It was fantastic to see the enthusiasm and appetite for trout fishing this weekend down at Drakesbrook Weir, Waroona, for our annual Troutfest event.
The Minister for Fisheries, Dave Kelly (pictured below about to release a nice brown trout), was a keen participant and took the opportunity to announce the launch of the WA Inland Fisheries Research Advisory Committee.
The inaugural meeting of this committee took place earlier in August and it represents a huge and exciting step forward in securing a brighter future for the WA trout and freshwater fishery in Western Australia.
Bringing together Recfishwest, WA trout fishing experts, trout stocking specialists from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and the South West Regional Development Commission, the committee’s objective is to steer the future direction of research and development of inland fisheries with a particular focus on the Pemberton Trout Hatchery.
A vision for the trout stocking program
The first meeting provided a vision for how DPIRD’s trout stocking program can be recalibrated to truly “deliver maximum community benefit” quoting the committee’s principle term of reference.
We believe there is massive potential for expanding the trout stocking program and fishery, with no reason why participation in freshwater fishing couldn’t and shouldn’t double in the next three to five years.
Changing up the stocking regime, putting in place a more robust research program associated with it and exploring new potential freshwater/trout fishing locations could evolve and secure the fishery well into the future.
There is a genuine opportunity here for us to improve and open up great angling experiences accessible to a wide range of fishers.
The flow-on benefits of this to the community would be many – tourism, the regional economy and the rec fishing industry would all benefit as fishers seek the magic experience of hunting rainbows and browns in majestic south-west waters.
To capitalise on this new opportunity, one of Recfishwest’s primary objectives will be to ensure a rigorous trout stocking evaluation research program is put in place.
We have long pushed for a program of this kind with little scientific data gathered around the effectiveness of stocking fry in waters we need stock in a way to maximise fish survival to provide the best possible trout numbers for anglers.
To address this issue, as well as impacts of reduced rainfall and streamflow in the South West, the initial focus of the committee is to consider radically overhauling the stocking regime to make the vast majority of stocked fish (currently 600,000 fish of all ages) into more robust yearlings – which will mean more angler-ready fish for your next fishing adventure.
In addition, the committee is also considering how the timing of releasing fish could be changed to maximise growth potential and survival rates of stocked trout to improve the cost-benefit to the State with greater catch returns.
Stocking Aussie natives
While the committee’s initial focus is on trout, we still have a big appetite for delivering a comprehensive Aussie native stocking program in some of WA’s freshwater locations and finding new and innovative ways for future-proofing our marron stocks.
And to be clear the new advisory committee will not be replacing Recfishwest’s expert Freshwater Fishing Reference Group, which is key to developing our policy and strategy in this space – rather it will complement it significantly.
The committee will allow us to take the reference group’s excellent work forward with a seat at the table where decisions directly affecting the future of the fishery will be made.
Trout fishing in south-west freshwater fisheries is a great way to catch beautiful fish in some truly scenic settings and isn’t that hard to do. In this article, Recfishwest staff member and self-confessed ‘trout tragic, Nick Drummond, takes a look at some of the basics you need to know to give this fun form of fishing a go, as we gear up for our annual Troutfest event on Saturday August 31st
Have you experienced the spectacular freshwater angling the South West has to offer?
If not, you’re missing out! From chasing radiant rainbow trout in serene Karri-tree lined dams, to casting lures or flys at cunning brown trout in streams, brooks and rivers where the bubbling water tumbles down the bends and stones, to trawling a wriggling lure behind your ‘yak at dawn on a still glassy lake waiting for that electric hit on your rod – trout fishing in south-west WA has something to offer anglers of all ages and experience.
We have a fantastic trout fishery in Western Australia, supported by a comprehensive trout stocking program, with which Recfishwest is closely involved in, ensuring there is a good distribution of these fabulous-looking sportfish in waters throughout the south-west region. So, if you haven’t had a crack at trout fishing in WA – why not give it a go?
What gear do I need?
