Tagged Barra Caught Seven Years After Original Release in Roebuck Bay

A recent capture of a tagged barra in Dampier Creek near Broome has shown stocking programs can and do pay long-term fishing dividends.

Barramundi being released back in 2012

Steve Chambers from Tackle World Broome recently reported one of his customers had caught a 76cm-long tagged barramundi in Dampier Creek.

The barra was later identified as a stocked fish from a batch of 1,000 barra released in Dampier Creek, Roebuck Bay in 2012 – as part of a stocking program funded by one of our Community Grants – click here for more info about community grants.

At the time of its release on 16 August 2012,  the fish – ‘barra no.1873’ – measured 39.5cm.

It’s great to see this fish, reared by the Broome Aquaculture Centre of Kimberley TAFE, being caught and showing that the released fish are still out there and continuing to provide fishing experiences.

The fish, before their release, were screened for their high health status and were expected to have a great survival rate.

While the fish appears to have been relatively slow-growing, the recapture reflects how much of a long-term investment stocked fish like these are providing benefits to the fishing community a number of years later.

Barramundi being released back in 2012

More Barra Stocked into Lake Kununurra

When barramundi were first stocked into Lake Kununurra in 2013, not many people imagined the quality of fishing that the lake would produce in such a short amount of time.

Hon. Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly, Recfishwest CEO and North Regional TAFE Portfolio Manager Jeff Cooper at the stocking event today. Photo credit: ABC Kimberley

The abundance of baitfish and lack of predators within Lake Kununurra saw barramundi reaching one metre in length within three years of age! Any barramundi over one metre is a phenomenal fish and a bucket list target for many fishers.

Lake Kununurra is evolving into a sensational destination for anglers to chase their first barra and is a bona fide big-barra waterway that continues to produce trophy sized fish.

The stocking of Lake Kununurra has forged the waterway into perhaps WA’s best barramundi fishery. Over 650,000 barramundi fingerlings have been stocked since the project was announced back in 2012.

We’re pleased to report that over 100,000 more barramundi fingerlings have been stocked into Lake Kununurra this year, including many at today’s stocking event. This year’s stocking was funded through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund, adding to the number of great projects funded using recreational fishing licence money. Read what the Fisheries Minister had to say about today’s stocking here.

Over 650,000 barramundi fingerlings have been stocked since the project was announced back in 2012

As planned, Lake Kununurra is now regarded as a world class trophy barramundi fishery (plus there are no saltwater crocs or huge Kimberley tides to deal with). If these monsters continue to grow as expected it won’t be long before the Lake could hold Australia’s biggest barra. If you want to keep up to date with the latest catches, check out Lake Kununurra Barramundi Stocking Group on Facebook.

If you ever find yourself lucky enough to explore the Kimberley, ensure you visit Kununurra and test your luck tracking down an iconic barramundi on the lake’s calm protected waters. Catching a big barra is a quintessential Kimberly experience and Lake Kununurra is now one of the best places to do it!

Visitors and locals are reporting fantastic catches coming from the lake! Photo credit: Northbound Charters
As planned, Lake Kununurra is now regarded as a world class trophy barramundi fishery. Photo credit: Lake Kununurra Barramundi Stocking Group.

WA Wilderness Fishing Location Producing Monsters

Here’s what we sent our members last week in our Members First Email.


Every now and then, things go exactly according to plan!

Stocking Barramundi into Lake Kununurra has been one of those times and we wanted to give you an update.

Many fishers in the Kimberley community had long held visions of catching world class Barramundi on the doorstep of town. Since the construction of the first stage of the Ord River Irrigation Scheme in 1963, Barramundi had been prevented from migrating further upstream than the Ord River Diversion Dam. An opportunity was born from this challenge – one that would bring monster fish back to local waters.

In 2013, a fish stocking project saw over 300,000 Barramundi fingerlings (7cm-10cm long) released into Lake Kununurra. Since then a further 200,000 Barramundi have been stocked, with thousands more still to come.

The result can only be described as spectacular! Fish funded from your licence money have showed growth rates never seen before in the East Kimberley, with most fish now being caught over the fabled ‘metre mark.’

