The Premier Mark McGowan and Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly joined Recfishwest at Harvey Dam for a marron stocking event to announce a trial stocking program that will see 300,000 marron released into south-west dams in the next three years.
The trial stocking program is one of a suite of programs given the green light as part of the latest Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund (RFIF), funded by our fishing licence fees, to improve recfishing in WA.
Marron is unique to WA and fishing for it is a hugely popular pastime in south-west WA with great potential to not just future-proof it, but open it up even more to the community, which is what this project aims to explore.
One of the program’s objectives is to assess the viability of introducing two million juvenile marron over a five-year period – imagine how good that would be for the 10,000 licensed marron fishers.
With the WA State Premier publicly throwing his weight behind this great project, it’s a big step toward the dream we share with the community to give recfishers and families the opportunity to go marroning every weekend and every school holiday.
There are also a bunch of other great projects announced as part of this RFIF round including a Salmon Spectacular fishing comp and festival this autumn Recfishwest is running, the Seeds for Snapper Cockburn Sound seagrass restoration project, along with the Carnarvon Artificial Reef.
It’s all stacking up for a really exciting 2020 – and we’re sure you like us can’t wait to see what the next 12 months hold. Rest assured, we will continue to throw ourselves into making more recfishing dreams for our community turn into reality – just watch this space!
Marron are endemic to southwest WA and fishing for them is a tradition for many WA families. They are great eating and the largest freshwater crayfish in Western Australia and as another year nears its end, this summer’s marron season is nearly here. Due to open from noon on the 8th of January to noon on the 5th February this season should see over 11,300 licensed fishers head off to the southwest waterways to target these freshwater crustaceans. Marron are targeted in some of the most accessible and beautiful areas of the southwest; fishers experience the fantastic bushland of the southwest first hand while fishing.
Marron can be caught using drop nets, scoop nets or snares all of which are relatively inexpensive. Fishers can choose to target marron in rivers with drop nets and scoops or in trophy water dams with snares. Trophy waters are specific areas that are managed differently to provide fishers with the opportunity to catch trophy sized marron. Harvey and Waroona Dams along with Hutt River are deemed trophy waters, with Harvey and Waroona Dams being snare only (meaning no nets or scoops). Snares are a challenging but often more rewarding method of chasing marron. This coupled with larger size limits and tighter bag restrictions creates fisheries where there is more chance of catching marron and larger sized ones too. These delicious crustaceans are an icon to many people in Western Australia and as such carefully managed by the Department of Fisheries.
It is worth having a good read of the Marron Recreational Fishing Guide to understand the specifics of marron fishing including fishing methods, what method is allowed in which area as well as the applicable bag limits.
Marron prefer cool, oxygenated water with low salinity and areas with fringing or overhanging vegetation and submerged or fallen trees for cover. The healthiest populations of Marron are in rivers that are mostly in their natural state; with healthy bushland throughout their catchments and with plenty of vegetation along their banks with little to no alteration to their natural flow regimes. Marron eat almost anything organic found in rivers or dams, including leaves, algae, and other small invertebrates and decaying matter. Marron respond well to chook pellets and there are considered the preferred bait for many fishers.
How to Catch
There are three methods to catch Marron; the relaxed set and forget of drop netting from the banks of a river or the more active patrolling of the water’s edge with a torch and a bushman’s pole, or scoop net along shallows. Many would consider drop netting as the most common method, partly because there is less work involved and many are looking for a relaxing evening. Drop nets are a very simple yet effective method that can only be used in certain waterways. These have holes in the base large enough for smaller undersize marron to escape (outlined in the recreational Marron guide). Setting drop nets along open sections of water away from logs and submerged trees is important as they can easily become caught up and stuck making them difficult to retrieve. Chook pellets in a sock secured to the middle of the drop net are great bait for marron in these nets. Bushman poles can be used in trophy areas unlike drop nets and scoops and are great fun as well as a good challenge. A bushman’s pole is any stick or pole with a self-tightening noose attached to the end of it; the user must not be able to open and close the loop like you can with a cray loop.
Making small piles of chook pellets around 30cm from the shore along the bank of the river or dam can draw in the marron in close. When searching for marron around your pellets, try aiming the torch to the side keeping the marron on the edge of the light, use just enough light to see the marron so you don’t spook them. While a marron is within reach of your snare, lower the loop down behind the marron. Once the loop is in position, shine the light directly on the marron to make it move back slowly. Lift the pole to then tighten the loop around the tail of the marron.
