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.
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.”
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.
A lively crowd and lovely weather made for a fabulous seventh edition of Troutfest and a fitting celebration of the enjoyment our South-West freshwater fishery brings to thousands of West Aussies.
More than 350 rainbow and brown trout from smaller fry up to larger ex-broodstock sizes were hand-released into their new home resulting in hundreds of smiling faces of mums, dads and kids who all got in on the action.
With DPIRD agreeing to our request to declare the weekend freshwater ‘licence-free’ for fishers, dozens of eager families tried their hand at flicking lures or fly-fishing – and a big shout out to the Western Australian Trout and Freshwater Fishing Association (WATFFA) who collectively spent hours teaching event participants the noble art of fly-fishing.
Also on display was DPIRD’s impressive new-and-improved trout stocking vehicles. Using new, advanced tank monitoring technology, these vehicles can better control water temperature and oxygen levels to ensure the fish are in healthier condition at the point of their release.
It was great to see so many families getting hands on in supporting the South-West trout stocking program by rolling up their sleeves during the popular event, made possible by the Shire of Waroona, Alcoa, our stocking partners Daiwa and DPIRD’s freshwater hatchery in Pemberton.
Budding fishers were also able to tap into the knowledge of experienced freshwater fishers, with free fly-casting tuitions and fly-tying demonstrations on offer, along with an array of stalls packed with freshwater fishing merchandise.
“Troutfest epitomises the value of fish stocking and our South-West freshwater fishery – it’s a fun, safe and accessible fishery underpinned by the great work DPIRD does rearing such healthy fish at their Pemberton hatchery,” said Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland.
“Another encouraging sight was seeing people of all ages and backgrounds having a crack at freshwater fishing during Troutfest. The licence-free weekend was a good incentive for many to try their hand at chasing trout or redfin perch, enjoying a great family experience and further contributing to the growing $37 million in economic spending each year in regional economies from freshwater fishers.”
Waroona Troutfest is part of a carefully managed South-West trout-stocking program supporting a fishery enjoyed by 10,000 freshwater fishing licence holders who venture to picturesque streams, rivers and dams throughout the South-West.
Recfishwest, through its Freshwater Fisheries Reference Group, offers advice to DPIRD on where to stock each year’s cohort of hatchery-bred trout to the best benefit of freshwater anglers.
“A big Recfishwest thanks to everyone who helped out and all of our supporters and volunteers who made this such a fantastic day, along with DPIRD for supplying this healthy batch of trout” said Andrew. “We look forward to doing it again in two weeks down in Pemberton for round two of our family-friendly trout stocking events,” added Andrew.
Make sure you’re down at Big Brook Dam Foreshore & Picnic Area by 10am on Sunday, 5 November to help us release more trout and celebrate the return of Pemberton Troutfest for its second consecutive year, following the great turnout last year by more than 300 community members.
Recfishwest is excited to announce our two community trout stocking events have confirmed dates for 2023 – with Troutfest occurring this Saturday, 21 October at Drakesbrook Weir, Waroona and Pemberton Trout Festival at Big Brook Dam on Sunday, 5 November!
From 10am-1pm on Saturday, mums, dads and kids will have the chance to release radiant rainbow and beautiful brown trout into Drakesbrook Weir to celebrate WA’s freshwater fishery and the $37 million economic contribution spent each year from freshwater fishers in our South-West and Peel regions.
Along with the community having the chance to hand-release hundreds of trout at both the Waroona Troutfest and the Pemberton Trout Festival, free rod hire, free fly-casting tuitions, fly-tying demonstrations, a casting competition for kids and trout fishing tips are also on offer. Food and drink will be on sale at both trout stocking events.
Check out the highlights from Troutfest 2022 below at Drakesbrook Weir!
And to encourage more people to sample the delights of wetting a line for trout and redfin in the majestic South-West, 21 and 22 October has been made a freshwater fishing licence-free weekend (coinciding with Troutfest at Waroona) – so mums, dads and kids can wet a line in inland lakes, dams and rivers without needing to buy an annual licence.