We reported back in April 2015 of stocked fish being caught at 45cm-60cm.

We are pleased to report that the quality of fishing has continued with local fisher Brad Pasfield’s recent monster Barra (as pictured below). Brad’s father Dick Pasfield has worked tirelessly for many years to ensure the vision of trophy Barramundi in Lake Kununurra was realised, and we are pleased to see this vision paying dividends for both the local community and visiting fishers.

As planned, Lake Kununurra is now regarded as a world class trophy Barramundi fishery (plus there’s no saltwater crocs or huge Kimberley

tides to deal with). If these monsters continue to grow as expected it won’t be long before the Lake could hold Australia’s biggest Barra. If you want to keep up to date with the latest catches, check out Lake Kununurra Barramundi Stocking Group on Facebook.

I had the opportunity to fish up on Lake Kununurra last year with my old mate Dick Pasfield who wanted me to come up and see what he has to live with every day. Here’s the result:

If a trophy Barra is on your bucket list, make sure you visit Lake Kununurra!

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Solution for Derby Barramundi Resource Sharing

Solution for Derby Barramundi Resource Sharing

  • Fishing sectors work together to achieve positive solution
  • High abundances are critical to high value fishing experiences
  • More Barra left in the water for local and visiting fishers

We welcome the recent announcement from Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly, providing improved recreational fishing opportunities off the Derby coast, after the Minister approved the removal of commercial barra netting for King Sound South.

Recfishwest, the local community, WAFIC (Western Australian Fishing Industry Council) and the local commercial Barramundi licence holder have worked together to present this package to Government which resolves conflict between the recreational and commercial fishing sectors.

The issue was not one of sustainability, but rather how the sustainable catch close to town was shared.

High abundances of Barramundi close to the town of Derby are critical for ensuring high value fishing experiences for this iconic Kimberley species.

In an effort to find an outcome which best meets the needs and aspirations of both recreational and commercial interests, Recfishwest and WAFIC conducted a formal mediation process involving community representatives and the commercial fisher in February of this year.

In May, as an outcome of this mediation, Recfishwest and WAFIC finalised a joint proposal to the Minister for Fisheries that proposed a set of agreed principles which included spatial separation between commercial and recreational fishing sectors as a suitable solution.

An important part of this proposal was that the agreed set of principles would be used for determining compensation for any loss incurred by the commercial licence holder, based on historic catch efforts.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland praised all parties involved in negotiating this outcome.

“Today we are pleased to announce that this matter has been resolved in a manner that satisfied all parties, with the use of compensatory funding from the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund,” Dr Rowland said.

“This is the first time that recreational fishing licence money has been used to resolve such a conflict in a specific area and we’re pleased it has been used in this manner that returns benefit to the recreational fishing community.”

This decision sets a precedent for the representational arms of WAFIC and Recfishwest to work with government towards agreed solutions to resource sharing issues.

To read what the Fisheries Minister said, click here.

ENDS

Resource Sharing Concerns for Iconic Kimberley Barramundi

For many years recreational and commercial fishing have co-existed in harmony as commercial fishing operated in areas away from town that recreational fishers rarely visited. Recently though, nets are being set in popular fishing spots only minutes from the boat ramp. This has significantly impacted the quality of fishing experiences for local and visiting fishers.

The Derby-based Mary Island Fishing Club has been attempting to negotiate directly with the commercial fishing operator and believe they have a proposal which provides families with fair and reasonable access to Barramundi while still allowing commercial fishing within 30 minutes of town.

Club spokesperson Sara Hennessy said recent negotiations had broken down.
“Unfortunately we have not been able to make any progress and our fishing has continued to decline,” Sara said.
“The Derby community have always supported the supply of fresh local seafood, but high quality recreational fishing experiences around Derby are an integral part of our lifestyle that we want back.
“We believe we have a solution which will meet the needs of recreational and commercial fishers as well as the greater Derby community.”

 

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said recreational fishing is the lifeblood of many small communities in WA.
“Experiences which see families in the outdoors enjoying the unique and wonderful environment must be protected.”

