Fishing in ‘barradise’ – the 2022 Apex Kununurra Barra Bash

East Kimberley fishing gems shone bright silver recently, with a record-breaking number of Apex Kununurra Barra Bash competitors experiencing ‘barradise’ first-hand.

Now in its 24th year, the 2022 Apex Kununurra Barra Bash, running from September 23-25, is the ultimate celebration of barra fishing in the Kimberley, all within the backdrop of postcard-esque scenery and safe, accessible fantastic fishing spots.

With just $50 entries for adults and juniors fishing for free, the potential returns of catching monster barra and taking home sensational prizes across the three-day competition saw more than 720 anglers across all ages try their luck in beautiful East Kimberley waterways, with 168 barra, 181 catfish and 70 sooty grunter landed in total.

“Seeing the attendance record get smashed clearly highlights that family-friendly fishing events such as the Apex Kununurra Barra Bash are part of the social fabric of regional communities like this,” said Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland. “Well done to all involved in running the Kimberley’s premier freshwater fishing event once again.”

“Lake Kununurra is an increasingly important part of the competition. There’s a growing number of annual fishers heading to Kununurra to fish the lake without the worry of big tidal movements or saltwater crocodiles hindering their fishing experiences. The stocking program run in partnership with the Lake Kununurra Barramundi Stocking Group (LKBSG), North Regional TAFE and DPIRD has seen more than 1.3 million barra stocked into the lake since 2013. With metre-plus barra catches now a regular occurrence – Lake Kununurra has established itself as a world-class sport fishery.”

Find out more about the fantastic barra fishing Lake Kununurra has to offer here! 

This stunning image taken by Darren Francis won the best picture competition by showcasing the beauty of fishing on Lake Kununurra.

More than $50,000 worth of cash and prizes was on offer for the Bash, including $3,000 for the biggest barra caught and any competitor who landed a barra over 55cm going into the draw for a $12,000 three-night stay at the Kimberley Coastal Camp!

For all competitors who managed to land the highly respectable ‘metrey’ barra, they went home with a new Shimano Speed Master 12 fishing reel, along with two $500 gift voucher prizes sponsored by Recfishwest for the best snap taken on Lake Kununurra and a random draw prize for any one taking a photo on the lake and posting it on the LKBSG Facebook page.

Tyran Flick is a man holding $3,000 in cash! This 1.07m barra was the biggest caught throughout the entire competition!

Attendees didn’t even have to wet a line to be in the running for the biggest ‘lucky door’ prize, with an $18,000 tinnie up for grabs, made possible by a host of sponsors including Recfishwest.

This great prizing is made possible through our East Kimberley Barra Promotion project, supported by the State Government’s Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund (RFIF).

Bailey Dawe was the lucky winner of the $18,000 dinghy and decided to give his new boat a test run on Lake Kununurra!

With the huge range of extravagant prizes on offer, fishers eagerly patrolled their favourite barra spots during the competition in search for the revered northern sportfish, which frequently cross the one-metre mark all along the 55km length of Lake Kununurra, located around 40km west of the Western Australian and Northern Territory border.

Lake Kununurra has since become a world-class hotspot for anglers chasing one-metre giants. According to a 2020 report conducted on the restocking program, the economic value of barramundi fishing to the region is already $7.6 million per year, showcasing its importance to the local community.

Next year’s competition will be the 25th edition, which is likely to be celebrated by putting an even bigger boat up for grabs for all attendees. Make sure you pay this beautiful region a visit!

Check out the Apex Kununurra Barra Bash Facebook page to see all images and winners from 2022!

Dozens of amazing prizes were given away this year, all in front of a record-breaking crowd!

Onslow fishing community gets hooked on Fishing for Science

Recfishwest recently had the pleasure to attend the 2022 Munro’s MACK10K competition in Onslow to run our Fishing for Science program – and the mackies came thick and fast for our sampling table!

The annual competition, hosted by the Ashburton Anglers Fishing Club, pulls in hundreds of passionate fishers from across the state, with impressive prizes on offer across more than a dozen challenge categories.