Recfishwest is once again partnering with the Shire of Waroona and DPIRD to host the seventh annual Troutfest community fish stocking event, which has seen thousands of rainbow and brown trout stocked into Drakesbrook Weir over the years.
Meanwhile, the Pemberton Trout Festival, run in partnership with DPIRD and the Regional Development and Pemberton Visitor Centre, will return to Big Brook Dam foreshore and picnic area following the success of last year’s inaugural event, with families able to hand-release hundreds more big trout into their new homes on 5 November.
This event was first initiated 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).
Check out the highlights from the 2022 Pemberton Trout Festival below at Big Brook Dam!
Showcasing the Peel and Pemberton regions’ great trout and freshwater fishery, both stocking events are free and no registration is required, allowing families to roll up their sleeves to hand-release large rainbow and brown trout into their new homes.
“Troutfest is a great celebration of this fantastic fishery and has become a welcome fixture on WA’s fishing calendar since its inception in 2017. It showcases how fun and popular freshwater fishing is and how WA’s freshwater stocking program underpins this highly valued fishery,” said Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland.
“Recfishwest is proud to support DPIRD’s trout stocking program through the great work and advice of our Freshwater Fishing Reference Group. The fishing is always better when the fish are biting with a greater abundance of fish and this is a great example of how fish stocking helps keep the fun in fishing.
“We’re also delighted to see our second community trout stocking event return in November to Pemberton, the birthplace and ‘spiritual home’ of the South-West freshwater fishery. DPIRD does a great job with their Pemberton-based trout hatchery and we believe there is massive potential for expanding the trout stocking program and fishery. “
Each year, trout are stocked at various popular freshwater fishing rivers and dams, including Drakesbrook Weir, Harvey Dam, Waroona Dam, Collie River and Brunswick River. The released trout are hatched and reared at DPIRD’s Pemberton-based trout hatchery through the trout stocking program. To see where trout are planned to be stocked throughout our South-West waterways this season, click here.
Recfishwest, through its Freshwater Fisheries Reference Group, offers advice to DPIRD on where to stock each year’s cohort of trout.
Recfishwest thanks DPIRD, The Shire of Waroona, Pemberton Visitors Centre, The Shire of Manjimup, Alcoa, Daiwa, Healthway, Fishability and Act, Belong, Commit for their support in making these family-friendly events a reality.
With beautiful weather conditions and a buzzing crowd of more than 250 people, the sixth edition of Troutfest proved why it is one of the most enjoyable family-friendly events in our picturesque South-West.
The annual community event saw dozens of excited families lining up to hand-release around 350 rainbow trout and brown trout into the much-loved freshwater gem of Drakesbrook Weir.
While this year saw hundreds of smaller fingerlings and yearlings released once again by people of all ages, the larger splashes were a lot louder than previous Troutfest events, with more numbers of larger ex-broodstock trout – some upwards of 50cm in length – diving into their new Drakesbrook home.
Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland, Murray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke, Mr Robert Jetta and the Shire of Waroona President Mike Walmsley all rolled up their sleeves to help out during the event, made possible by the Shire of Waroona, Alcoa and DPIRD’s freshwater hatchery in Pemberton.
The Western Australian Trout and Freshwater Angling Association (WATFAA), the Australian Trout Foundation (ATF) and Southern Forests Freshwater Angling Club (SFFAC) also returned to help teach the next generation of freshwater fishers, with free fly-casting and fly-tying tuitions.
It was encouraging to see so many youngsters learning the life skills of fly fishing while trying their luck at landing a trout, with many experiencing the adrenaline rush of catching yearling and ex-broodstock trout on flies, lures and even corn kernels!
“When you see the enjoyment on not just the kids’ faces, but also the adults getting involved in hand-releasing this iconic species, it’s easy to see why this event is so symbolic to so many people and freshwater fishing in our South-West,” said Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland.
“Troutfest is now an eagerly anticipated and adored event by keen fishing families. It is highly valued by the WA recfishing and regional communities and there is no better way to celebrate the fantastic freshwater fishery in the State’s south.”
