No need to pray for a cray, just drop your pot in the right spot

No need to pray for a cray, just drop your pot in the right spot!

Not many things excite fishers like the annual rock lobster ‘whites run’. It’s a time when metro cray fishing fires up to an outstanding level and dropping pots truly comes into its own! Pulling in a heavy pot loaded with a feed of crays is the ultimate goal for many cray fishers and the whites run is your best opportunity to experience this. The annual whites run is the main reason 80% of all recreationally crays are caught using pots.

The whites run often occurs around late November and early December each year. As the crays begin their annual migration to offshore waters, they provide unmatched fishing opportunities for potters. The proximity to shore means people can head out early bag themselves some crays and be back in time for work. The summer months are where more than half of the total recreational crays are caught! In this article, we will provide you with a forecast ahead of the season from the puerulus settlement index the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) collects, provide answers to commonly asked questions and point you in the right direction to catching some of these super-tasty crustaceans in time for Christmas.

What is the 2019/20 season forecast looking like and what is the puerulus settlement index?

It appears a great season is ahead of us, the puerulus settlement for the 2015 and 2016 season is well above average. Now what’s this puerulus settlement have to do with the cray season four years on? Well, DPIRD developed a method to collect the puerulus which is a juvenile stage of a cray by using a specialised buoy that mimics natural algae habitat on which the juvenile crayfish like to settle. DPIRD scientists work out the concentration for each new moon period of these settled puerulus and can then work out trends and patterns in recruitment. This settlement information has a strong correlation with catches of crays in three to four years, once the crays have matured to a legal size. You can read more about the puerulus settlement index here.

Why are they called ‘whites’ and where are they ‘running’ to?

Check out the distance’s crayfish can cover. These crays were tagged at the yellow marks and recaptured at the red dots some 450 – 550km’s away!

Good questions! A ‘white’ cray is a colloquial term applied to crays that are freshly moulted with their new soft, pale shell showing. This is in comparison to pre-moulted crays which have a hard, dark red shell. Juvenile crays settle along seagrass beds and rocky habitat close to shore. Once they reach sexual maturity at about three to four years, they migrate en masse from this inshore habitat to the deeper offshore reef platforms in a north-westerly direction. DPIRD research shows that crays can walk up to 5km a day with crays tagged at Rottnest showing up recaptured later at the Abrolhos! That would definitely have the researchers double-checking the tag numbers! Check out the fascinating migration maps provided by DPIRD Offshore Crustacean Principal Research Scientist Simon de Lestang showing huge distances the tagged cray cover.

Averaging 5km a day these offshore crays sure do move around!

OK, so it’s forecast to be a great season but the six million dollar question: when will the run actually happen?

Whilst there are multiple factors that influence exactly when the migration begins, it is generally understood that the migration will start towards the end of November and will reach full swing by the beginning of December. The run is believed to be triggered by warming water temperatures and good catches usually continue until about Christmas time. Cooler water temps tend to delay the start of the migration. Though this year, unlike the last, the warm water seems to have come early and crays were moulting as early as the first week of November.

How do I go about catching them?

The whites run is when potters do best. Divers tend to be more consistent than those dropping pots across the year, but the period from late November to Christmas is when dropping pots come into its own. As crays are on the move from under their usual nearshore reef ledges, they will seek food and shelter along their migration path. A well-set cray pot provides both of these needs. Keep dropping pots further out to sea as the migration continues, and check your pots every day during this period. Crays can travel many kilometres a day so don’t be afraid to spread your pots out to get an idea of where good numbers of crays are each day. Even though potters do best during the whites run there are also still plenty of divers in the water at this time so common sense needs to be used, keep a lookout for dive flags and don’t throw your old bait in the water if divers are nearby.  There are plenty of crays for everyone to enjoy during the whites run.

After crayfish hatch, they live offshore as planktonic Phyllosoma later growing to the Puerulus stage that settles in inshore waters.

What is a well-set pot?