The 2022 Munro’s MACK10K fishing competition had generous prizes on offer! Make sure you check out the Ashburton Anglers Facebook Page for more details on this great annual event.

Working in collaboration with Paul Lewis from DPIRD, our Recfishwest staff were directly involved in gathering data from Spanish mackerel brought into the weigh-in station from 233 competitors across 69 boats.

Thanks to the contribution of the friendly local anglers, our Fishing for Science program collected data from more than 60 mackerel. This included their weight, length, condition, sex and maturity stage.

CHECK OUT OUR FISHING FOR SCIENCE PAGE HERE

Not only did our Recfishwest Operations Officer Sam Russell also take belly samples from each fish for future research, but he was also elected as “resident fish filleter” for the competition! Sam sliced and diced his way through plenty of mackerel for several hours straight each night, before handing fillets out to grateful members of the community from anglers kindly donating their impressive catches.

In addition, Paul from DPIRD  took the otoliths from the 61 sampled fish donated by the competitors to determine their age, with the finalised data to be used in conjunction with commercial catch data to provide clear assessments of the Spanish mackerel stock in the Pilbara Management Area – so a win-win for the local community, DPIRD and the future of these spectacular pelagic powerhouses.

Recfishwest’s Sam Russell and DPIRD’s Paul Lewis (pictured) received a great response for the fish sampling activities for the Fishing for Science program, taking samples from more than 60 fish.

“Thanks to the fantastic response and keen interest of the Onslow fishing community who are just as passionate as we are about fish sustainability and research, Fishing for Science is a great way for fishers to learn more about the fish they love to catch while contributing toward the collection of data that will benefit the fishery in the future,” said Recfishwest Operations Officer Sam Russell.

“We need to say a huge thanks to Paul from DPIRD for his tireless sampling efforts and the crew at Ashburton Anglers for their hospitality during this great annual competition. Having a yarn with the locals and participants shows how much they care about the fish being caught.”

Congratulations to all 15 category winners from the Munro’s MACK10K competition and watch this space for future Fishing for Science initiatives.

Dampier community fishes for fun and for science!

We had a fantastic response to our Fishing for Science fish sampling table and fishing clinic in Dampier coinciding with King Bay Game Fishing Club’s recent Dampier classic.

The great response to these activities and the dozens of boats in the competition shows just how important fishing for regional communities continues to be.

Wahoo, Spanish mackerel, queenfish, longtail tuna, barracuda and golden trevally – these were just some of the species local anglers landed throughout our five-day visit to the northern coastal fishing jewel.

Our Sunsmart Fishing Clinic saw more than 40 eager kids wet a line off the shore, with plenty of great catches of species such as bluebone and stripey snapper providing great memories and snaps for the next generation of anglers.

We had a great time showing future generations how to safely catch, handle and release fish!

Following the Sunsmart Fishing Clinics in the mornings, the icing on the cake for our Recfishwest team was the many fish given to us to sample for our Fishing for Science Program at the end of each day’s weigh-in from 67 competitors wetting a line from 21 vessels.

Fishing for Science is a community engagement program that enables local communities to better understand scientifically the fish species that underpin prized fishing experiences.

READ MORE ABOUT OUR FISHING FOR SCIENCE PROGRAM HERE

In total, more than 50 fish across 15 different species were brought to the sampling table, for measuring, sexing and having belly tissue samples taken to freeze for future scientific studies and monitoring of our fish stocks.

Other data gathered for our Fishing for Science program across the competition included the weight, condition, sex, parasites and maturity stage of each fish, providing useful knowledge for locals while allowing them to give back in protecting our fisheries.

Sam Russell and Danielle Hartshorn always had a great bunch of kids eager to see the fish gender reveals!

Operations Officer Sam Russell said both the fishing clinics and positive engagement with the competition participants provided invaluable information on the importance of these special ocean habitats to our northern communities.

“A big thanks to the Dampier fishing communities, King Bay Game Fishing Club and Sunsmart for allowing us to run these clinics and engage with hundreds of Dampier and Karratha locals again this year – and a big thanks to our Fishing for Science partners Woodside Energy for supporting this great community program”