Inaugural Pemberton Trout festival makes big stocking splash with locals

With stunning weather and a spectacular forest backdrop, the inaugural edition of the Pemberton Trout Festival proved to be a great hit with the sizeable crowd that turned out for this new fish stocking event. 

Around 400 people made the picturesque journey to Big Brook Dam, just outside of Pemberton, to line up and hand-release hundreds of rainbow and brown trout into the crystal-clear waters of this fantastic South-West freshwater fishery.  

To top it off, every trout making a splash was at least yearling size, with dozens of parents and kids able to experience the thrill of holding the larger ex-broodstock specimens, some over 50cm in length, before gently caressing them into the water and watching them kick away to freedom.  

With a greater number of the larger fish being released, it means a higher survival rate and a better workout for anglers and their rods when these bigger trout grab lures, flies and baits.  

The stocking event proudly celebrated 50 years of Fisheries Department (DPIRD) management of the Pemberton Hatchery, which underpins WA’s ever popular South-West trout fishery.  

Along with Recfishwest, this new event was initiated and supported by local fishing clubs including the Australian Trout Foundation (ATF), Southern Forests Freshwater Angling Club (SFFAC) and Western Australian Trout and Freshwater Angling Association (WATFAA).  

The festival would also not have been possible without the tremendous support from DPIRD, the Pemberton Freshwater Research Centre, Daiwa, Healthway, Pemberton Visitor Centre, Shire of Manjimup and the Australian Trout Foundation Inc.  

There were plenty of larger ex-broodstock trout up for grabs for attendees to help hand-release at the festival! Here’s Recfishwest Communications Coordinator Jarrad Lawford helping a young tacker release a beautiful brown.

“It was a great sight to see dozens of families and kids getting hands on in releasing these fantastic fish. There couldn’t have been a more fitting way to celebrate the history of the hatchery and the fishery here in Pemberton – the ‘spiritual home’ of WA freshwater fishing,” said Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland.  

“The Pemberton-based trout hatchery run by DPIRD supports a fantastic program that brings thousands of anglers to chase these fish through South-West freshwater dams, rivers and streams. These anglers in turn inject more than $20 million annually into the regional economy and we believe there is huge potential to grow the fishery even further along with the social and economic benefits it brings to the region.”  

Every year, trout are released into various popular freshwater fishing dams and rivers such as Drakesbrook Weir, Harvey Dam, Waroona Dam, the Collie River and the Brunswick. 

With such a big turn-out for the successful event, it is hoped more fish stocking events like this can be run in the area in the future – watch this space! 

Recfishwest will continue to work closely with Government in creating more places for people to fish for freshwater species in safe, accessible and family-oriented fishing locations.  

Recfishwest’s Freshwater Fisheries Reference Group will continue to provide advice to DPIRD on where to distribute each year’s trout stocks bred at the hatchery.  

A big Recfishwest thanks to all our supporters who made this event possible, along with all attendees young and old who took part and helped release the fish quickly and in good condition.  

A unique experience in a picturesque place, hopefully the Pemberton Trout Festival will become an annual event!

Another 300,000 barra released into Lake Kununurra!

This week another 150,000 barramundi fingerlings – which are about 60 days old – were successfully released into Lake Kununurra, with another 150,000 barra set to be released next week.

These two releases will raise the total number of barramundi released into Lake Kununurra over the past eight years to 1.3 million fish.

Lake Kununurra is an East Kimberley fishing gem and a quality sport fishery, providing fishers the chance to chase big barramundi.

WATCH: See how the experts fish for barra on Lake Kununurra

A safe location free of saltwater crocodiles and big tidal movements typical of Kimberley river systems, Lake Kununurra is home to many 1m-plus barra thanks to an ongoing stocking program.

The Lake Kununurra stocking program was initiated in 2013 using recreational fishing licence fees as part of the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund.

It is overseen by the Lake Kununurra Barramundi Stocking Group (LKBSG), Recfishwest, North Regional TAFE and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPRID).

“Lake Kununurra’s barramundi stocking program shows how true fish abundance not only promotes great fishing experiences, but also benefits regional WA communities,” Recfishwest CEO Dr  Andrew Rowland said.

“Fish abundance ensures great fishing experiences can be enjoyed and stocking programs like this one can help create world-class fisheries in regional towns, such as Kununurra.

“Lake Kununurra is not only an asset to locals, but also attracts visitors to the East Kimberley who want to try their luck and chase a magic metre barra in a safe and accessible setting.”

How good! More than 1.3 million barra have been released into the lake since 2013.

All of the fish released as part of the program have been bred at North Regional TAFE’s aquaculture facility in Broome.

The TAFE’s aquaculture experts transport the fish across from Broome to Kununurra in special oxygenated transportation tanks.

The State Government has committed to fund the stocking program over the next three years through the COVID-19 recfishing recovery package, announced in 2020.

See how the barra are hatched and reared at North Regional TAFE before being released into this short YouTube video.

Thanks also to Fisheries WA for their support of the program and Daiwa Australia our Statewide stocking partners who make fish release activities like this possible.

It was all hands on deck to help get the latest batch of barra into Lake Kununurra.