Cray pots that are well-weighted are much harder to pull up but sit steadily on the seafloor while the swell and surge rolls back and forth. Heavy pots are also much more likely to stay put during a storm so they don’t end up tangled in the reef where they can become stuck and even detached from their ropes when the ropes rub against the reef overnight and fray. Crays are much more likely to enter if the pot is still, any movement will mean no crays in the morning. Pots should be set on the sand on the western side of natural habitats such as reef or weed, this way, as they migrate to the north-west, they will walk off the reef, onto the sand and find your pot sitting there ready for them. Make sure the baits are fresh, so don’t let your bait get rotten in the basket, change it every few days at the very least. Use something oily to get the best results, blue mackerel and orange roughy heads or the new burley bricks that are a great plastic-free alternative that are packed in cardboard ready to go in your bait basket. You can check them out here: https://recfishwest.org.au/media-release/innovative-steps-to-plastic-free-fishing/.

A few more tips include clipping the tail of your crays as soon as possible, marking your floats clearly with your gear ID and it’s also worth marking your pots too. You should also soak your pots before you deploy them as they’re known to bubble for at least 24 hours as the dry wood soaks up the saltwater, something that crays hate and you are unlikely to catch while they’re bubbling. Catch these and even more tips here: https://ilovefishing.com.au/2017/10/12/top-tips-potting-crayfish/

Thanks to Simon de Lestang from DPIRD for presenting this great information at the cray fishing night that was held at the Cockburn Powerboats Club. There was a great turn-out from club members and non-members, with a huge amount of information shared over the course of the night. Keep an eye out for club nights like these, they’re a great opportunity to meet like-minded fishers and advance your fishing knowledge. We expect this whites run, and the next, to be excellent and wish all fishers the best of luck chasing a feed of delicious WA crays for Christmas.

DPIRD guide to rock lobster fishing: http://www.fish.wa.gov.au/documents/recreational_fishing/licences/rec_licence_rock_lobster.pdf

The huge turnout at the Cockburn Powerboats Club’s cray fishing night

 

 

 

 

 

Get geared up and ready for the whites’ run

It’s coming up to that time of year, when many fishers will be dusting off their cray pots and loops in readiness for the annual ‘whites run’, a time when hauls of tasty crays (WA rock lobster) are pulled freshly from the inshore reefs, not far from the local boat ramp.

There’s a real sense of anticipation as fishers launch their boats, park the trailers and get ready to head out to their pots or gear up for a dive.

Catching crayfish is a big part of our WA lifestyle with thousands of families sharing the experiences of catching and enjoying this fantastic seafood each year.

It’s not just potters that do well on the crays, divers get in on the action too.

The quality of recreational fishing for this highly popular crustacean has gone from strength to strength since changes were made to the management of the fishery in 2013. Now there are more than 52,000 licensed cray fishers who contribute millions of dollars each year to the WA economy through spending money on licences, boats, bait, gear, fuel and ice.

Cray fishers’ activity goes up another level at this time of year with the hotly anticipated whites run whetting the appetite for soaking pots and dive-suits.

“The much-anticipated whites run allow fishers to get out there and catch their own seafood for the Christmas table. It’s not uncommon to see boats lined up at the boat ramp,” said Leyland Campbell, Recfishwest Operations Manager.

”Seagrass seeds popping, Christmas trees flowering – according to fishers, these are signs the whites run is not too far away,” he said.

The whites run, a potter’s dream!

The annual whites run also coincides with boat-ramp-chaos, as thousands of recfishers hit the boat ramps each day during the run, presenting the best chance to bag themselves a feed of crays.

Crays can be caught on inshore reefs, no need to head out deep!

During November and December, crayfish embark on a migration that fishers can target to land a good feed. The specific time of the migration varies each year, although generally it’s around late November to early December. The migration is usually triggered by environmental factors like tides and the moon-phase kicking off the crayfishes’ movements.

Crays shed their shell to grow into a larger one that’s often initially pale, and walk out to deeper waters, hence their description as white crays. During these times, the best option is usually to position your cray pots on the back side of the reefs on the sand. The position is crucially important, if you place your pot on the reef it’s prone to becoming stuck in the cracks and crevices or the crayfish will simply choose the more natural caves in which to hide. But if you drop your pot on the sand west of the reef, it’s likely to attract any crayfish walking out to deeper water. Remember to bait them as often as possible and weigh your pot down so it doesn’t rock or shift in the surge, as crayfish are unlikely to enter pots that are moving around.