If you’re a little daunted by starting out in an unfamiliar fishery, don’t be. Yes, there are a few considerations to figure out such as where exactly to go, how to fish the area, bite times, lures selection etc and some might be thinking, ‘Don’t I need one of those super special fancy fly rods to catch a trout?’ – no, you definitely don’t. And if you keep it simple when you start out by using a light spin set-up, you won’t go far wrong and this gear can easily be as effective and often more effective then fly rods. The outfit only needs to be light; something you would use for herring, skippy, bream or whiting would be perfect. Using a lighter breaking strain line helps to cast further, especially when you can cast small shallow diving minnows, soft plastics and spinners that don’t have much weight to them.
Where do I fish?
There’s a host of majestic waters to explore in the South West – which is a great part of the attraction of trout fishing – wide-open dams, babbling brooks and rolling rivers – all have their own attraction and different ways you can approach them from a fishing perspective. Dams are significantly more accessible to novice anglers, closer to Perth, and a great place to start when getting into freshwater fishing. Streams, brooks and rivers usually involve much more hiking, 4WD-driving and exploring in order to find fishable locations.
Fishing in dams
There is some damn good fishing to be had in the dams! There are many impoundments that hold good fish, with stand-outs being Waroona, Drakesbrook, Harvey, Logue Brook, Glen Mervyn and Big Brook – all great locations that are stocked annually and hold great fish. Late winter/early spring is generally the best time to be on the hunt in dams, when the water is cooler after winter rains have flown in through their tributaries. Dams can still produce fish all year round, but you just have to work harder for them and find the cooler water where the trout retreat to during the warmer months. Remember when trout fishing, it’s paramount that you fish the early mornings or late afternoon, as this is when the trout are fired up and, on the bite – particularly in impoundments. Yep, this means you will have to brave those ’fresh’ mornings when you can see your breath and feel the chill of the air on the tip of your nose, but this is when you will have the best chance – and it’s amazing how soon you warm up when hooked up to a lively south-west rainbow trout or if you’re really lucky a big brawny brown!
Fishing in streams
The majority of streams and brooks flow through some of the beautiful bush that south-west WA has to offer. They twist their way through the valleys of karri trees and provide fishers with a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with nature while chasing a trout. Stream locations are mainly around Pemberton, including the Lefroy Brook, Warren and Donnelly river. Closer to the Metro area is the Collie Gorge below the Wellington Dam and the Murray River (Lane Pool area) can also produce good fish. When stream fishing you will often do quite a bit of hiking and cover a lot of ground searching for pools and areas moving on to the next area after a few casts in each of them. Fishing these waterways using a kayak is a really fun way to catch fish and gives you access to spots that you can’t reach from the bank.
What about the stocking program?
Stocking trout helps to sustain the populations found in our waterways. Though the trout colour up ready for the breeding season, doing their best to push up the streams and brooks in late winter, their spawning is very rarely successful.
To ensure an abundance of trout are on offer for fishers, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development along with the Pemberton Trout Hatchery stocks over 650,000 trout each year! Last year, a trial stocking of 3,500 advanced yearlings into a number of locations into south-west waterways was a huge success in the eyes of many freshwater anglers. This year there are 6,500 advanced yearlings being stocked, up by 3,000 fish on last year! These advanced yearlings are larger than the usual yearlings as they’re raised with more space and food to get them to a larger size of around 30cm before release. The increased size gives the advanced yearlings significantly better chances of survival in the south-west waterways avoiding being eaten by redfin, birds and larger trout. At 30cm, when caught, they also make for great fishing snaps to show off to your family and friends and on your social media.
There are some other bits and pieces that can make your trout fishing easier and more effective, but they’re not necessary when starting out. Waders are one of these freshwater fishing tools that you don’t need, but can help you in certain situations. They’re a great way to keep warm and dry when exploring the South West, and help you to reach locations people that want to keep their feet dry cannot. Polarised glasses help in nearly all fishing situations and help you to better spot fish and structure beneath the water’s surface. Spotting fish in this way is something I’ve done in the clear waters of dams on a few occasions, though getting them to hit your lure is a different matter!
A small landing net can be incredibly handy when you’re in the final moments of the fight and trying to subdue the slippery trout! Don’t forget your freshwater angling licence, required when fishing any freshwater body, above tidal influence. There is a licence- free weekend for freshwater fishing on the 31st of September and 1st of August, the same weekend as the Recfishwest’s Troutfest event at Drakesbrook dam. This may be a good opportunity to try freshwater fishing for free and explore the beautiful surrounding in WA’s South West.
Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly today announced Western Australians can go freshwater fishing in the State’s South-West, licence-free next weekend (September 2-3, 2017).
The special weekend will celebrate the opening of the freshwater fishing season on September 1 and give people the chance to try their hand at freshwater angling for free.” Minister Kelly said.
“The State Government is committed to supporting the recreational fishing industry which is an important economic driver for WA. That is why the State Government is giving Western Australians the chance to go fishing in the South-West on September 2 and 3 without the need for a freshwater fishing licence.”
To celebrate the Minister’s announcement, Recfishwest is running ‘TroutFest’, a great opportunity for families to spend quality time together outdoors and have a go at freshwater fishing, just in time for Father’s Day!
Recfishwest is teaming up with The Western Australian Trout & Freshwater Angling Association (WATFAA), to run Perth’s biggest family freshwater event, TroutFest.
This event is set to highlight the fantastic fishing available at Drakesbrook Weir, where participants will have the opportunity to release trout grown at the hatchery in Pemberton. Trout are stocked every year by the Fisheries Division of the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and this year the public get to participate directly in improving freshwater fishing experiences.
• Saturday 2nd of September 2017
• Starts at 10.00 am to 1.30 pm
• Drakesbrook Weir, Waroona.
The day will include: • Trout Stocking
• Freshwater Fishing Tuition for all ages
• Fly Casting
• Freshwater Tackle & Rigging Information and Demonstrations
TroutFest will be a great occasion for families and friends to get along to a regularly stocked waterway to experience what freshwater fishing is all about. Participants will also have access to WATFAA members who will provide expert advice and tutelage during their fly and lure casting lessons and tackle and rigging demonstrations.
For many, this fishery is clouded in mystery, where in reality it is all about getting into the bush, having a cast and enjoying some of the best parts of WA. So why not bring the family along and be a part of something special?
TroutFest promotes sustainable, accessible, enjoyable and safe fishing for the benefit of the community and will help encourage freshwater fishing in the South West.
Due to the popularity of this event, registrations are essential so Recfishwest can provide the best possible experience for you and your family. So please register here.
For the majority of West Aussies, fishing means jumping on a boat or heading to the coast and enjoying the fabulous saltwater fishing opportunities available. There is, however, the option to escape into the wilderness of the south-west and be swallowed up by the whole freshwater fishing experience.
Freshwater fishers will tell you there is no experience like it, as it is so incredibly different to any other type of fishing. Many people see freshwater fishing as the thing to do if you do not have access to the ocean or a boat. This is far from true, and often fishers become so enveloped with freshwater fishing that they live and breathe it.
Recfishwest strives for great fishing experiences for all in the WA community forever and many of our members feel this passionately about giving back to fishing in WA as well. It is these members that make up Recfishwest’s Freshwater Fishing Reference Group (FFRG) whose combined experience and knowledge go toward providing well-informed advice on behalf of the community around the management of freshwater fishing.
Chair of the FFRG, Ian Sewell, has been a long time avid fisher and works tirelessly with Recfishwest to ensure that there will be sustainable, accessible, enjoyable and safe freshwater fishing for generations to come.
“This dedicated group allocates where the available trout, which includes, fingerlings, yearlings and ex-brood stock will be stocked for the coming season as well as providing feedback on management issues that may affect this unique fishery.’’ He said.
With a mild wet summer, WA’s Put and Take Trout Fishery is looking set for a great 2017/2018 season. Stream flows have remained good over the summer period which is when most fish face their hardest times. In celebrating our unique freshwater fishing experience, the FFRG are pleased to announce the inaugural community stocking and fishing day, scheduled for September. This event is set to highlight the fantastic fishing available at Drakesbrook weir, where participants will have the opportunity to release trout grown at the hatchery in Pemberton, as well as receiving expert advice and tutelage on freshwater fishing from some of WA’s experts.
