Chasing the mighty marron with a freshwater fishing expert

For Recfishwest Operations Officer Sam Russell, the month-long marron fishing season is the best time of the year!

The self-confessed “marron madman” 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.

There’s still time to catch a feed of marron this season, so Sam has shared his helpful tips!

Recfishwest’s Sam Russell is a self-confessed “marron madman” and has an affinity for the iconic South West freshwater crustacean.

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.

You can also fish for marron with scoops and drop nets, although there are quite a few rules regarding where you can use each capture method as well as specified gear dimensions. I recommend heading to the Department of Industries and Regional Development’s fisheries website and familiarising yourself with the rules before heading out.

Attempting to snare a marron or two at places such as Harvey Dam is great fun.

RFW: How’d you like cooking your marron?

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.

Tim Grose, of Recfishwest, with a cracking South West marron!

Scott’s Species – rainbow trout, somewhere over the rainbow

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.

Tom Howe with a lovely rainbow trout from near Pemberton. 📸 Angus Line / Fly Fishing Outfitters

Want to see where trout were stock recently? Click here!

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.

Kiefer Jackson tempted this rainbow trout while exploring the South West,

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.

Check out the eye-catching colours on this rainbow trout! 📸 Zach Relph / Recfishwest

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.

NT-based fisher Kjell Hensen headed to Lefroy to catch his first rainbow trout while on a fishing holiday in WA.

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.

Recfishwest’s Sam Russell is a self-confessed trout tragic!

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.

Safe to say Steph Watts was more than happy with this Waroona Dam rainbow.

Harvey Dam is probably our most popular fishery these days, offering rainbows as well as brown trout and redfin perch.

The annual Troutfest, held by Recfishwest in partnership with the Shire of Waroona, sees thousands of trout released into Drakesbrook Weir each year.

Also, Recfishwest hosts Fish in the ‘Burbs at Austin Lakes Estate, South Yunderup, stocking rainbows at a safe and accessible lake in the middle of surburbia to give more fishers access to the joys of trout angling.

These are just a few of the more popular locations and the rewards are there for those keen to explore.

While they appeal to many people on the plate, I’m not one of the people who loves eating rainbow trout and prefer to catch and release.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland with rainbow trout fingerlings at last year’s Troutfest.

The start of a stocking program that could take marron fishing to the next level

Great-tasting and awesome to catch — it’s safe to say marron are a South West icon and favourite species among many WA fishers.

That’s why Recfishwest was pleased to be involved in kicking-off an important stocking program at the weekend, which will see 300,000 marron released into South West freshwater waterways over the next three years.

Recfishwest joined Jordan Parker and Scott Bell from Solair Group to release 2,300 marron into Logue Brook Dam, near Harvey.

“That felt like a lot of marron, but it’s less than one per cent of what’s going to be stocked in the next three years,” Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said.

WATCH: How’s this fantastic footage from the weekend’s marron release!?

Backed by the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund (RFIF) and announced by Premier Mark McGowan, Dr Rowland said it was great to get the pointy end of this marron stocking project underway with the first of the one-year-old marron going in the water.

“These marron have been bred at Solair Group’s Capel-based hatchery and were nurtured through the vulnerable stages of their life to maximise post-release survival,” he said.

“So, when will you be able to catch these marron? They will be legal size by next marron season.”

Two of the 2,300 stocked marron getting acquainted with their new Logue Brook home.

Safeguarding against changing environment 

An important part of this three-year program will involve scientific monitoring to determine its effectiveness with the objective of future-proofing this fishery from environmental change.

Marron are endemic to WA’s South West and provide terrific fishing experiences for the 10,000 fishers who hold marron fishing licences.

However, Dr Rowland said declining annual rainfall and reduced stream flows are placing marron populations under pressure.

“South West dams such as Harvey, Glen Mervyn, Waroona and Logue Brook will play an increasingly important role in supporting good marron catches,” he said.

“While we can’t change the weather, we can support healthy population abundances through programs like this, in turn making fishing better.”

Making fishing better

Most importantly, Dr Rowland said the stocking program was designed to enhance the fishery and was exactly the sort of initiative Recfishwest want to see fishing licence money spent on.

“We want to ensure fishers will continue to be able to explore the South West and continue to catch marron for many, many more years to come,” he said.

“The weekend’s marron release was a great start and a major step towards Recfishwest’s vision of expanding the current month-long season towards year-round marron fishing.”

This marron stocking project will help protect marron stocks from environmental pressures.

A brighter future for the WA trout and freshwater fishery

It was fantastic to see the enthusiasm and appetite for trout fishing this weekend down at Drakesbrook Weir, Waroona, for our annual Troutfest event.

Fisheries Minister 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.

Click here to see what the Minister had to say

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.

A recalibrated stocking program could see more trophy tout like one of these brown beauties to fish for! 

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.

The Minister for Fisheries Dave Kelly (left) getting hands on with WA’s trout stocking program.

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.

This is what it’s all a-trout! 

Get ‘trout and about’ in our South West freshwater ways and give trout fishing a go

Trout fishing in the South West’s freshwater fishery 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 31.  Continue reading “Get ‘trout and about’ in our South West freshwater ways and give trout fishing a go”

Freshwater licence-free weekend and Recfishwest’s Troutfest

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 Fathers’ Day!

Recfishwest is teaming up with the Western Australian Trout and 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.

This event aims to be the freshwater version of Snapper Guardians – a fun day out for the whole family to enjoy!

Event details:
• Saturday 2 September, 2017.
• Starts at 10.00am to 1.30pm.
• Drakesbrook Weir, Waroona.

The day will include:
• Trout stocking.
• Freshwater fishing tuition for all ages.
• Fly casting.
• Freshwater tackle and 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

Click here to view the flyer for this year’s anticipated Troutfest!

For more information about fishing for freshwater trout, visit I Love Fishing here.

To view the Minister’s media statement, click here.

Trout at Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s trout hatchery at Pemberton.