Fish ladder repair helps to take trout fishing to the next level at Nanga Brook

The WA branch of the Australian Trout Foundation (ATF) has repaired an important fish ladder to help trout travel upstream at Nanga Brook – a much-loved South West freshwater fishery.

Last month, the ATF, with the support of staff at Lane Poole Reserve, repaired the ladder which had fallen into disrepair – meaning trout and other fish species were struggling to swim upstream.

The works, funded by the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund (RFIF), will benefit the many freshwater fishing licence holders who love fishing for trout at Nanga Brook, near Dwellingup.

“It was fantastic to see the ATF crew band together and get this fish ladder back in working order,” Recfishwest Operations Manager Leyland Campbell said.

“This is another example of how licence fees through the RFIF help to make fishing even better.”

It was ‘all systems go’ as the WA branch of the ATF repaired Nanga Brook’s fish ladder.

Nanga Brook – gold for rainbows

Nanga Brook is a tributary of the Murray River entering the river at Lane Poole Reserve and is very popular among the State’s almost 10,000 freshwater fishing licence holders.

The brook is stocked with rainbow trout each year as part of Recfishwest and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s (DPIRD) carefully managed trout stocking program.

However, there is a natural barrier on the brook’s upstream movement where the brook flows over a granite outcrop, creating a waterfall that is too high for fish to pass easily.

To address this, the Western Australian Trout and Freshwater Angling Association (WATFAA) originally constructed a fish ladder several decades ago to allow passage of fish up past the falls.

Many anglers fish the area when water flows increase during the winter months, which is typically when larger trout move into the brook, as winter flows allow bigger fish to travel up the ladder.

The ladder is constructed of rocks cemented together to form a low wall that diverts some water away from the flow going over the falls.

It redirects this water sideways and down the rock slope to a series of small-stepped pools also constructed from rocks. These pools act as refuges for fish making their way up the ladder.

While the ladder was in disrepair, it made larger fish’s access into the brook more difficult and there were fears very few fish would make it at all if there were no flood events.

📸 Unite and repair 

For the ATF crew and Recfishwest, it was imperative the ladder be repaired to assure Nanga’s trout access was not impeded ahead of this freshwater fishing season.

Repairs were scheduled for when the brook’s waterflow was typically low. The ATF team assembled and repaired 2m of the ladder’s wall, which was lost when a large tree fell onto it, and another 1m gap which had deteriorated slowly over the years.

Rocks were placed within the gaps and secured with fast-set mortar, while parts of the existing wall were strengthened by the application of mortar.

At the upper end of the ladder, the ATF members placed more rocks to extend the wall further into the flow over the falls.

The support of the senior ranger at Lane Poole Reserve was greatly appreciated by ATF.

Nanga Brook is a popular freshwater spot to target rainbow trout. Picture: Simon Holland

Fanatic freshwater fishers

“Nanga Brook is a freshwater fishery in close proximity to Perth and we want to help preserve and protect that,” Leyland said.

“The repaired ladder will play a critical role in trout access and hopefully lead to more of the State’s freshwater fishers catching big trout at Nanga Brook.

“Once again, well done ATF for getting the job done – hopefully it results in plenty of big trout catches.”

Dr Russell Hanley, WA branch President of the ATF, added:

“Nanga Brook is one of our few small streams that still flows all year, and the repairs of the brook will once again enhance this important fishery.

“Our timing has been exceptionally good as we managed to complete the works during a low flow period and avoid the onset of the recent rain.”

Hopefully more rainbow trout, like this one, are caught at Nanga Brook as a result of the repaired ladder!