“The community stocking and fishing day will be a great opportunity for families and friends to get along to a regularly stocked waterway to experience what freshwater fishing is all about. For many, this fishery is clouded in mystery where in reality it is all about getting into the bush, having a cast and enjoying some of the best parts of WA” Ian Sewell said.
For those interested in attending, please keep an eye on the Recfishwest website and social media channels for further information. Recfishwest wishes to acknowledge the fantastic work put in by the FFRG in ensuring the continued success of freshwater fishing in WA.
Western Australia’s rugged Jarrah and Karri forests in the South-West will once again play host to the almost 11,000 fishers expected to take part in the much-loved Marron fishery in January. It is one of the most uniquely West Australian fisheries, offering the chance to catch a feed of tasty native crustaceans in a superb freshwater setting armed with nothing more than a bag of chook pellets, a pole snare or a drop net. The 2017 season for our native freshwater crayfish runs from noon on January 8 to noon on February 5. The short season reflects the challenges in managing this fishery, which continues to face less than optimal environmental conditions.
The waterways Marron inhabit have been impacted by habitat loss, diminishing water quality and falling rainfall in recent years. Recfishwest identified this issue some years ago, and have since been undertaking a project which will help shape future management of this fishery. The Future Proofing WA’s Iconic Marron Fishery project was funded by the Federal Government through the Fisheries Research Development Corporation and is a partnership between Ecotone Consulting, Department of Fisheries, Murdoch University and Recfishwest. To date, the project has revealed some fascinating insights into the drivers and aspirations of participants. Community surveys revealed many people view marroning as a great family activity and environmentally rich experience that they were prepared to travel a long way to undertake. For many Marron fishers the opportunity to socialise with family and friends is more important than actually catching anything.
Concerns raised about the fishery included the state of the environment, length of the season, level of compliance and lack of facilities at popular locations, with the next part of the project to look at how fishing amenity can be improved through stocking and habitat enhancement of Marron. Marron fishing locations vary from extremely remote to easily accessible depending on how adventurous you are willing or able to be. The natural bush environment in which it occurs makes marroning a great, fun summer activity and the good rains over the 2016 winter should mean the marron will have more water and habitat to move around in this season. This is great news for marroners, after major bushfires played havoc with access to many marron fisheries last summer.
Scooping, snaring and drop netting are all options for Marron fishers, enabling the participants to tailor their expedition to their preferences and ability. A licence is required but Marron fishing is affordable and extremely accessible throughout the South-West, with no need for expensive gear or a boat, and it is a safe and enjoyable pastime for families with the bonus of a great feed at the end of the day.
For the advanced marroner wanting a real challenge, there are fisheries which are snare-only and these include the Harvey River (upstream of the highway) and Harvey Dam, Big Brook Dam, Glen Mervyn Dam, Waroona Dam and Logue Brook Dam.
Trophy fisheries with different bag and size limits are the Harvey Dam, Waroona Dam and Hutt River.
Fly fishing was just what the doctor ordered on a special weekend at Clover Cottage earlier this month. For the second year in succession, fly fishing experts descended on picturesque Clover Cottage, Manjimup, on the banks of the Warren River, to teach 15 ladies from Breast Cancer Care WA the art of fly casting.
The Purple Fly Weekend follows on from the success of last year’s event and previous Pink Fly Fishing Days which were regularly held in Perth. Members of the West Australian Trout and Freshwater Angling Association were among those who donated their time to offer assistance, in what was a very calm and educational environment for the ladies to learn in. The motion of fly casting has been proven to be beneficial for recovery for women who have undergone surgery or radiation treatment for breast cancer. The gentle casting motion helps to promote soft tissue stretching and improve joint mobility for women recovering from surgery and those managing lymphedema.
Breast Cancer Care WA support staff volunteered their time and were joined by breast cancer clients, with the weekend funded by a Recfishwest Community Grant. The weekend offered participants a hands-on introduction to fly fishing and an opportunity to get outdoors while learning a unique form of fishing that can aid in their recovery. Great weather greeted the group and the ladies enjoyed a dry casting session on the Friday after a bonding session on the bus on the way down from Perth.
After more casting practice, around half a dozen trout were caught by the ladies on the Saturday morning with persistence the key, as for many, this was their first time participating in any form of fishing! Wellness and mindful activities followed, with a sunset fish to round out the day, with more Rainbow Trout taking a liking to the flies as they landed on the surface of the water.
