If you haven’t fished Kununurra, there’s one million reasons why you should – barramundi!
A mere 45km from the Northern Territory border, remote WA town Kununurra provides a terrific base to explore parts of the vast Kimberley – WA’s northernmost region. Western Angler editor Scott Coghlan’s latest edition of Scott’s Spots pinpoints the go-to locations near Kununurra to catch big barramundi!
It’s been a big year for fishing in WA– 300,000 barramundi released in Lake Kununurra, a new State-wide FADs trial and officially evaluating rec fishing as being worth $2.4 billion annually to the W.A. economy – to name just three huge wins.
It’s a good time to reflect on the year and recognise the great contributions of some of the unsung heroes in the recfishing community.
The fishing community is made up of many dedicated, passionate and hardworking people who often don’t get recognised for the tireless work they do. Our recfishing sector benefits from people standing up for what they believe in, sharing their passion and developing new and innovative ways of promoting the diverse array of fishing experiences we have in WA. With their support and outstanding contributions, we’re confident the future of WA recfishing looks bright.
It is with great pleasure that the Recfishwest team celebrates individuals and groups within the fishing community who help make fishing better, by recognising them through our inaugural annual Recfishwest Community Awards. The recipients of the awards are as follows:
CLUB, GROUP OR ASSOCIATION RECOGNITION AWARD
This award is in recognition of a club, group or association that are regarded as community champions shaping the fishing future for their local community and making outstanding contributions towards improving fishing experiences. The recipient of this award has proactively searched for new opportunities and continually striven for better fishing opportunities in the hope that locals and visitors can catch that fish of a lifetime, every time.
We would like to congratulate the Lake Kununurra Barramundi Stocking Group as the recipient of this award for their stocking and tagging efforts over the past year. With the help of North Regional TAFE, these local champions have worked passionately to get more barramundi stocked into Lake Kununurra. The group has also tagged hundreds of barra in the lake to track their growth and development over time to ensure barramundi fishing has a bright future in the East Kimberley.
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 regarded as a world-class trophy barramundi fishery. Well done to all those involved. Read more about this fishery here.
ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY RECOGNITION AWARD
This award gives recognition for environmental initiatives implemented to support recreational fishing experiences. As environmental sustainability becomes increasingly important for communities and the recreational fishing industry, it’s important we lead the way in sustainable innovation, practices and projects to protect what we all love for future generations to come.
We are thrilled to present this award to Ecotone Consulting for their work on ways to improve the sustainability of WA’s iconic marron fishery through research, breeding and stocking.
The project saw Pemberton Freshwater Research Centre (PFRC) staff capture marron as part of a breeding trial to that released thousands of tiny ‘crayling’ (juvenile marron) into Harvey Dam, a popular recreational marron fishing location. The trial’s success allowed Recfishwest to convince the Government to invest recreational fishing licence fees into stocking 300,000 marron into popular fishing dams over the next three years. This commitment is a huge first step toward the dream we share with the community of giving recfishers and families the opportunity to go marroning every weekend and every school holiday. Read more about the marron stocking projects here and here.
PROJECT RECOGNITION AWARD
This award recognises projects that not only deliver great fishing outcomes for the community but also break new ground through innovation and paves the way for similar projects into the future. Delivering meaningful, innovative and long lasting projects for the community is vital to ensure the ongoing development of our fishing is maintained and enhanced.
The Project Recognition Award goes to Subcon for their outstanding efforts to help drive and deploy Exmouth’s King Reef, Australia’s first Integrated Artificial Reef.
The King Reef project brings together a long held community vision, world-leading engineering solutions and science to benefit the environment and the recreational fishing community of Exmouth. King Reef is now proving to be the fastest developing artificial reef in the country, with over 90 species seen in the reef since it was deployed.
Lead by Matt Allen, Subcon’s passion for artificial reef development is not new to WA, with the Esperance Artificial Reef and the giant Perth Fish Towers also coming under the Subcon brand. By harnessing re-purposed steel structures donated from BHP and augmenting them with purpose-built concrete reef modules, Subcon’s influence on King Reef will provide a legacy for the Exmouth community forever. As national leaders in artificial reef engineering, Subcon has helped provide safe, accessible and enjoyable fishing experiences to local and travelling fishers. Read more about King Reef in the following stories:
FISHING EVENT RECOGNITION AWARD
This award recognises a WA-hosted event which demonstrates growth and agility towards an ever changing and growing recreational fishing sector. The event must significantly contribute to the regional economy by being a major draw-card for the region and attempts to cater for varying levels of fishing abilities.
