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!

More Barra Stocked into Lake Kununurra

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.

Hon. Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly, Recfishwest CEO and North Regional TAFE Portfolio Manager Jeff Cooper at the stocking event today. Photo credit: ABC Kimberley

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. Over 650,000 barramundi fingerlings have been stocked since the project was announced back in 2012.

We’re pleased to report that over 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.

Over 650,000 barramundi fingerlings have been stocked since the project was announced back in 2012

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!

Visitors and locals are reporting fantastic catches coming from the lake! Photo credit: Northbound Charters
As planned, Lake Kununurra is now regarded as a world class trophy barramundi fishery. Photo credit: Lake Kununurra Barramundi Stocking Group.

Recfishwest in the Regions

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.

Lake Kununurra Barra Stocking

Regional fishing experiences form part of the core identity for many local communities and these experiences are also an important tourism drawcard for many of these towns. This is why it’s so important for Recfishwest to be connected to our regional communities.  Although we do this in a number of ways, by far the best way to properly understand what fishers are telling us is by visiting these locations ourselves.

This week, our staff have made visits to Esperance, Carnarvon and Kununurra.

Today I am in Kununurra as part of the ongoing barramundi stocking program in town. The program started back in 2012 and has seen over 650,000 barra released into Lake Kununurra.

Leyland Campbell, Recfishwest’s Operations Manager, is in Carnarvon for the annual Carnar-fin Fishing Competition and will be attending the competition weigh in and Kids Competition on Saturday. Leyland will be discussing all things fishing with locals, including pink snapper management and the proposed artificial reef for Carnarvon.

Steph deploying BRUVS on Esperance’s Cooper Reef

Our Research Officer Steph Watts just got back from a trip to Esperance where she gathered important information on Esperance’s new artificial reef. Steph, with the help of the Volunteer Marine Rescue and the Esperance Deep Sea Angling Club, deployed underwater cameras to record fish populations on the reef. This visit also included updating club members on the reef and other Recfishwest projects. I can tell you Esperance Jetty remains a hot topic for local fishers.

The many different events we attend whether it be fishing clinics, public meetings, competitions, stocking days or research trips allow us to better engage with regional communities and hear directly from grassroots fishers.

The time the Recfishwest team spend in the numerous fishing towns around the state is invaluable to our organisation. It allows us to connect directly with the fishers on the ground and gather a first-hand understanding of their needs.

Recfishwest Sunsmart Fishing Clinic held at Gamex in Exmouth

If you are attending a fishing event somewhere in the state, chances are we will be there! So keep an eye out for the Recfishwest team and say ‘G’day’, we are always keen to hear your views on how to make your fishing better!

Dr Andrew Rowland

Cheif Executive Officer

Underwater footage from Cooper Reef

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.

 

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.

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!