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!