This award is being presented to Carnar-fin, one of WA’s premier fishing events, held in Carnarvon each year and organised by the Carnarvon Chamber of Commerce. Carnar-fin is an annual fishing competition open to recreational fishers of all skill levels, and has been held in the last week of May since its inception in 1992.
The competition attracts a wide range of fishers from the region and around the state and injects an estimated $600,000 into the Carnarvon economy every year.
The event is different from many others in the sense that all fish that are to be weighed in have to be gutted, gilled and in good condition. This ensures that any fish caught and weighed in, is then not wasted and remains in good eating condition. This is a great example of fishers demonstrating best practice with their catch.
The event is sponsored and supported by a large number of local businesses, highlighting the importance of the event and the value these sponsors see in Carnar-fin to the town and to the region.
COMMUNITY CHAMPION AWARD
The Recfishwest Community Champion Award recognises an outstanding individual who demonstrates leadership and commitment towards the betterment of recreational fishing in their local community.
It is with great pleasure we congratulate Steve Riley – Co-owner of Exmouth Tackle and Camping Supplies, for his exceptional work to make fishing better in Exmouth, particularly in his hard work to push for an artificial reef to provide safe accessible and enjoyable fishing for small boats, families and tourists within the Exmouth Gulf.
For those of you who have travelled to Exmouth to enjoy the great outdoors, or have had the opportunity to have a go at the variety of great fishing opportunities, you’ve probably run into Steve – known as one of Exmouth’s great fishing characters.
Steve lives and breathes fishing. But most important is Steve’s enthusiasm to share his fishing knowledge and encourage everyone to have a go at the great fishing that Exmouth coastline has to offer.
Steve has been awarded the Community Champion award for his exceptional work in all facets of the King Reef Artificial Reef Project in Exmouth. Steve championed for a reef many years ago, and gained local support, applied for funding, and provided local advice on the best location for the reef. Now he is actively involved in the Exmouth Reef Vision monitoring program for King Reef and provides on ground support to volunteers.
Recfishwest would like to once again congratulate the recipients of the 2019 Recfishwest Recognition Awards and we thank them for the contributions they’ve made toward recreational fishing.
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.
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!
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.
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!
STOP THE PRESS!
Check out this 1.3m 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.
When barramundi were first stocked into Lake Kununurra in 2013, not many people imagined the quality of fishing that the lake would produce in such a short amount of time.
The abundance of baitfish and lack of predators within Lake Kununurra saw barramundi reaching one metre in length within three years of age!
Any barramundi over one metre is a phenomenal fish and a bucket list target for many fishers.
Lake Kununurra is evolving into a sensational destination for anglers to chase their first barra and is a bona fide big barra waterway that continues to produce trophy sized fish.
The stocking of Lake Kununurra has forged the waterway into perhaps WA’s best barramundi fishery.
More than 650,000 barramundi fingerlings have been stocked since the project was announced back in 2012.
We’re pleased to report that more than 100,000 more barramundi fingerlings have been stocked into Lake Kununurra this year, including many at today’s stocking event.
This year’s stocking was funded through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund, adding to the number of great projects funded using recreational fishing licence money.
Read what the Fisheries Minister had to say about today’s stocking here.
Lake Kununurra: A world-class barra playground
As planned, Lake Kununurra is now regarded as a world-class trophy barramundi fishery (plus there are no saltwater crocs or huge Kimberley tides to deal with).
If these monsters continue to grow as expected it won’t be long before the Lake could hold Australia’s biggest barra.
If you want to keep up to date with the latest catches, check out Lake Kununurra Barramundi Stocking Group on Facebook.
If you ever find yourself lucky enough to explore the Kimberley, ensure you visit Kununurra and test your luck tracking down an iconic barramundi on the lake’s calm protected waters.
Catching a big barra is a quintessential Kimberly experience and Lake Kununurra is now one of the best places to do it!
We are blessed in WA with some of the best fishing found anywhere in the country. In fact, I would argue that our 12,000km coastline provides the best variety of fishing experiences in Australia, writes Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland. Continue reading “Recfishwest in the Regions”
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 barra fix.
However, 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 measuring more than the ‘holy grail’ 1m 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 State’s Kimberley is producing barramundi fishing like nothing experienced before.
Local champions have worked passionately to enable the stocking of barramundi to be a success and more than 500,000 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 said the barra fishing in Lake Kununurra was world-class and should only get better.
“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,” he said.
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 said:
“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.
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. Continue reading “World-class fishery 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.
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!