Given the high abundance of crays on inshore reefs resulting from a well-managed fishery, the prospect for cray fishing in the run-up to Christmas is very good.

Going ‘loop-y’ for a feed of crays

Using a loop to catch your crays can create a whole lot of fishing fun!

Dropping pots may not be everyone’s cup of tea, so for those that prefer or enjoy life under the water, there’s always the option of diving for your crays. Sometimes the best places are in less than 5m of water! Yep, during the whites run, many of the inshore reefs, particularly the shallow ones, become loaded with crays! All you’ll need to get started is a licence, cray loop, some snorkelling gear, gloves, a wettie and a mate!

It doesn’t matter if it’s only shallow, or how experienced you may be, you should always have someone there to watch your back.

Learning to loop can be difficult at first, but practice makes perfect. Give it a shot laying on the ground at home and looping a water bottle and you’ll pick it up in no time – just let your housemates/partner/family know in advance what you’re doing – or they may question your mental well-being! A tip is not to mess around slowly positioning the loop behind the crayfish, get it in there quickly and calmly. Avoid opening the loop too much as they might just shoot straight through it and try to remain calm when you spot one.

Remember that not every cray you see is worth pursuing and sometimes its best to ignore the crays that are in a difficult-to-reach location and find one that is more out in the open. It’s known that jumbo crays can be found in six metres of water, so don’t feel like you have to dive deep to catch them. Often you’ll find them in ledges that border sand, ledges that are protected from surge, or in the same places you find baitfish and small reef fish relaxing in the calm water.

Want to find out more about cray fishing techniques?

Click here to find out about a fishing information evening being hosted at the Cockburn Power Boats Association club in Coogee on Friday 1 November.

Evolving rules with an evolving fishery

Over the past few years, cray fishing rules have evolved to ensure rules are simplified, practical and people’s fishing experiences are maximised.

A cray which has recently moulted.

In May 2018, the recreational crayfishing season was opened year-round allowing fishers the chance to chase a feed of crays through winter, something that was much to the delight of Mid-West fishers who enjoy cray fishing during what is considered to be some of the best weather during the year.

The latest change in rules came into effect in November 2018, which dictates the rigging of recreational cray pots to be similar to commercial pots, to mitigate the potential risk of interaction with migrating whales when the ropes are over 20m in length. The top half of the rope must hang vertically in the water column when the rope is over the length of 20m.  This can be achieved by using sinking rope on the top half of the pot rope, or by simply attaching a weight such as a fishing sinker half way down the rope.  Additionally, a maximum of two floats can be attached to a recreational pot meaning greater participation and enjoyment for everyone.

Make sure you’ve rigged your pots right by watching our video below.

Stay up to date on all the rules here.

Get out there and into ‘em!

Good luck to all cray fishers headed out in search of a tasty feed, may your pots be full and ledges packed! There’s no better time to get out and chase down a feed of crays with the loop or drop a pot. Start slow and give it a go, like all types of fishing you will pick it up the more you do it and there’s nothing better than bringing home a feed of crays that you caught yourself for a beautiful family Christmas lunch.

We’ll keep you posted as the cray season unfolds and when the whites make their run. Keep in touch via our weekly fishing reports, monthly newsletter, social media or website.

Charter Boat Crayfishing Changes to Promote WA Cray Tourism

In good news for recreational fishers, especially those who don’t have the means to catch a feed of crays, such as  non-boat owners, young children, families, the elderly or people with disabilities, there is now a new option to jump on a charter boat and experience catching a west Aussie icon that thousands of other recfishers get to experience.

Recfishwest believe the Charter sector can play a significant role in increasing the accessibility of crayfish to the WA public who want to catch their own. Being larger vessels, charter boats will fish in different areas than those fishing for crays in smaller trailer boats around inshore reefs.

Marine Tourism WA said: “The new changes will make it easier for national and international tourists to access boat-based Rock Lobster tours and more importantly provide a great benefit to the local wider community who wish to experience catching Western Australia’s Rock Lobster on a safe and managed platform through the fishing charter sector”.

Read Marine Tourism WA’s media release on these changes here.

 

You can also read the Fisheries Minister Hon Dave Kelly’s media release here.