Recfishwest and the Mary Island Fishing Club are continuing to negotiate with WAFIC and the commercial operator to find a solution that will restore fishing experiences around Derby while still supporting the supply of fresh local seafood.  We will keep you informed of our efforts to restore the balance and regain the equitable combination of recreational and commercial Barramundi fishing the Derby community have enjoyed for decades.

Recfishwest exists to protect, promote and develop sustainable, accessible, enjoyable and safe fishing for the benefit of the community

Barra Bonanza in Lake Kununurra

Future Mecca for Barramundi Fishing

For a lot of Australians catching a big Barramundi is high on their bucket list. The iconic sportfish is a favourite target for lure fishing, and a highly regarded table fish. Striking hard and providing strong runs once hooked, Barramundi put up a challenging and spirited fight as they manoeuvre around snags and launch into impressive aerial leaps attempting to shake the hook. The experience sells itself.

Most people think that to access the best Barramundi fishing you need to travel to remote creek systems in Australia’s north or impoundments along the East coast. Many regard places such as Kakadu and Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory or Tinaroo Dam in Queensland as the best option for thrill seekers chasing a Barramundi fix. You will be pleased to learn that Australia’s next big barra fishery is much closer to home, with locals and tourists already tangling with fish over the ‘holy grail’ meter in length.

“To put it into perspective, fish which were released as 5cm fingerlings three years ago are now over a metre in length!”

Lake Kununurra in the states North East is producing Barramundi fishing like nothing experienced before. Local champions have worked passionately to enable the stocking of Barramundi to be a success and over 500,000 Barramundi fingerlings stocked into the lake since 2012 are now providing some of the most exciting fishing around.

The Barramundi in Lake Kununurra cannot naturally reproduce in a closed freshwater system. The fish spend their entire lives eating and growing and with no natural predators, some enormous barramundi have been able to gorge themselves to significant size on the abundance of natural bait in the system.

The stocking program which finished last year has shown us enough of what potential Lake Kununurra holds as a Barramundi hotspot. To put it into perspective, fish which were released as fingerlings three years ago are now over a metre in length!

Key stocking facilitator, Kununurra local and Barramundi enthusiast Dick Pasfield says “The barra fishing in Lake Kununurra is world class and should only get better”. A local group has formed in the absence of continued stocking to investigate potential avenues.
“ Now that the stocking program has been completed and the building blocks of an amazing fishery have been laid the local stocking group will continue working to develop it into one of Australia’s premier impoundment fisheries” Pasfield stated.

Barramundi fishing is huge for Kununurra locals and the economic and social return from the stocking program will far exceed the actual cost of the program. It is a fitting tribute to the hard work and vision of the local community over the last 20 years that Lake Kununurra is now on the world sportfishing stage.

Former president of the Broome Fishing Club and Portfolio Manager at the North Regional Tafe aquaculture facilities Jeff Cooper says “what we have here is the start of something very exciting, the untold potential of impoundment Barramundi fishing in Lake Kununurra is something we should not take for granted. This opportunity is unmatched and the possibilities are endless”.

Recfishwest will continue to follow Lake Kununurra Barramundi developments and are in full support of realising the untapped potential of Lake Kununurra Barramundi fishing as well as assisting in the continued growth and tourism benefit to North West communities.

 

Resource Sharing Concerns for Iconic Kimberley Barramundi

For residents of Derby, fishing for Barramundi is an institution.  The iconic Fitzroy River empties into King Sound right on the town’s doorstep, creating the perfect estuarine environment in which to target Barramundi only minutes from the boat ramp. This type of fishing experience has provided local fishers with safe, accessible, sustainable and enjoyable fishing experiences for decades.

Traditionally, local fishers have maintained an excellent relationship with local commercial fishing operators who have chosen to fish further from town in order to maintain equity between commercial and recreational fishers. These types of agreements are pivotal to the harmony of small communities who rely on accessing shared resources, which is why it is disappointing to learn that gillnet fishing for Barramundi has recently started on the doorstep of Derby following the sale of the local commercial licence.

