Lake Kununurra brimming over with barra

There has been more great news for WA barra fishers with an extra 100,000 juvenile barra released into Lake Kununurra last week and another 100,000 fish released this week, taking the total number of barramundi stocked in the lake since 2013 to more than 850,000.

Getting ready to roll – another batch of barra about to be released into the lake.
Lake Kununurra Barramundi Stocking Group member Curt McCartney with a beautiful bronze barra from the lake.

The lake has been quickly establishing itself as a world-class barramundi fishing location and local members of the Lake Kununurra Barramundi Stocking group say fish are averaging more than a metre!

Read more about the Lake Kununurra Barra stocking program here.

Last week’s stocking of 100,000 barra was funded by a

Regional Economic Development (RED) grant and the Broome Aquaculture centre did such a good job in breeding barra they ended up with twice as many fish as they needed! This provided an opportunity for even more fish to be stocked into the lake, but they needed additional funds to transport the extra fish to Kununurra.

Acting quickly from a request by Recfishwest, the Minister for Fisheries approved the use of recreational fishing licence funds to transport and stock the remaining 100,000 fish.

Read the Minister for Fisheries’ media release here. 

The stocking of Lake Kununurra clearly demonstrates how well-planned stocking programs to create amazing fishing experiences can bring enormous benefits to local communities.

Avid local recfisher Curt McCartney has caught and tagged more than 100 barramundi in the Lake and says the big, fat, bronze monsters are often not difficult to find, but can provide a challenge to entice as they’re all so well fed on the lake’s abundant supply of bait fish!

Check out these sounder images showing barramundi schools hanging just off the bottom.  If that doesn’t get barra nuts’ casting arms twitching – we don’t know what will!

You can check an article in The West about Curt cracking 100 tagged barra and the great fishing on offer within the lake here

STOP PRESS! Check out this 1.3 metre barra caught from the lake by barra enthusiast Curt McCartney after this article was originally published! This is just more proof that the barra stocking program is really delivering the goods.

What a monster of a barramundi caught by Curt McCartney, 1.3m of solid Kununurra barra, you beauty!

Tagged Barra Caught Seven Years After Original Release in Roebuck Bay

A recent capture of a tagged barra in Dampier Creek near Broome has shown stocking programs can and do pay long-term fishing dividends.

Barramundi being released back in 2012

Steve Chambers from Tackle World Broome recently reported one of his customers had caught a 76cm-long tagged barramundi in Dampier Creek.

The barra was later identified as a stocked fish from a batch of 1,000 barra released in Dampier Creek, Roebuck Bay in 2012 – as part of a stocking program funded by one of our Community Grants – click here for more info about community grants.

At the time of its release on 16 August 2012,  the fish – ‘barra no.1873’ – measured 39.5cm.

It’s great to see this fish, reared by the Broome Aquaculture Centre of Kimberley TAFE, being caught and showing that the released fish are still out there and continuing to provide fishing experiences.

The fish, before their release, were screened for their high health status and were expected to have a great survival rate.

While the fish appears to have been relatively slow-growing, the recapture reflects how much of a long-term investment stocked fish like these are providing benefits to the fishing community a number of years later.

Barramundi being released back in 2012

Women in the West

“The West Kimberley women’s fishing course is something that I (Sara) have wanted to do (through the Mary Island Fishing Club) for a long time.  There are so many women out there that go fishing and camping with their partners and families and do not have the ability or confidence to really “do it for themselves.’ As a result they tend to gravitate to the stereotypical women role of organising the food, looking after the kids and just winding in a fish and more often than not reliant on the “men” to help them all the time to facilitate the act of fishing.” Sara Hennessy, Mary Island Fishing Club.

“We had been proposing to run a series of women’s fishing clinics for quite some time and were getting more and more queries from local women asking WHEN Are we going to do it!!!”

“In 2017 we decided to apply for a grant through the Recfishwest Community Grants Program to help with the funding required to organise, promote and produce the program. We were delighted to hear we were successful in our application and immediately began summarising and finalising the program.” Sara Hennessy, Mary Island Fishing Club.