Troutfest is part of a carefully managed South-West trout stocking program, funded with assistance from recreational fishing licence fees through the RFIF to help improve the experiences of around 10,000 freshwater fishing licence holders who enjoy chasing trout from Pemberton to Waroona.
All 800 trout released into Drakesbrook Weir this year through the program were hatched and reared at DPIRD’s hatchery in Pemberton, which helps distribute hundreds of thousands of trout throughout our State’s fresh waterways each year.
Recfishwest, through its Freshwater Fisheries reference Group, offers advice to DPIRD on where to stock each year’s stock of bred trout throughout the South-West.
“A big thank you to the Shire of Waroona, Alcoa, Daiwa and our other event supporters for helping bring this great day to the community, and also DPIRD for their tremendous ongoing supply of rainbow and brown trout from their Pemberton hatchery,” added Andrew.
Missed out on Troutfest? Don’t worry, for the first time, a second community trout stocking event will occur on November 6 at the Big Brook Dam Foreshore & Picnic Area to celebrate 50 years of Fisheries Department Management of the Pemberton Hatchery!
For Recfishwest Operations Officer Sam Russell, the month-long marron fishing season is the best time of the year!
The self-confessed “marron maniac” is one of the State’s 10,000 marron licence holders who loves chasing the iconic freshwater species endemic to our South West from noon on 8 January to noon on 5 February, inclusive, each year.
Here’s Sam’s marvelous marron tips!
Recfishwest: What got you into marron fishing, Sam?
SR: I’m a Collie boy at heart, having grown up there, and marroning is definitely a popular pastime for a large part of the community. One of my first fishing experiences was catching marron in a neighbour’s dam when I was younger, and it’s something I’ll never forget.
RFW: What do you enjoy most about the South West’s freshwater marron fishery?
SR: For me, the scenery plays a big part in why I love it. Chasing marron in the South West’s pristine bushlands is an incredibly enjoyable fishing experience. The challenge of catching a marron with a snare also adds to the theatre. And, not to mention, that they taste pretty great as well!
RFW: What are your favorite spots to go for marron?
SR: I like to fish a wide variety of locations for marron. Most of the South West rivers and dams will hold marron, so it really does pay off to do a bit of exploring and try out different spots. If you’re new to marron fishing, dams are a really great place to start.
Locations like Harvey Dam, Waroona Dam and Logue Brook offer safe, accessible marron fishing opportunities for fishers of all skill levels.
In 2019, Premier Mark McGowan and Recfishwest launched a three-year stocking program in 2019 which will have seen 300,000 marron released into Peel and South West freshwater waterways by the end of this year, which is very exciting for the fishery!
RFW: For fishers new to marroning, what gear do they need?
SR: A snare, or a “bushman’s pole” depending on who you’re talking to, is the most enjoyable way to catch a feed of marron.
All you need is your snare, a quality head torch, a hessian bag to keep your catch in and some chook pellets.
Head to your target location, preferably at night because this is when marron are generally most active, and place a couple of handfuls of chook pellets close to the bank about 10m to 15m apart.
Wait half an hour and then check your baits for marron. If you see a marron on your bait, carefully loop the snare under the tail of the marron from behind, then pull up quickly when your snare reaches about where the carapace meets the tail. It is hard and does take some practice!
Try to only shine your torch as far ahead of you as you can reach with your snare. Also, remain as stealth as you can because marron are fast and will quickly slip back underneath the cloak of darkness if you’re not quiet.
SR: I love to cook marron on the barbecue. Simply cut the marron in half from the head to the tail, wash away the guts in the head and place the marron shell side down on medium heat. Scoop some butter, garlic and salt into the empty head cavity then baste this over the tail while it cooks. Cook until the meat goes white and firm then enjoy!
RFW: What fishing advice do you have for people chasing marron for the first time this season?
SR: Just get out there, have a crack, catching marron really isn’t that hard and is a fantastic way to spend an evening with family and friends. There are countless rivers and impoundments in the South West and Peel regions that hold marron. If you do your research, are willing to learn and explore some different spots, you’ll have a feed of marron in no time.