Marron are like prawns and crayfish; they can walk slowly in any direction and when frightened they will shoot backward with a pull of their tail. When searching along the banks ensure you only shine the light as far as you can reach with your snare. Shining the light onto marron will only spook them, making them less likely to come in close where you can reach them with your snare. Scoops are used in a similar way to snares but are not allowed in trophy waters. Many people wade through the shallows with scoops and head torches searching for marron, aiming to scoop the marron from behind as this is the direction they will usually retreat to using their tail.
Setting up a base camp around the area you intend to fish is ideal, doing this before dark helps you to be ready for your night time marron mission. Once set up, make sure you survey of the area for potential fishing spots. Collecting any rubbish during daylight will prevent you from stumbling onto them in the dark making the fishing experience safer, and benefiting the environment. Make sure you wear suitable footwear to protect your feet from sharp sticks or rocks along the banks. Consider other fishers by reducing music noise in later hours of the night, taking all your rubbish home with you and try not to take up a massive area of the bank as ‘yours’. Most of the time concentrating on a smaller area is more productive than trying to cover a huge area. Walking quietly and calmly along the water’s edge is important as it will prevent the marron from moving away to deeper water where they’re harder to catch.
*Please note, it is illegal to enter private property to access a river or creek without permission of the farmer/landholder.
Enjoying the Stunning Southwest
Many avid Marron fishers have areas or spots they revisit around the southwest in search for a great feed, with over 20,000 individual days of marroning estimated to have been undertaken in regional southwest areas each marron season. The Fisheries Department have also estimated that in 2015, a further 30,000 marron could be sustainably harvested on top of what has been recreationally caught, allowing new marron fishers to be part of a sustainable fishery and have a great chance of getting a feed. Many fishers have preferred spots that are not simply chosen for targeting marron, but instead for being a great camping location along a spectacular stretch of water. If you’ve never targeted marron before, it’s definately worth having go. Not only are they fun and rewarding to catch, but you will have a memorable experience exploring the state’s southwest amongst the bush and freshwater rivers and dams with your mates or family. All while targeting some of the tastiest crustaceans you’ll ever have on your plate.
Marron Stocking Programs
Marron are important to southwest waterways. To secure their abundance in southwest waterways the Pemberton Freshwater Research Centre has run marron breeding trials. Funded by the Commonwealth Government these trials aim at using stocking to help secure great populations of marron in the more popular waterways and accessible locations such as the Wellington and Harvey dams located only one and a half hours drive from Perth. Research and development into the marron stocking to focus on improving the resilience of the fishery, all while enhancing the experience of marroners. To find out more, visit I love Fishing – Marron Stocking.
Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) in conjunction with Recfishwest, will be investigating the benefits of stocking juvenile Marron into recreational dams in Western Australia.
Staff at the Pemberton Freshwater Research Centre (PFRC) have begun a new captured Marron breeding program. This program is based on recent advice provided from a Marron research project conducted by Ecotone and funded by the Commonwealth Government through the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) that looked at ways to improve the sustainability of WA’s iconic Marron fishery.
If the captured Marron breeding program is successful, a trial stocking program is planned which will see thousands of tiny “craylings” (juvenile Marron) released into Harvey Dam, a popular recreational Marron fishing location, only one and half hours South of Perth.
• Number of recreational Marron licenses 2016 season was 11,366.
• Wellington Dam and Harvey Dam are the most popular fishing locations.
• The estimated 20,000 individual days of marroning in regional locations provide a significant economic boost to regional towns in the South-West.
• In 2015 fishers caught an estimated 70,000 Marron despite research showing more than 100,000 Marron could have been sustainably harvested during this period.
• Research and development is focussed on improving the resilience of the fishery whilst enhancing the experience of the States many marroners.
Western Australia’s rugged Jarrah and Karri forests in the South-West will once again play host to the almost 11,000 fishers expected to take part in the much-loved Marron fishery in January. It is one of the most uniquely West Australian fisheries, offering the chance to catch a feed of tasty native crustaceans in a superb freshwater setting armed with nothing more than a bag of chook pellets, a pole snare or a drop net. The 2017 season for our native freshwater crayfish runs from noon on January 8 to noon on February 5. The short season reflects the challenges in managing this fishery, which continues to face less than optimal environmental conditions.
