There’s plenty of reasons to be excited for the future of freshwater fishing in WA’s beautiful South-West following the release of this year’s trout stocking numbers and locations.
Not only can you fish the dams, rivers and streams with postcard backdrops for big trout, but larger specimens in greater numbers are set to flourish through these areas and end up on the hooks of more keen freshwater anglers thanks to smarter and safer stocking.
Trout are stocked each year in WA and vary in size, from smaller fry (5cm), to mid-sized ýearlings, right up to ex-broodstock fish (>40cm). These hatchery-reared trout are released and targeted by the growing number of Western Australian freshwater anglers – currently around 10,000.
Leading the charge behind the stocking efforts is the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and Pemberton Freshwater Research Centre (PFRC). DPIRD maintains its close working relationship with Recfishwest. This year will also see the 50-year milestone of the hatchery being run and operated by the WA State Government.
Based on the recommendations of DPIRD and values from Recfishwest’s Freshwater Fisheries Reference Group, this year’s rainbow and brown trout stocking ahead of the freshwater fishing season will see 153,500 rainbow fry, 31,500 rainbow yearlings and 2,700 ex-broodstock rainbows released in our South-West, while 12,000 brown yearlings and 650 ex-broodstock browns will also make a splash.
It brings the grand total to 200,350 rainbow and brown trout being released through various brooks, dams and rivers with tens of thousands more mid-sized yearlings stocked than previous years.
Releasing the smaller fry into our waterways means having to survive threats from redfin perch, water rats, droughts and more over the course of around 800 days before they reach ex-broodstock size.
While many fry do reach legal size, stocking more of the larger yearlings and broodstock trout through these waterways instead means an increased chance these fish will recruit to the fishery and be encountered by anglers.
DPIRD Freshwater R&D Senior Research Scientist Andrew Beer, says the improvements in stocking design and a focus on “right fish, right place, right time” for fish releases means improved outcomes and the odds of anglers landing bigger trout.
DPIRD will also boost capacity to transport large numbers of bigger trout through the South-West waterways next year, via a custom-made fish transport tanker truck capable of carrying five thousand litres of water.
The truck will be used to transport yearlings and ex-broodstock trout with lower risks of handling damage to the fish and off-road features that can allow easier access in and out of rough and boggy areas.
Key benefits to this include reducing the number of days the hatchery staff are on the road. This efficiency offers two positive outcomes – less risk of traevl and more days they can contribute to hatchery operations.
A $20 million catch
“We’re pleased to see the Government’s commitment to the future of this fantastic fishery and this dedication to advancements in stocking, which will ultimately result in better quality fishing for anglers,” said Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland.
“The flow on effects from anglers visiting South-West freshwater dams, streams and rivers helps inject more than $20 million annually into the regional economy thanks to keen anglers spinning lures, bait fishing and fly fishing for trout.
“We believe there is massive potential for expanding the trout stocking program and fishery and commend DPIRD’s Aquatic Freshwater Research and Development team for championing this cause from within the Department.”