It’s that time of year again! Freshwater fishers in WA are bursting with excitement to whet their whistles and chase some hard-fighting trout and delicious redfin perch.
Late winter to early spring traditionally marks the start of WA’s freshwater season, when the water is cooler and stream flows are at optimum levels. Thanks to the many safe and easily accessible locations to throw a lure or fly around, WA boasts many freshwater fishing locations to choose from.
With the west coast demersal closure running from 1 August – 22 September, fishers keen to scratch their fishing itch need to look no further than the serenity of our South-West forests, where the sound of kookaburras and flowing streams are sometimes only interrupted by the splash of a hooked fish.
The exciting future for freshwater fishing in WA
Recfishwest’s Freshwater Reference Committee works closely with DPIRD’s Aquatic Freshwater Research and Development team in ensuring WA’s trout stocking program delivers maximum benefits to the WA community.
Each year, the committee makes recommendations to DPIRD on what quantities of trout should be stocked where in South-West waterways.
In this context, Recfishwest recently spoke with DPIRD Senior Research Scientist Andrew Beer for his insight into what is in store for the stocking of rainbow and brown trout and the upcoming freshwater season – and there is plenty to look forward to.
“We are making big technological advancements within not just the Pemberton hatchery centre but also to our stocking transportation vehicles. It will soon see more fish stocked per trip, state-of-the-art temperature and oxygen regulation and improved handling of the fish between the hatchery to their new stocking locations – watch this space!” said Andrew.
If the rains fall consistently over the coming months as they did over the previous months, the improved waters levels in the dams and flows in the rivers and streams could see a rewarding freshwater season.
“If we have a consistently wet winter that rolls through right into spring, that generally sees very good freshwater catches. The previous months have been beneficial with a steady amount of rainfall and that should benefit fishers as we head towards warmer temperatures,” added Andrew.
Recfishwest will continue to make a strong case to Government for the development and expansion of the South-West freshwater fishery.
Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said, “The fishery provides significant social value to the community and generates $20 million a year for the South-West. We believe there is massive potential for expanding the trout stocking program and fishery.
“Changing up the stocking regime, putting in place a more robust research program associated with it, exploring new potential freshwater and trout fishing locations and potential stocking of Aussie natives could evolve and secure the fishery well into the future and could take pressure off some of our other fisheries.
“With the Government’s renewed commitment to the Pemberton hatchery and the fishery last year, there are potentially exciting times ahead for this popular, family-friendly fishery.”
Clear your calendar for our 2023 trout stocking events!
As champions of developing and promoting freshwater fishing in WA, Recfishwest provides the community the chance to hand-release trout into these waterways at our community stocking events.
So, we are excited to announce the two dates of our family-friendly trout stocking events for 2023.
Our seventh annual Troutfest community event will take place on 21 October at Drakesbrook Weir, with the Shire of Waroona and the DPIRD Pemberton Freshwater Research Centre teaming up with Recfishwest once again to help stock loads more rainbow and brown trout with the community.
After a huge turnout for our inaugural Pemberton Trout Festival event in 2022, the event will also be making a return to Big Brook Dam foreshore on 5 November.
Freshwater fishing tips from an angling expert
Recfishwest Senior Operations Officer and resident freshwater fishing gun, Sam Russell, divulged some of his trout and redfin tips for the months ahead.
“The South-West’s bushlands are the best place to start chasing both trout species and redfin perch.
“I fish a wide range of locations from Dwellingup all the way down to Walpole, but my favourite freshwater spot would have to be Pemberton. It hosts so many impoundments, streams and rivers among the isolated Karri forests.
“Harvey Dam, Wellington Dam or Drakesbrook Weir are also fantastic options and these large bodies of water are filled with all three species. They also offer great camping opportunities for fishing trips with family or friends.”
Top gear and fishing tips
“Target rainbow and brown trout using small, bibbed minnows – rainbow and brown trout patterns both work well due to the cannibalistic nature of the species.
“I’ll also carry a couple of darker coloured lures for overcast days and low light conditions – it might seem counter-intuitive, but black lures create a prominent silhouette in the water in these conditions. Soft plastics can also be the go.
“If I’m fishing in tight streams and rivers with a lot of structure, an unweighted, weedless rigged plastic will often keep you snag-free and get you the bite. Small 1 or 2-inch minnow style plastics with a paddle or grub tail in natural colour patterns will work.
“If you’re chasing redfin perch, I almost exclusively fish with soft plastics using a weedless jighead ranging in weight from about 1/16th – 1/8th of an ounce depending on water depth and flow. Combine this with a 2-inch grub tail or marron imitation soft plastic and you’re in business.
“Fly-fishing is an iconic freshwater angling method I love but may seem daunting to learn for most fishers. No stress though, light spin outfits used for bream or herring are just as effective. Sometimes it pays to keep things simple.”