete modules that now make up the reef.

Artificial reefs from Esperance to Exmouth continue to provide great fishing experiences for local communities. All of these projects were born out of dedicated local fishers who had a vision to improve fishing and the drive to make it happen.

Recfishwest are extremely proud to have been able to assist Graham and his team in delivering this exciting project for their local community.

Read more here in the Esperance express about the clubs great achievement.

Click here to find out more about Artificial reefs in WA including development information, location and how to fish them.

Family, friends and Recfishwest celebrating with Graham on Saturday evening

Reeling in a Bright Future For Fishing Clubs

Fishing clubs have been a staple of our great pastime for many years, as they provide an opportunity for hands-on learning amongst a social setting full of like-minded individuals.

Fishing Clubs remain an integral part of their local communities and the landscape of the WA fishing scene.

The traditional model of a fishing club has lost some of its appeal to up-and-coming fishers. The days of sharing fishing stories at the monthly club meeting have been replaced with the instant gratification of sharing stories on social media.

Due to the change in the way many of us share our fishing knowledge, some clubs have struggled to adapt to changes and now find themselves unable to attract fresh faces or ideas to their organisations. Being innovative and making fishing club’s attractive to the next generation is a vital part of continuing to deliver the numerous benefits that clubs provide to the members and their local community.

Pictured above is Russell Hanley from the Australian Trout Foundation and Matthew Gillett from Recfishwest.

We’re pleased to report that there is a great number of fishing clubs in WA that are as strong as ever. These clubs have continued to innovate and provide members with opportunities to socialise and go fishing in a way that aligns with current social norms and values.

As a part of our commitment to improve fishing in Western Australia, recently Recfishwest ran our inaugural Fishing Clubs Conference, aimed at building and developing fishing clubs across WA. The two-day conference provided information on current fisheries management and research approaches in WA, along with an update on Recfishwest projects.

The conference had a focus on assisting clubs to improve their services and discussions on ways to improve shore, boat and freshwater fishing.

From left to right: John Curtis from Australian Anglers Association, Craig Wells from WellStrategic and Malcolm Cruickshank from WA Anglers attended the conference over the two days.

Representatives from a number of fishing clubs from both the metropolitan and regional areas attended the conference, eager to learn new approaches and also share their experience and expertise with other fishing clubs from around the state.

Recfishwest took many learnings away from the two days and from the feedback received, the clubs took plenty away from the presentations and subsequent discussions.

This is the first time Recfishwest has held a forum like this, and we plan to hold similar events in the coming years to further understand and assist with the issues faced by fishing clubs around the state.

Thanks to the following clubs for attending the conference:

  • Australian Anglers Association
  • Australian Trout Foundation
  • Broome North Fishing Club
  • Esperance Deep Sea Angling Club
  • Exmouth Game Fishing Club
  • King Bay Game Fishing Club
  • Lancelin Angling and Aquatic Club
  • Mangles Bay Fishing Club
  • Nickol Bay Sportfishing Club
  • Perth Game Fishing Club
  • WA Trout and Freshwater Fishing Association
  • WA Anglers
  • WA Undersea Club

Recfishwest will continue to work closely with clubs to ensure they remain an integral part of their local communities and the landscape of the WA fishing scene.

Having seen first-hand some of the great work of many successful fishing clubs in WA, we are now more certain than ever that the future of fishing clubs is strong.

Pictured above is Scott Medling from Nickol Bay Sportfishing Club with Ben Knaggs & Dave Thomson from the Exmouth Game Fishing Club.

More Barra Stocked into Lake Kununurra

When barramundi were first stocked into Lake Kununurra in 2013, not many people imagined the quality of fishing that the lake would produce in such a short amount of time.

Hon. Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly, Recfishwest CEO and North Regional TAFE Portfolio Manager Jeff Cooper at the stocking event today. Photo credit: ABC Kimberley

The abundance of baitfish and lack of predators within Lake Kununurra saw barramundi reaching one metre in length within three years of age! Any barramundi over one metre is a phenomenal fish and a bucket list target for many fishers.

Lake Kununurra is evolving into a sensational destination for anglers to chase their first barra and is a bona fide big-barra waterway that continues to produce trophy sized fish.

The stocking of Lake Kununurra has forged the waterway into perhaps WA’s best barramundi fishery. Over 650,000 barramundi fingerlings have been stocked since the project was announced back in 2012.

We’re pleased to report that over 100,000 more barramundi fingerlings have been stocked into Lake Kununurra this year, including many at today’s stocking event. This year’s stocking was funded through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund, adding to the number of great projects funded using recreational fishing licence money. Read what the Fisheries Minister had to say about today’s stocking here.

Over 650,000 barramundi fingerlings have been stocked since the project was announced back in 2012

As planned, Lake Kununurra is now regarded as a world class trophy barramundi fishery (plus there are no saltwater crocs or huge Kimberley tides to deal with). If these monsters continue to grow as expected it won’t be long before the Lake could hold Australia’s biggest barra. If you want to keep up to date with the latest catches, check out Lake Kununurra Barramundi Stocking Group on Facebook.

If you ever find yourself lucky enough to explore the Kimberley, ensure you visit Kununurra and test your luck tracking down an iconic barramundi on the lake’s calm protected waters. Catching a big barra is a quintessential Kimberly experience and Lake Kununurra is now one of the best places to do it!

Visitors and locals are reporting fantastic catches coming from the lake! Photo credit: Northbound Charters
As planned, Lake Kununurra is now regarded as a world class trophy barramundi fishery. Photo credit: Lake Kununurra Barramundi Stocking Group.