For the past two summers, the popular fish aggregating devices (FADs) have created exciting new sportfishing opportunities across the State – especially for fishers in the State’s south.
The yellow buoys, with chain anchored to the seafloor in depths of up to 300m, have produced dolphinfish, wahoo and various tuna species off Perth, Rockingham, Cape Naturaliste and Albany.
Entering the final year of the three-year trial, Recfishwest is exploring options and potential funding models to keep providing the network of FADs across WA once the trial concludes in May next year.
“Following the end of the three-year trial, it is critically important that we have plenty of evidence demonstrating the FADs’ fishing success,” Recfishwest Operations Officer Mike Minutillo said.
“The more photos and videos, the better – it will help us immensely in securing funding into the future so we can continue to build upon and expand the success story that is the FADs program.
“So, if you’re a FADs enthusiast, please send us photos and videos showing the quality of your fishing experiences on the FADs.”
Luke’s a FAD-natic
With summer fast-approaching, another scintillating season of sportfishing in the southern half of WA isn’t too far away… and safe to say sportfishers are excited.
“I am super keen to fish the metro FADs again – the past few seasons have seen some outstanding fish being caught,” avid fisher and Tackle West co-owner Luke Ryan told Recfishwest.
“The program offers another great fishery for species that we would not normally be able to target effectively without the FADs being there – hopefully I get a few dolphinfish over 1.2m this summer.
“It’s such a great experience at the FADs – it’s relatively easy fishing, the dollies are very aerial and they taste great.”
Kurt Wilson, another FADs fisher, added:
“This year, I’m most excited to see some of the other species around the FADs,” he said.
“I’m also looking forward to changing up our fishing techniques and hopefully targeting tuna, wahoo and even potentially a marlin at the metro devices.”
FADs fish n’ tips – courtesy of Madfish Gear and Richter Lures
As the FADs program has evolved, more fishers have headed to the devices to chase pelagic species.
“Recfishwest is stoked to see great brands like Richter Lures and Madfish Gear get behind FADs fishing,” Recfishwest Partnerships and Development Manager Tim Grose said.
“It’s with support from partners like this, that we can continue to grow this exciting developing branch of WA sportfishing.”
Creating new opportunities
Starting in late 2019, the three-year State-wide FADs trial program – funded by licence fees through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund (RFIF) – is now into its final 12 months.
The trial is backed by the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund (RFIF) and has led to the deployment of FADs at seven locations, extending from Albany to Broome.
The program also complements the Perth Game Fishing Club’s (PGFC) long-standing FADs program, with the RFIF-funded trial ensuring six more devices are deployed off Perth each summer.
Six of the program’s FADs were successfully deployed off Perth on Monday this week – the same day that PGFC’s FADs were deployed.
Mangles Bay Fishing Club’s FADs off Rockingham were put in the drink today.
The FADs off Geraldton, Cape Naturaliste and Albany are scheduled to be deployed – weather permitting – before the month’s end.
What can we expect to be caught?
The 2020-21 FADs season was nothing short of spectacular in the State’s south, with countless big dolphinfish in addition to wahoo.
The bumper season in the southern portion of WA was likely influenced by the stronger than normal Leeuwin Current due to the La Niña event, Recfishwest Operations Officer Mike Minutillo, who oversees the FADs program, explained.
“While it is still too early to accurately conclude, the Bureau of Meteorology’s forecast indicates another La Niña event is possible in 2022,” he said.
“If this were to occur, the southern network of FADs from Perth to Albany would likely experience another sensational summer of pelagic action.”
In the first two years of the State-wide FADs trial program, fishers have caught bigger ‘bull (male) dolphinfish’ earlier in the season – particularly at the six devices deployed off Perth through the program and the PGFC’s six devices.
Serious southern sportfishing
The FADs have helped shine the spotlight on the amazing sport and pelagic fishing opportunities and experiences the WA coastline has to offer.
“Another major benefit of the FADs network is that the devices offer fishers an alternative to targeting slow-growing demersal species, such a dhufish or pink snapper.”
There is a strong demand for the sportfishing opportunities the FADs provide, Mike added.
“The State-wide FADs trial is very popular and we, as I’m sure the fishing community does too, want to see it continue to provide fantastic fishing opportunities for years to come,” he said.