The program began in March 2018 and over 10 weeks, the highly enthusiastic women undertook a well-planned training program enabling them to build fishing networks, confidence, and interact with other women in the region whilst building the knowledge and skills to be competent in many fishing related areas. The program (with the help from local community organisations) involved:

  • Basic fisheries rules and licencing details session
  • Places to fish around Derby and local catch information
  • Knots, rigs and tackle information and demonstrations
  • Casting and learning to throw a net
  • Trailer talk (how to back a trailer, launch and retrieving), practical session at Derby port
  • Getting to know your tackle – how to look after your reels, basic reel servicing
  • Basic boat mechanics – trouble shotting simple mechanical issues
  • How to fillet fish
  • Recreational Skippers Ticket

The West Kimberley Women’s Fishing Clinics (WKWFC) were a resounding success overall.  Over 10 weeks, multiple aspects of the key skills needed to successfully fish & boat were covered.

”47 women signed up for the sessions, this was more than double what we had expected or budgeted for!” Sara Hennessy, Mary Island Fishing Club.

Mary Island Fishing Club would like to thank the Fisheries department for their support who provided free info/kits to all participants and also Cone Bay Barra farm who

donated fish for the filleting/processing catch sessions.

All in all the participants that attended the numerous sessions achieved great outcomes and walked away with an entire new skill set and some great friendships.

 

Round 8 of the Community Grants are opening soon! Stay up to date via our monthly broadcast, fishing reports, Website and social media channels.

Barra Bonanza in Lake Kununurra

Future Mecca for Barramundi Fishing

For a lot of Australians catching a big Barramundi is high on their bucket list. The iconic sportfish is a favourite target for lure fishing, and a highly regarded table fish. Striking hard and providing strong runs once hooked, Barramundi put up a challenging and spirited fight as they manoeuvre around snags and launch into impressive aerial leaps attempting to shake the hook. The experience sells itself.

Most people think that to access the best Barramundi fishing you need to travel to remote creek systems in Australia’s north or impoundments along the East coast. Many regard places such as Kakadu and Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory or Tinaroo Dam in Queensland as the best option for thrill seekers chasing a Barramundi fix. You will be pleased to learn that Australia’s next big barra fishery is much closer to home, with locals and tourists already tangling with fish over the ‘holy grail’ meter in length.

“To put it into perspective, fish which were released as 5cm fingerlings three years ago are now over a metre in length!”

Lake Kununurra in the states North East is producing Barramundi fishing like nothing experienced before. Local champions have worked passionately to enable the stocking of Barramundi to be a success and over 500,000 Barramundi fingerlings stocked into the lake since 2012 are now providing some of the most exciting fishing around.

The Barramundi in Lake Kununurra cannot naturally reproduce in a closed freshwater system. The fish spend their entire lives eating and growing and with no natural predators, some enormous barramundi have been able to gorge themselves to significant size on the abundance of natural bait in the system.

The stocking program which finished last year has shown us enough of what potential Lake Kununurra holds as a Barramundi hotspot. To put it into perspective, fish which were released as fingerlings three years ago are now over a metre in length!

Key stocking facilitator, Kununurra local and Barramundi enthusiast Dick Pasfield says “The barra fishing in Lake Kununurra is world class and should only get better”. A local group has formed in the absence of continued stocking to investigate potential avenues.
“ Now that the stocking program has been completed and the building blocks of an amazing fishery have been laid the local stocking group will continue working to develop it into one of Australia’s premier impoundment fisheries” Pasfield stated.

Barramundi fishing is huge for Kununurra locals and the economic and social return from the stocking program will far exceed the actual cost of the program. It is a fitting tribute to the hard work and vision of the local community over the last 20 years that Lake Kununurra is now on the world sportfishing stage.

Former president of the Broome Fishing Club and Portfolio Manager at the North Regional Tafe aquaculture facilities Jeff Cooper says “what we have here is the start of something very exciting, the untold potential of impoundment Barramundi fishing in Lake Kununurra is something we should not take for granted. This opportunity is unmatched and the possibilities are endless”.

Recfishwest will continue to follow Lake Kununurra Barramundi developments and are in full support of realising the untapped potential of Lake Kununurra Barramundi fishing as well as assisting in the continued growth and tourism benefit to North West communities.

 

Roebuck Bay Marine Park a Win for Fishing

Recfishwest welcomes the final management plan for the Roebuck Bay Marine Park, which has retained unrestricted recreational fishing access. The plan was announced by Premier Colin Barnett and we believe it strikes the perfect balance between recreation and conservation, illustrating that recreational fishing is compatible with conservation goals.