In the final Scott’s Species for 2021, Western Angler editor Scott Coghlan casts his eye (or fly!) at rainbow trout.
Species: Rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss
Eating: 3 stars
ID: Rainbows have a prominent pink stripe down their silver side.
Rainbow trout are an introduced species in Australia, with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and Recfishwest stocking trout across the South West and Peel regions each year.
They are largely a freshwater fish, although they can survive in a saltwater environment and have been to known to run to the ocean at the Donnelly River.
Trout can grow to big sizes elsewhere in the world. For example, the massive canal fish in New Zealand, but here in WA the biggest they get is about 4kg.
Most that are caught will be much smaller, from 30-50cm long, and weighing up to 2kg.
Pemberton is the heart of trout fishing in WA and is where most of our fish are bred at DPIRD’s hatchery before being released.
Every years hundreds of thousands of trout are released into WA waterways, from tiny fingerlings to big ex-broodstock fish, the latter providing most of the large fish captures locally.
They can be found in rivers, streams and impoundments across the South West and Peel regions.
Interestingly, our WA trout have evolved to become more heat tolerant than those in other parts of the world.
Rainbows love fast running water and will often be found around rapids in rivers and streams, or where water runs into dams.
They are an aggressive fish, known to take a fly, lure, spinner or bait.
Sometimes they strike because they are chasing prey, but other times they appear to do so because they are territorial.
Rainbow trout will usually jump when hooked. The key to consistent trout success when fishing rivers is working out where the fish will be holding and getting your offering into that area.
Put the lure or fly in the right spot enough times and you should catch fish. This is a skill that is learned from time spent trout fishing, as you eventually see a pattern emerging.
In rivers, they generally pick spots where food will be funneled past and ideally where they can hold out of the main current, such as behind a rock or log.
If you are lucky enough to be on the water when there is an insect hatch on, especially impoundment fishing, then you will experience a different side to trout fishing, as they will rise repeatedly and gorge themselves on the food on the surface, making dry fly an option.
There aren’t many classical trout fishing locations in WA where anglers can wade and sight cast to fish, with Pemberton having a couple that can be fished that way when water levels are suitable.
Rather, WA trout fishers need to be persistent and ingenious, finding ways to get lures or flies to fish.
Take it from me, fly fishing in many river and stream locations in WA is extremely difficult, as it is difficult to access the water and even harder to back cast, but it can usually be done.
In many spots, spinning tackle is much more feasible and enjoyable. Floating hardbody minnow lures are my preference when spinning, as you can float them down with the current to access areas that are not able to be cast to.
Some of our smaller streams are so heavily overgrown the only way to fish them is to poke the rod through the scrub and then drop the lure down and let it drift downstream.
Upstream fly fishing is impossible in most areas, so similar tactics on fly are often used.
Obviously, dam fishing is much easier, especially for newcomers to trout fishing, and it can be very productive, either casting from the bank or fishing from a boat or canoe.
Trout will happily take trolled lures. I have fond memories of the glory days of Waroona Dam, when it fished sensationally for fat rainbow trout.
For fly fishing I can’t go past a weighted Woolly Bugger as the fly of choice, or a Mrs Simpson when impoundment fishing.
Occasionally I will use a nymph and opt for wet flies 99 per cent of the time, very rarely getting to try a dry.
For lures, there are plenty of bibbed minnows that will work, and oddly enough the best colouration seems to be rainbow trout. Bladed spinners also work well.
If bait is your preference then it’s hard to go past worms! If spinning, light gear is all that is needed to subdue them, and tackle of 2-4kg will normally be ample.
For fly fishing, a 6-weight would be a good starting point, although lighter outfits can make for a lot of fun on smaller fish.
Pemberton offers a great range of locations to try on the Lefroy Brook, Treen Brook and Warren River, as well as Big Brook Dam.
The Donnelly River is also a good fishery, while the upper reaches of the Collie River has been stocked heavily in recent years.
Harvey Dam is probably our most popular fishery these days, offering rainbows as well as brown trout and redfin perch.