Reference Groups Worth Their Weight in Crays

At the very core of Recfishwest’s business is talking to our community and providing well considered advice to decision makers on a range of issues that affect recreational fishing. We believe good public policy comes from engaging a wide range of people, and we do this in a number of ways depending on the issue. Sometimes it’s through face to face engagement, other times through online polls and surveys or visiting regional communities during their major fishing events.

In the case of cray fishing, in which participation rates are currently about 55,000, we have a dedicated reference group composed of passionate and devoted fishers who are interested in contributing to the management of cray fishing in WA.

The Rock Lobster Reference Group met recently to discuss matters including:

  • Reviewing the recreational catch and allocation
  • Opportunities for charter fishing to increase local availability of crayfish
  • Possession of cray tails outside of the permanent place of residence
  • The need to tail clip tropical crayfish
  • Recreational catch estimate methodology
  • Rock lobster harvest strategy review

The group’s advice on these matters is considered by the Recfishwest Board and used to guide our organisations views.

You can read more about the Rock Lobster Reference Group members here.

Positions on all of Recfishwest’s Reference Groups are voluntary, and these members should be recognised and congratulated for giving their time to make your fishing experience better.

”I would like to take this opportunity to provide my personal thanks and understanding that much of what makes my own cray fishing experience so great was borne out of this group,” says Recfishwest CEO, Dr Andrew Rowland.

”In particular I would like to thank the groups outgoing Chairman, Recfishwest life member Norm Halse whose expertise in crayfishing and natural resource management has been vital to the success of this group.”

Top banner image: Rock Lobster Reference Group members left to right; Brian Snook, Ross George, Norm Halse (Chair), Brody Laroux, John Baas, Rob Hoefhamer and Recfishwest Operations Manager Leyland Campbell.

Crayfish Industry Growth Plan Must Protect Inshore Reefs

  • WA has the best recreational crayfish fishery in the world and Recfishwest will fight to protect it.
  • Concerns over impact on recreational lobster catch and participation
  • Nearshore crayfish abundance is critical to supporting quality fishing
  • Recfishwest will never support any proposals that adversely impact on our fishing experiences

Recfishwest believes that all WA fish stocks must be managed to provide optimal benefits to the WA community.

In December, the Minister for Fisheries announced a plan to grow the rock lobster industry by increasing the quota available to the commercial sector by 1700 tonnes.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said Recfishwest has significant concerns about the plan which is currently open for consultation.

“Recfishwest will never support anything that adversely impacts on recreational fishing experiences.” Dr Rowland said

He said high numbers of crayfish close to shore in the last few years thanks to conservative management has significantly increased the catchability for recreational fishers, which has led to record high participation rates.

“In recent years fishing experiences for recreational fishers had been boosted and participation has grown to almost 60,000 licence holders thanks to high abundances of crayfish on inshore reefs,” Dr Rowland said.

“We are keen to understand how these inshore reef areas will be protected under any proposal to grow the Western Rock Lobster Industry”

“The last thing we want to see is increased exploitation of these reefs by ramping up commercial catch by 1700t. That’s over three times the annual recreational catch!”

“There is much more to fisheries management than simply the sustainable exploitation of a resource for economic gain, it’s also about managing the stock to ensure high abundance in the right areas.”

“We are seeking more details on the Plan to ensure any management changes do not impact on potters and divers who enjoy catching crayfish along our coast”

“We look forward to further engagement with the Government that results in a plan that recognises the benefits of all stakeholders in this fishery” Dr Rowland said.

Read our submission below.

Recfishwest Submission on the McGowan Governments Rock Lobster Industry Growth Plan

To read the Governments Rock Lobster Industry Growth Plan, click here.

Listen to Dr Andrew Rowland’s discussion on the issue on 6PR radio below.

Jane Marwick from Geraldton’s 6PR radio breaks it down even further during a discussion with Recfishwest’s Dr Andrew Rowland and Shane Van Styn, Mayor of Geraldton

 

Moves Afoot to Change the Way WA Crayfish are Managed

Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly recently made an announcement about changes to the way crayfish stocks are to be managed in WA.

Below is a media statement released by Recfishwest on the 11th of December, as well as updated information published on the 19th of December. Please be sure to read information from across the timeline to ensure you are kept up to date on the issue.