It provides increased protection for the conservation values of Roebuck Bay while maintaining recreational fishing access to this vitally important area. This further builds on the massive advances in conservation made by the removal of commercial netting a couple of years ago, which has provided a massive boost to Barramundi and Threadfin Salmon fishing in the Bay.
Although there has been some opposition to the plan from those who wanted sanctuary zones and fishing lockout restrictions, we believe it compliments current fisheries management and has struck October a good balance between restoring, protecting and managing natural values of Roebuck Bay while allowing recreational use for all stakeholders.

It is important to note that the local community, including the traditional owners, have been extensively involved during the consultation process which led to the final management plan. Recfishwest believes the plan celebrates fishing as an extremely important and highly valued recreational and cultural activity within Roebuck Bay.

The Broome Fishing Club has welcomed the news with former club president Derek ‘Jig’ Albert saying the management arrangements to ensure great fishing and protection of the environment were currently working in Broome and the community hadn’t experienced this quality of fishing in decades. He pointed to a marked rise in key fish stocks, such as Barramundi and Threadfin Salmon, as proof current management was working.

The management plan also provides comprehensive protection for marine mammals which are already protected under the state Wildlife Conservation Act and the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. The Yawuru people will play a significant role in the joint management of this park and Recfishwest looks forward to working with both Parks and Wildlife and the Yawuru PBC in promoting stewardship of the Roebuck Bay environment.
Our commitment is to protect, promote and develop sustainable, accessible, enjoyable and safe fishing for the benefit of the community.

Soon Kununurra will be able to provide both great impoundment and wild river fishing opportunities for visitors to the town, a unique combination sure to appeal to many anglers.
(Photos of competition courtesy of ABC Kimberley)

Roebuck Bay Marine Park: Where Conservation and Recreation Join Forces

Roebuck Bay Marine Park: Where Conservation and Recreation Join Forces
Recfishwest welcomes today’s release of the final management plan for Yawuru Nagulagun/Roebuck Bay Marine Park by the Premier, Hon Colin Barnett. This plan provides increased protection for the conservation values of Roebuck Bay while maintaining recreational fishing access to this vitally important area on the door step of Broome.

Recfishwest supports measures that sustain and protect healthy oceans and quality fishing experiences. The management plan announced today provides a win for both conservation and the community and demonstrates recreational fishing is compatible with marine conservation objectives.
Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said the plan celebrates fishing as an extremely important and highly valued recreational and cultural activity within Roebuck Bay.

“The management plan compliments current fisheries management and has struck a good balance between restoring, protecting and managing natural values of Roebuck Bay while allowing recreational use for all stakeholders”, said Dr Rowland.

“Current fisheries management in Roebuck Bay has resulted in fishing experiences being the best in living memory and has gone from strength to strength in the bay since the removal of commercial netting in late 2013.”

Former Broome Fishing Club President Jig Albert said management arrangements that ensure great fishing and protection of the environment are currently working in Broome and the community haven’t experienced this quality of fishing in decades.

“We’ve seen a marked rise in key fish stocks, namely Barramundi and Threadfin Salmon, so the proof is in the pudding in terms of current management working,” Mr Albert said.

The management plan also provides comprehensive protection for marine mammals which are already protected under the state Wildlife Conservation Act and the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

The new management plan is also important in fulfilling the cultural aspirations of the Yawuru people who will play a significant role in the joint management of this park. Recfishwest supports the Management Plan and look forward to working with both Parks and Wildlife and the Yawuru PBC in promoting stewardship of the Roebuck Bay environment.

Our commitment is to protect, promote and develop sustainable, accessible, enjoyable and safe fishing for the benefit of the community.

ENDS________________________________________
MEDIA CONTACT: Tim Grose, 9246 3366 or tim@recfishwest.org.au

World Class Fishery for Kununurra

The prospect of a world-class impoundment fishery in the Kimberley is looming large, as reports of exciting Barramundi action on Lake Kununurra gather momentum.
What started out as a very challenging project for all involved, and especially the staff and students at Broome’s Kimberley Training Institute, appears to have been extremely successful in anecdotal reports are anything to go by.

There have been reports of numerous fish from 55-90cm being caught in recent months and even the odd trophy metre-plus fish. When the program was launched, it was hoped Lake Kununurra could eventually provide an impoundment barra fishery to match those on the east coast and that day appears closer than ever.