Each year in Australia over 13,500 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and one in eight women in Australia will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Breast Cancer Care WA is a Western Australian charity that provides personalised emotional, practical and financial support to people affected by breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Care WA received no government funding and their activities are entirely reliant on the generosity of the Western Australian community. It is famous for the charity event Purple Bra Day, raising funds and awareness for breast cancer clients.
Recfishwest would like to thank all of the community partners who got on board and threw their support behind the Purple Fly Fishing Program, including:
• Clover Cottage
Paul & Petrina Thomsett
• Shimano Australia
• Kin Kin Retreat and Farmstay
Leanne & Greg
• Holey Smoke Smoke House
• Potato Karri Country Gourmet Potatoes
Samantha and Carlo Pessotto
• Woodgate Wines
• Bannister Downs Dairy
• Farmhouse Pizza – Manjimup
• Innovations Catering
Bob Rawlinson and the team
Recfishwest and Breast Cancer Care WA are both not for profit organisations and are always open for new partnerships to help continue and grow the Purple Fly Fishing Program. If your brand or organisation would like to come on board and support this life changing program, please contact Tim at email@example.com
More Fish in the Water as Freshwater Season Kicks Off
The 2016 South West freshwater fishing season is looking to be one of the best on record, with healthy amounts of rain providing good stream flows to allow for an awesome fishing experience in this serene and tranquil part of the state.
Recfishwest’s Regional Policy Officer Matt Gillett said that the winter rains will provide support to record numbers of trout being released this year, bred from the highly successful Pemberton Trout Hatchery. This stock will be further supported in their growth by higher water levels and stream flows in recent months.
“In addition, it is predicted that the combination of healthy habitat and healthy brood stock (ex-breeding fish) should provide a flow on effect down the track for better quality fishing into the summer months”, Mr Gillett said.
To provide a more accessible and enjoyable fishing experience for the whole community, those under 16 years of age will no longer be required to hold a South West Freshwater Angling licence, meaning families can enjoy fishing in the South West, without having to worry about licences for the kids.
Recfishwest, through their Freshwater Fisheries Reference Group, offers advice to the Department of Fisheries on appropriate trout stocking locations. “This year key locations include the Warren River, Collie Gorge, Donnelly River, Blackwood River, Lefroy Brook and the Murray River” Mr Gillett said.
Over the past four years over 2.3 million trout fry have been released in the South West as well as approximately 100,000 Rainbow Trout yearlings and over 10,000 Rainbow and Brown trout ex brood stock, proving the value the community place on trout restocking. Fishers will also be able to target feral competitor species such as Redfin Perch without a bag limit as per usual and are urged to not return them to the water when caught but we recommend keeping Redfin as they are a prized table fish known for their tasty white flesh.
A project which will help shape future management of the Marron fishery has revealed some fascinating insights into the drivers and aspirations of participants in this fishery. The project entitled ‘Future Proofing WA’s Iconic Marron Fishery’ was funded by the Federal Government through the FRDC and is a partnership between Ecotone Consulting, Department of Fisheries, Murdoch University and Recfishwest.
This project has just completed community surveys aimed at gaining a better understanding of what motivates people to go Marron fishing, the social value of the pastime, and what people want from this fishery. The surveys revealed that many people view marroning as a great family activity and environmentally rich experience that they are prepared to travel a long way to undertake. For many Marron fishers the opportunity to socialise with family and friends is more important than actually catching Marron.
Some of the concerns raised about the fishery included the state of the environment, the length of the season, the level of compliance and lack of facilities (toilets, rubbish disposal) at popular locations. The second part of the project will look at how fishing amenity can be improved through stocking and habitat enhancement of Marron.
The third part of this project will focus on developing a blueprint for the future management of Marron and will depend on the outcome of the first two parts of the project.
After the success of the recent Pink Snapper restocking in metro waters, along with the stocking activities of Mulloway, Prawns, Black Bream, Brown and Rainbow Trout and Barramundi, Marron just might be the next species we see stocked to boost the enjoyment of all marron fishers.