Update: 19th December 2018:

Whilst the Ministers announcement relates to the commercial quota available for harvest, Recfishwest will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that recreational fishing experiences are not impacted by a reduction in nearshore abundances of crays.

Updates from the Western Rock Lobster Council can be found here.

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RECFISHWEST MEDIA STATEMENT – December 10 2018.

Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly made an announcement on Saturday about changes to the way crayfish stocks are to be managed in WA.

In a statement, the Minister said the Government and the industry’s peak body, Western Rock Lobster (Council), have agreed on the broad terms of a development package that will “grow the industry to provide more benefits to the Western Australian community”.

The Minister said the Government is looking to change current management to provide the state with the best return from the community owned Western Rock Lobster resource.  In doing so, the Government is considering a plan to increase the annual catch of crayfish by 1,700 tonnes over the next five years to improve revenue to the State Government and increase local lobster supplies.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said high numbers of crayfish close to shore in the last few years have significantly increased the catchability for recreational fishers which has lead to record high participation rates.

“In recent years fishing experiences for recreational fishers had been boosted and participation has grown to almost 60,000 licence holders thanks to high abundances of crayfish on inshore reefs,” Dr Rowland said.

While details of any future management changes are yet to be decided, Dr Rowland believes that any new arrangements must ensure people have the best chance to catch crays whenever they go fishing.

“Increasing commercial exploitation of inshore stocks at popular fishing areas must be avoided to protect the current high-quality fishing the community is experiencing.”

“Recfishwest believes this inshore portion of the stock must be carefully managed and protected so WA locals who enjoy fishing with the friends and family can continue to enjoy good catches.”

“There is much more to fisheries management than simply the sustainable exploitation of a resource for economic gain, it’s also about managing the stock to ensure high abundance in the right areas.”

“Good management needs to protect rec fishing opportunities so the WA public can continue to enjoy catching their own fresh seafood,” he said.

Despite the recreational fishing sector not being included in any discussions to date regarding future plans, the Minister has assured Recfishwest that a process will be put in place so the views of the recreational fishers can be considered.

“While the current situation creates more questions than answers, Recfishwest will now be involved in discussions going forward, and will continue to provide the rec fishing community with updates.” Dr Rowland said.

ENDS

Media Contact: Matt Gillett, 9246 3366 or matt@recfishwest.org.au

Fact File:

  • Close to 60,000 recreational rock lobster licence are issued in WA each year
  • Every year the government receives approximately $2 million from recreational Rock Lobster licence fees
  • The recreational fishing sector is allocated 5% of the state’s Rock Lobster resource.
  • The Minister has confirmed there will be no changes to recreational fishing rules as part of this most recent announcement.
  • More information on this issue can be found on the links below:
    • To read the Ministers 8 December media statement click Here
    • To read the Western Rock Lobster Councils media statement click Here
    • To read WAFIC’s media statement click Here

 

 

Unlocking Rock Lobster Value

The Minister for Fisheries recently announced that new plans are in the pipeline for the management of the state’s Western Rock Lobster Fishery aimed at returning more benefits to the WA community.  Many recreational  fishers have asked what this will mean for their fishing experience.

While the details are yet to be determined, the Minister has stated the plans will explore growing the value of rock lobster and improving the future economic contribution of this resource.

While the Ministers media release stated “These discussions will not impact upon arrangements for recreational lobster fishing” Recfishwest need to be a part of these discussions to ensure any plans to unlock additional value from this fishery do not adversely impact on recreational fishing experiences.

Value from a fishery comes in many forms, but the well understood values include economic, social and cultural values.

For the recreational sector, cray fishing in WA has never been better. Cray stocks are growing and more recreational fishers are participating than ever before with over 55,000 Western Australians holding a license to catch crays last year.  It is huge part of our WA lifestyle with thousands of families sharing the experiences of catching and enjoying this amazing seafood each year.

Regardless of how well the fishery is currently being managed things can always be done better and Recfishwest welcomes the Ministers announcement  to return more benefits to the WA community from our crayfish.

