South West anglers are upbeat that fishing on Bunbury artificial reef keeps on improving – a view borne out by the results of a Recfishwest scientific monitoring program analysing the reef’s effectiveness across the past 12 months.
Data collected through 55 drops of baited remote underwater video (BRUVs) cameras by Reef Vision volunteers showed the number of fish species on the structures increased to 58 species since the reef’s fishable area was expanded by 50 per cent, with 90 low relief concrete modules added to the original 30, 10 tonne ‘fish boxes’ 12 months ago.
Fish species observed on the reef via the vision included Samson fish, yellowtail kingfish, pink snapper, dhufish, mulloway, skipjack trevally, flathead, squid and cuttlefish – many of which are target species that are proving very popular with local fishers.
“The fishing on the artificial reef just keeps getting better and better,” Grant at Whitey’s Tackle and Camping in Australind says.
“The reef is a great place to start for any boat fishers having a crack in the area – there’s sambos and skippy on them all the time and the pinkies begin to move in on them after the first big blows in autumn around April/May time with them on there all through winter.”
Boat ramp surveys of boat fishers carried out by the Recfishwest team at Point Casuarina and the Bunbury Powerboat Club showed that 92 per cent of those surveyed believe artificial reefs make fishing better, 96 per cent believed they improve fish habitat, while 90 per cent agreed artificial reefs were a good use of licence fees.
So, the big question then is how do you best fish the reef?
If you do, Grant at Whitey’s has got you covered.
“Like most fishing it comes down to what you’re targeting – but you’re not going to go far wrong fishing a five to six-inch (12cm to 15cm) paddle tail soft plastic – especially when the water gets a bit dirtier,” he said.
“I’d either set a pick 20m to 30m off the reef and float a bait or a soft plastic down the burley trail – or set a drift through the modules – you don’t want to fish right on top of them or you’ll just lose your gear.
“If you want to give them a go, we’re here and more than happy to give you some pointers.”
For more local knowledge about how to fish the artificial reef off Bunbury, Whitey’s details can be found on their website.
With shallow water artificial reefs now in Esperance, Geogrpahe Bay, Mandurah, Exmouth and soon to be Ocean Reef, there’s plenty of easy-to-access great fishing opportunities for families in small boats to catch quality fish over the winter months.