Photo courtesy of ABC Kimberley

The initial project, which has been strongly supported by Recfishwest and been funded by the Department of Fisheries as part of the Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy, has now been completed and more than 550,000 fish have been restocked into the 55km-long dam. Notably, the project has been completed under-budget and ahead of schedule. The next step will be assessing the success of the project before considering further funding to continue the good work.

Locals in Kununurra say their boat ramp has never been as busy as in recent months, and Jeff Cooper from the KTI said it was encouraging that electrofishing earlier this year produced fish at every location tried along the entire length of the lake.  Two of the fish caught this way were over a metre in length, and he said the fish being caught were in prime condition, likely feeding mostly on bony herring and redclaw.

Jeff said the project had provided fantastic training for his students, who were involved in all aspects of the restocking.  He added that the project had benefitted from the collaboration between several government agencies.  The broodstock used to produce the fish for the Lake Kununurra stocking was caught from the Ord River.

With great community support and world-class science, not only are the rec fishers of the Kimberley benefiting, but Kununurra’s tourism industry just got an exciting boost.

More Barra for Kununurra

Recreational fishers who catch Barramundi in Lake Kununurra are being asked to report catches to Recfishwest and the Kimberley Training Institute (KTI).
Another 130,000 Barramundi, around 4-5cm in size, were released into the lake last month, bringing the total of fish released through the current restocking program to over 530,000 in the last four years. These latest fish were marked with dye so they can be identified.

The restocking program for Lake Kununurra is supported by Recfishwest and has been achieved with fish bred at the KTI in Broome.
Another 20,000 bigger fish will be released shortly, to complete the initial restocking program.
The latest batch were released near Crossing Falls, an area which boasts extensive wetland weed systems, good access to deep water and access to get the trailer and fish close to the water.
There have been reports of fish to 80cm being caught in the lake, and we want to know about any catches, to help gauge the success of the program.

It is hoped the restocking will pave the way for a world-class impoundment fishery for Barramundi in Kununurra.
Importantly, the KTI has exceeded initial targets for the restocking, and been able to do it ahead of schedule, with support from the Department of Parks and Wildlife and Department of Transport.

The program is funded by the Kimberley Science Conservation Strategy, through the Department of Fisheries and is supported by Recfishwest. We look forward to continued restocking activities in the East Kimberley.

Roebuck Bay Marine Park

Conservation and Community Benefit in Roebuck Bay

Recfishwest today said the release of the new Roebuck Bay Marine Park Indicative Management Plan provides a win for both conservation and the community, especially as it celebrates the role recreational fishing plays in the Kimberley.

Recfishwest CEO, Dr Andrew Rowland said the new marine park demonstrates that recreational fishing is compatible with marine conservation.
“We are pleased to see management activities focused on conserving the values that underpin good quality fishing experiences and where shared access can be enjoyed by all,” Dr Rowland said.

“We’ve already seen important conservation activities in the Kimberley, namely the stocking of the iconic Barramundi, where recreational fishers are giving back to help maintain a sustainable fishery.”

The new management plan is also important in fulfilling the cultural aspirations of the Yawuru people who will play a significant role in the planned joint management arrangements of this park.

“This type of management will bring the community closer together as it provides opportunities to share cultures around fishing.”
The management arrangements in this marine park complement the government’s 2013 decision to purchase all of Roebuck Bay’s commercial netting licences under the Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy.

Broome Fishing Club President Derek Albert said fishing in Roebuck Bay has never been better.

“The Bay is a world class fishing location, providing fantastic opportunities for safe and enjoyable fishing experiences for the whole community” Mr Albert said.
To read Environment Minister Albert Jacob’s Media Statement, click here.

More Barra Released

AROUND 100,000 Barramundi fingerlings around 70-100mm in length were released into Lake Kununurra late last month, March 2013.

The latest stocking by the Kimberley Training Institute in Broome is part of the ongoing program to create a world-class impoundment fishery in Kununurra. There have now been close to 400,000 barramundi stocked into Lake Kununurra since the program started early in 2013.

The good news that there are reports of small barra of around the size that would be expected after the stockings being caught. Fish from 45-60cm in size have been caught in the Lake, which is in line in what was hoped for at this stage.

As have proven by barra stockings over east, success can be a lengthy process, with the stocking of Lake Tinnaroo taking more than five years to reap full dividends.  More stockings in Lake Kununurra are planned for later this year and rec fishers are already starting to see the benefits of having a developing world class sports fishery on their doorstep!