Recfishwest look forward to being a part of the Ministers discussions.  We will be working to ensure:

  • The current high-quality fishing experiences remain
  • The value to WA from recreational cray fishing is well understood
  • Social and cultural value is considered alongside economic value
  • The views of the 55,000 community members who enjoy this public resource are factored into any future decisions

Recfishwest and the recreational fishing community in WA care deeply about our precious rock lobster stocks.

Stay tuned, we will keep you up to date with any news in this space.

You can read the Ministers media release here:  https://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/McGowan/2018/11/Plans-to-grow-WA-lobster-industry-to-create-jobs-and-boost-local-lobster-supply.aspx

 

 

Things are about to get CRAY-ZY! *Video explaining new rules*

Cray pots are being dusted off from the shed, ropes are being prepared, the freezers  are stocked with bait and safety equipment is being updated, as the warmer weather brings with it what’s known as the annual ‘whites run’.

Cray fishers are well prepared this year, with knowledge in their back pocket of the season to come with healthy stocks of crayfish announced earlier in the year resulting in the opening of a 12 month season and updated rules that are simplified and practical, ensuring people’s fishing experiences are maximised.

What is the white’s run?

Late November is when it all kicks off with crays making their annual migration to offshore waters, providing excellent fishing in nearshore waters. Once it cranks up, the fishing will be superb, with many boats traditionally reporting catching their boat limit most days during this migration period and good catches usually continue until about Christmas time.

You can see the difference between the red cray (early and late season) flanked by two whites, which run from about November to January (same species, different stages of migration).

Why are they called ‘white’ crays?

A ‘white’ cray is a colloquial term applied to crays that are freshly moulted and have a soft, pale shell. This is in comparison to pre-moulted crays which have a hard, red shell. The crays are exactly the same but are at different stages of their life cycle.

How do I go about catching them?

The white’s run is when potters do best. Diving catches tend to be more consistent than potting catches across the summer, but the period from late November to Christmas is when dropping pots come into its own.

As crays are on the move from under their usual nearshore reef ledges, they will seek food and shelter along their migration path. A cray pot provides both of these needs. Pots should be set on the sand on the western side of natural habitats such as reef or weed. Keep dropping pots further out to sea as the migration continues, and check your pots every day during this period.

Crays can travel many kilometres a day so don’t be afraid to spread your pots out to get an idea of where good numbers of crays are each day. Crays love fresh bait, so don’t let your bait get rotten in the basket, change it every few days at the very least.

Perhaps the most important aspect to remember when dropping pots is to make them heavy. Any movement on the bottom will result in no crays the next morning, so make sure you use plenty of weight.

Diving is the other main way of catching crayfish. Most divers search under rock ledges to find the crays and then either use a cray snare or a gloved hand to grab their quarry.

If you’re diving for crays, check out our separate article here.

Read our top tips for potting for crayfish which includes what bait to use and other handy tips to help you catch more crays this year.

Top Tips for Potting for Crayfish

How do I rig my pots to ensure they comply with the new rules?

Recreational lobster pots will now have to be rigged in a similar fashion to commercial pots to mitigate the potential risk of interaction with migrating whales.

Any pot using more than 20m of rope will be required to hold the top half of the rope vertically in the water column.  This can be achieved by using sinking rope on the top half of the pot rope, or by simply attaching a weight such as a fishing sinker half way down the rope.  Additionally, a maximum of two floats will apply on recreational pots.

 

Check out our video here:

Or view the diagram as part of the Recreational Rock Lobster Fishing Rules Brochure.

 

Recfishwest and Western Rock Lobster team up to keep lobster fishers safe

A new safety initiative to keep thousands of Western Australian lobster fishers safe will be rolled out along the West Coast in the coming weeks.

In recent years, deck hands have been injured after being struck by fishing gear snagged on lobster pot lines as pots are hauled to the surface on a high-speed winch.

To combat the dangers of snagged fishing gear, Recfishwest and Western Rock Lobster have launched the Snag It Tag It safety initiative and are distributing caution tags to recreational fishers.

Recfishwest Chief Executive Officer Dr Andrew Rowland said the Snag It Tag It project is an important safety initiative.

“Rec fishers share the water with many other users and it’s important we all work together to ensure everyone returns home safe after a day’s fishing,” Dr Rowland said.