This has created a large amount of conflict in Derby, with local recreational fishers noticing a decline in fishing quality over recent months. Derby-based Mary Island Fishing Club have been attempting to negotiate a resource sharing outcome which would restore the agreement between the community and the previous licence holder. To date, these negotiations have been unsuccessful.

Recfishwest is assisting the club and their community in their endeavour to restore equitable resource sharing for Barramundi in King Sound.

Recfishwest exists to protect, promote and develop sustainable, accessible, enjoyable and safe fishing for the benefit of the community.

World Class Fishery for Kununurra

The prospect of a world-class impoundment fishery in the Kimberley is looming large, as reports of exciting Barramundi action on Lake Kununurra gather momentum.
What started out as a very challenging project for all involved, and especially the staff and students at Broome’s Kimberley Training Institute, appears to have been extremely successful in anecdotal reports are anything to go by.

There have been reports of numerous fish from 55-90cm being caught in recent months and even the odd trophy metre-plus fish. When the program was launched, it was hoped Lake Kununurra could eventually provide an impoundment barra fishery to match those on the east coast and that day appears closer than ever.

Photo courtesy of ABC Kimberley

The initial project, which has been strongly supported by Recfishwest and been funded by the Department of Fisheries as part of the Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy, has now been completed and more than 550,000 fish have been restocked into the 55km-long dam. Notably, the project has been completed under-budget and ahead of schedule. The next step will be assessing the success of the project before considering further funding to continue the good work.

Locals in Kununurra say their boat ramp has never been as busy as in recent months, and Jeff Cooper from the KTI said it was encouraging that electrofishing earlier this year produced fish at every location tried along the entire length of the lake.  Two of the fish caught this way were over a metre in length, and he said the fish being caught were in prime condition, likely feeding mostly on bony herring and redclaw.

Jeff said the project had provided fantastic training for his students, who were involved in all aspects of the restocking.  He added that the project had benefitted from the collaboration between several government agencies.  The broodstock used to produce the fish for the Lake Kununurra stocking was caught from the Ord River.

With great community support and world-class science, not only are the rec fishers of the Kimberley benefiting, but Kununurra’s tourism industry just got an exciting boost.

More Barra for Kununurra

Recreational fishers who catch Barramundi in Lake Kununurra are being asked to report catches to Recfishwest and the Kimberley Training Institute (KTI).
Another 130,000 Barramundi, around 4-5cm in size, were released into the lake last month, bringing the total of fish released through the current restocking program to over 530,000 in the last four years. These latest fish were marked with dye so they can be identified.

The restocking program for Lake Kununurra is supported by Recfishwest and has been achieved with fish bred at the KTI in Broome.
Another 20,000 bigger fish will be released shortly, to complete the initial restocking program.
The latest batch were released near Crossing Falls, an area which boasts extensive wetland weed systems, good access to deep water and access to get the trailer and fish close to the water.
There have been reports of fish to 80cm being caught in the lake, and we want to know about any catches, to help gauge the success of the program.

It is hoped the restocking will pave the way for a world-class impoundment fishery for Barramundi in Kununurra.
Importantly, the KTI has exceeded initial targets for the restocking, and been able to do it ahead of schedule, with support from the Department of Parks and Wildlife and Department of Transport.

The program is funded by the Kimberley Science Conservation Strategy, through the Department of Fisheries and is supported by Recfishwest. We look forward to continued restocking activities in the East Kimberley.

More Barra Released

AROUND 100,000 Barramundi fingerlings around 70-100mm in length were released into Lake Kununurra late last month, March 2013.

The latest stocking by the Kimberley Training Institute in Broome is part of the ongoing program to create a world-class impoundment fishery in Kununurra. There have now been close to 400,000 barramundi stocked into Lake Kununurra since the program started early in 2013.

The good news that there are reports of small barra of around the size that would be expected after the stockings being caught. Fish from 45-60cm in size have been caught in the Lake, which is in line in what was hoped for at this stage.

As have proven by barra stockings over east, success can be a lengthy process, with the stocking of Lake Tinnaroo taking more than five years to reap full dividends.  More stockings in Lake Kununurra are planned for later this year and rec fishers are already starting to see the benefits of having a developing world class sports fishery on their doorstep!