Pemberton Trout Festival – breaking trout stocking attendance records in just its second year

Thanks to a buzzing crowd of around 500 mums, dads and excited kids along with stunning weather, the second edition of Pemberton Trout Festival went down as our biggest family-friendly trout stocking event to date!  

Taking place at Big Brook Dam foreshore and picnic area on Sunday, 5 November, with the unique backdrop of giant Karri trees, hundreds of smaller rainbow and brown trout fry, mid-sized yearlings and larger broodstocks more than 50cm in length were gently released into the crystal-clear water to celebrate our South-West freshwater fishery.  

Thanks to the dedicated team at DPIRD’s Pemberton Hatchery Centre – which can be seen in the video below – the healthy batch of trout were bred and reared by their team of experts then transported using their new and improved trout stocking trailer and vehicle from just up the road before making a splash into the wild.  

With more than $300,000 spent on improving DPIRD’s latest stocking vehicles, trailer and tanks, they are now capable of better regulating and monitoring the tanks’ water oxygen levels and temperatures, allowing the fish to be transported in a healthier state to each freshwater stocking location throughout the South-West.  

Included in the day’s festivities were free fishing clinics and fly-fishing tutorials led by fishing experts from the Western Australian Trout and Freshwater Angling Association (WATFAA), with scores of kids and even adults dabbling in learning the fine craft of fly casting.  

How’s this for a Pemberton Trout Festival turnout! A big Recfishwest thanks to the hundreds of mums, dads and kids who got hands on for the trout release.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said, “It was clear from the big smiles how much the freshwater fishery means to our South-West communities. Fishing for trout and redfin while enjoying the benefits of getting out into nature in our beautiful South-West is a priceless experience that is readily accessible to anglers of all abilities.  

“That’s why Recfishwest will continue to work hard to create more places for people to fish for freshwater species in safe, accessible and family-oriented fishing locations. We firmly believe our freshwater fishery can and should be expanded to deliver even more pleasure and benefits to the WA community.”  

Recfishwest CEO DR Andrew Rowland and DPIRD’s Andrew Beer pictured with more than one hundred rainbow trout fry, which are now swimming freely in Big Brook Dam.

Returning bigger and better for its second year, the Pemberton Trout Festival was a collaboration between DPIRD’s Pemberton Trout Hatchery, Daiwa, Healthway, the Pemberton Visitor Centre and Shire of Manjimup. 

A big Recfishwest thanks to the Australian Trout Foundation, Southern Forests Freshwater Angling Club and Western Australian Trout and Freshwater Angling Association for their support, along with the hundreds of families who came down and rolled up their sleeves.  

Click here to see the numbers and locations of where all trout were stocked in our South-West throughout 2023!

Check out pictures below to see if you were snapped while the trout made a splash!  

Big thanks to Petula Holland from SFFAC and Mike Beanland for supplying the fantastic drone shots in the video above.


South West anglers gutted at fish deaths

UPDATE: 21/02/19

Readers may recall the deaths of brown trout in Big Brook Dam during January, believed to be a result of rapidly lowering water levels in the dam to undertake excavation and repair work on the embankment and pipes by the Water Corporation. Neither Recfishwest, or our Freshwater Fishing Reference Group, were advised of this repair work.

Photo credit: Kelvin Ty

Thanks to the quick thinking of some keen anglers a number of these prized fish were able to be saved, however, many fish needlessly perished.

At the time of this event, Recfishwest reported that we would work with relevant agencies to ensure the risk of fish kills were reduced in the future.

We are pleased to report that Recfishwest recently met with Water Corporation staff to determine how best we can work together to prevent future fish kills during remedial works on our dams.

These fish are a valuable asset that has been paid for by recreational fishers (through licence fees) and when work on our dams is likely to threaten our assets it is only reasonable we are consulted about it.

Photo credit: Kelvin Tyj

Better consultation and early knowledge of planned work on our dams allows us to take action to significantly reduce the risk of fish deaths.

Water Corporation have committed to working in partnership with Recfishwest to ensure early communication of works on our dams, as well as strategies to reduce impacts on fish and fish habitat.

Recfishwest is pleased at the timeliness of this commitment and look forward to working together to ensure that quality fishing experiences remain throughout our Southwest.

Water Corporation have now committed to an increased level of monitoring of Big Brook Dam whilst the water level remains low and will implement actions such as water aeration should this be necessary to maintain water quality.

Recfishwest will continue to monitor the situation and keep our community updated.




Water Corporation statement:

Fishers’ happy with plans to prevent further fish deaths

Water Corporation is installing water aeration pumps to improve oxygen concentrations at Big Brook Dam in Pemberton while it completes essential safety maintenance.

A range of mitigation strategies were discussed at a recent meeting with Recfishwest to look at options that would help reduce the impact on fish stocks at the dam when water levels are temporarily lowered.

Water Corporation South West Regional Manager, John Janssen said about 30 fish located in feeder creeks had sadly died recently when water levels were lowered to allow maintenance to go ahead.

“We are working closely with Recfishwest to help manage any further unforeseen impacts on recreational fishing activity at the dam,” Mr Janssen said.

“We will continue to closely monitor the introduced fish stocks in the Big Brook Dam while this maintenance work is carried out.

“The work we are doing at the dam is to ensure the dam will remain a safe and fantastic place to fish and recreate for many years to come.”

Matthew Gillett, Fishing Development Officer at Recfishwest said it was important to understand that trout would naturally swim upstream and struggle in the warmer weather.

“It is a rare event for more than one hundred more mature Brown Trout to be introduced at Big Brook Dam and fishers were looking forward to catching these. So we will work with Water Corporation to make sure the dam maintenance work can be completed, along with allowing fishing enthusiasts to still enjoy a good catch.” Mr Gillett said.

For more information about the Big Brook Dam Maintenance Work project please visit:


Read the previous updates below.

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