The Snag It Tag It initiative arms recreational fishers with waterproof caution tags to tie to ropes and floats if they accidently snag fishing gear on a lobster line or pot. This will mean deckhands on commercial fishing vessels face less risk of injury when pulling in pots at high speed.

Autumn is a popular season for recreational fishers to head out and fish for iconic WA species such as Dhufish, Baldchin Groper and Pink Snapper.

Recfishwest, the Australian Anglers Association (WA Division) and Western Rock Lobster have printed 4000 Snag It Tag It caution tags which have been distributed to local tackle outlets along Western Australia’s coastline.

Western Rock Lobster Chief Executive Officer Matt Taylor said the partnership with Recfishwest to deliver the caution tags to WA fishers was important to the lobster industry.

“This is a great opportunity for recreational and commercial fishers to work together to keep each other safe,” Mr Taylor said.

“We will be raising awareness and educating commercial fishers to be on the lookout for the caution tags, so they can operate winches with extra care and at a safe speed.”

“Our busy waters can be dangerous; these tags will be an important safeguard for commercial and recreational fishers alike.”

Western Rock Lobster and Recfishwest believe everyone should return home safe after a days fishing.

Snag and Tag

Incredible injuries can occur from fishing hooks and sinkers! To combat the dangers of snagged fishing gear Recfishwest and Western Rock Lobster have launched the Snag it Tag it initiative

Posted by Today Tonight on Tuesday, 15 May 2018

 

 

2017 Cray Crystal Ball

Imagine a world in which you could predict the future. You might place a bet on the winner of a future AFL premiership, or know exactly which day to go fishing next month. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Image: Puerulus Collector Credit: Matt Watson, Image source: scoopdigital.com.au

Unfortunately, we can’t predict AFL premiers using any science, but for one of WA’s most loved fishing targets, the Western Rock Lobster (or ‘crays’), decades of data has shown that science can predict abundances of crays up to four years in advance! And if that’s not exciting enough, the 2017/18 is predicted to be one of the best years in over a decade!

During Spring and Summer, each year cray larvae known as ‘puerulus’ are pushed inshore by wind and currents where they settle on nearshore reefs.

Research shows that these crays take four years to reach the legal length of 76mm. Fisheries researchers assess the abundance of puerulus across the new moon period each month by monitoring purpose built puerulus collectors at four locations along the West Coast and Abrolhos Islands.

A cray puerulus collector (pictured right), what looks like bottlebrushes or a mop is actually artificial seagrass. Late larval phase crays use the collectors for habitat and provide long-term population/breeding stock information for fishers and fisheries managers.

High settlement has always shown a strong correlation with catches of crays three and four years later and the 2013 settlement numbers (Figure 1 below) were some of the highest in recent times; in fact the highest since the early 2000’s.

 

Figure 1 Western Rock Lobster Puerulus Settlement (Juvenile Lobster Count) – Showing the 2017/18 season should be cracker due to a high Juvenile Count back in 2013 Source: Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development

What Does This All Mean for My Fishing?

Added to this excellent rate of juvenile settlement, is the fact that numbers of adult crays are also at an extremely high level, due mainly to neither the commercial or recreational fishing sectors catching their annual allocation in recent times – meaning more crays are being left in the water each year!

Reports from divers indicate that crays are already stacked up in fantastic numbers in nearshore reef platforms along the coast. These high abundances will make for excellent fishing experiences over this Summer.

If you are thinking of trying for crays for the first time, there has never been a better opportunity. There’s plenty of information available on our other website www.ilovefishing.com.au 

Image source: Bluewater Freedivers of WA

Divers should do well as soon as the season opens, but the potters will have to be patient as the traditional ‘whites’ run won’t kick off until late November. Once it cranks up though, the fishing will be superb, with many boats traditionally reporting catching their boat limit most days during this migration period.

Recent clarification of diving rules will make for a much more enjoyable fishing experience.  To see what’s changed, click here.

Good luck chasing crays this season, we would love to hear how you go and see a few pics and videos, so feel free to email us on recfish@recfishwest.org.au or jump on our Facebook page and join the discussion.

Stay tuned for our November Broad Cast edition where we’ll take a closer look at the ‘Whites Run’ plus give you some handy tips and tricks on the best way to cook your crays plus much more!