The waterways Marron inhabit have been impacted by habitat loss, diminishing water quality and falling rainfall in recent years. Recfishwest identified this issue some years ago, and have since been undertaking a project which will help shape future management of this fishery. The Future Proofing WA’s Iconic Marron Fishery project was funded by the Federal Government through the Fisheries Research Development Corporation and is a partnership between Ecotone Consulting, Department of Fisheries, Murdoch University and Recfishwest. To date, the project has revealed some fascinating insights into the drivers and aspirations of participants. Community surveys revealed many people view marroning as a great family activity and environmentally rich experience that they were prepared to travel a long way to undertake. For many Marron fishers the opportunity to socialise with family and friends is more important than actually catching anything.
Concerns raised about the fishery included the state of the environment, length of the season, level of compliance and lack of facilities at popular locations, with the next part of the project to look at how fishing amenity can be improved through stocking and habitat enhancement of Marron. Marron fishing locations vary from extremely remote to easily accessible depending on how adventurous you are willing or able to be. The natural bush environment in which it occurs makes marroning a great, fun summer activity and the good rains over the 2016 winter should mean the marron will have more water and habitat to move around in this season. This is great news for marroners, after major bushfires played havoc with access to many marron fisheries last summer.
Scooping, snaring and drop netting are all options for Marron fishers, enabling the participants to tailor their expedition to their preferences and ability. A licence is required but Marron fishing is affordable and extremely accessible throughout the South-West, with no need for expensive gear or a boat, and it is a safe and enjoyable pastime for families with the bonus of a great feed at the end of the day.
For the advanced marroner wanting a real challenge, there are fisheries which are snare-only and these include the Harvey River (upstream of the highway) and Harvey Dam, Big Brook Dam, Glen Mervyn Dam, Waroona Dam and Logue Brook Dam.
Trophy fisheries with different bag and size limits are the Harvey Dam, Waroona Dam and Hutt River.
A project which will help shape future management of the Marron fishery has revealed some fascinating insights into the drivers and aspirations of participants in this fishery. The project entitled ‘Future Proofing WA’s Iconic Marron Fishery’ was funded by the Federal Government through the FRDC and is a partnership between Ecotone Consulting, Department of Fisheries, Murdoch University and Recfishwest.
This project has just completed community surveys aimed at gaining a better understanding of what motivates people to go Marron fishing, the social value of the pastime, and what people want from this fishery. The surveys revealed that many people view marroning as a great family activity and environmentally rich experience that they are prepared to travel a long way to undertake. For many Marron fishers the opportunity to socialise with family and friends is more important than actually catching Marron.
Some of the concerns raised about the fishery included the state of the environment, the length of the season, the level of compliance and lack of facilities (toilets, rubbish disposal) at popular locations. The second part of the project will look at how fishing amenity can be improved through stocking and habitat enhancement of Marron.
The third part of this project will focus on developing a blueprint for the future management of Marron and will depend on the outcome of the first two parts of the project.
After the success of the recent Pink Snapper restocking in metro waters, along with the stocking activities of Mulloway, Prawns, Black Bream, Brown and Rainbow Trout and Barramundi, Marron just might be the next species we see stocked to boost the enjoyment of all marron fishers.
Recfishwest was horrified to learn that hundreds of WA’s most iconic freshwater crustacean, the mighty Marron, have been left for dead in the South Collie River due to mis-management of the state’s water resources.
Marron have been deprived of important environmental water flows resulting in them walking out of their river pools to gain oxygen, only to bake in the sun, leaving behind what has been described as a Marron graveyard. The Marron deaths follow revelations that river flows in the Collie River South Branch have been diverted into Lake Kepwari, a decommissioned mine void.
Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said seeing hundreds of dead Marron on the dry river bed is a disgrace especially as the Lake is full.
“How come there’s a full lake and an empty river?” Dr Rowland said.
“This is a man-made problem and we’re calling for swift and decisive action so that Marron and other wildlife in the remaining permanent pools within this 15km river section do not succumb to a similar fate as we progress into the warmer month.”
“We all understand our climate is variable, 2015 has been a dry year, and managing our water resources can be complex but the fact of the matter is that water for the environment must come first so that this type of disaster doesn’t happen again.”
Recfishwest will keep you updated on this important issue.