2017 Cray Crystal Ball

Imagine a world in which you could predict the future. You might place a bet on the winner of a future AFL premiership, or know exactly which day to go fishing next month. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Image: Puerulus Collector Credit: Matt Watson, Image source: scoopdigital.com.au

Unfortunately, we can’t predict AFL premiers using any science, but for one of WA’s most loved fishing targets, the Western Rock Lobster (or ‘crays’), decades of data has shown that science can predict abundances of crays up to four years in advance! And if that’s not exciting enough, the 2017/18 is predicted to be one of the best years in over a decade!

During Spring and Summer, each year cray larvae known as ‘puerulus’ are pushed inshore by wind and currents where they settle on nearshore reefs.

Research shows that these crays take four years to reach the legal length of 76mm. Fisheries researchers assess the abundance of puerulus across the new moon period each month by monitoring purpose built puerulus collectors at four locations along the West Coast and Abrolhos Islands.

A cray puerulus collector (pictured right), what looks like bottlebrushes or a mop is actually artificial seagrass. Late larval phase crays use the collectors for habitat and provide long-term population/breeding stock information for fishers and fisheries managers.

High settlement has always shown a strong correlation with catches of crays three and four years later and the 2013 settlement numbers (Figure 1 below) were some of the highest in recent times; in fact the highest since the early 2000’s.

 

Figure 1 Western Rock Lobster Puerulus Settlement (Juvenile Lobster Count) – Showing the 2017/18 season should be cracker due to a high Juvenile Count back in 2013 Source: Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development

What Does This All Mean for My Fishing?

Added to this excellent rate of juvenile settlement, is the fact that numbers of adult crays are also at an extremely high level, due mainly to neither the commercial or recreational fishing sectors catching their annual allocation in recent times – meaning more crays are being left in the water each year!

Reports from divers indicate that crays are already stacked up in fantastic numbers in nearshore reef platforms along the coast. These high abundances will make for excellent fishing experiences over this Summer.

If you are thinking of trying for crays for the first time, there has never been a better opportunity. There’s plenty of information available on our other website www.ilovefishing.com.au 

Image source: Bluewater Freedivers of WA

Divers should do well as soon as the season opens, but the potters will have to be patient as the traditional ‘whites’ run won’t kick off until late November. Once it cranks up though, the fishing will be superb, with many boats traditionally reporting catching their boat limit most days during this migration period.

Recent clarification of diving rules will make for a much more enjoyable fishing experience.  To see what’s changed, click here.

Good luck chasing crays this season, we would love to hear how you go and see a few pics and videos, so feel free to email us on recfish@recfishwest.org.au or jump on our Facebook page and join the discussion.

Stay tuned for our November Broad Cast edition where we’ll take a closer look at the ‘Whites Run’ plus give you some handy tips and tricks on the best way to cook your crays plus much more!

2016 Rock Lobster Season Set to be Another Bumper

As of October 15, the much-anticipated rock lobster season opens throughout Western Australia, with the iconic Western Rock Lobster being one of the prize catches in WA.
General consensus among lobster fishers was that the past season was another extremely productive one, highlighting just how well this fishery is managed and can only mean good things for the upcoming season.

Catch rates were not the only numbers breaking records last season, as the number of recreational rock lobster licence holders rose dramatically to over 52,000 licences.
In more good news, lobster fishers now have the option of removing lobster tails after they get their catch home. Previously, the law required lobsters to be kept and stored whole (with head and tail) unless they were being prepared for immediate consumption.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said lobster fishing is a uniquely Western Australia experience and we’re seeing more and more people getting involved, getting on the water and catching their own fresh seafood.

“Testament to how popular this activity is, it’s now common place to see scores of boats lined up at the boat ramp at dawn eager to get out before work for their slice of the action,” Dr Rowland said.

Recent juvenile lobster counts point towards a bumper season this year and if last season is anything to go by, we should see more people on the water having fun this summer catching this iconic WA species.

Learn all you need to know about fishing for lobster at: http://ilovefishing.com.au/2015/11/01/western-rock-lobster/

2016 Freshwater Season Open – Media Release

7 September 2016
MEDIA RELEASE

More Fish in the Water as Freshwater Season Kicks Off

The 2016 South West freshwater fishing season is looking to be one of the best on record, with healthy amounts of rain providing good stream flows to allow for an awesome fishing experience in this serene and tranquil part of the state.
Recfishwest’s Regional Policy Officer Matt Gillett said that the winter rains will provide support to record numbers of trout being released this year, bred from the highly successful Pemberton Trout Hatchery. This stock will be further supported in their growth by higher water levels and stream flows in recent months.

“In addition, it is predicted that the combination of healthy habitat and healthy brood stock (ex-breeding fish) should provide a flow on effect down the track for better quality fishing into the summer months”, Mr Gillett said.

To provide a more accessible and enjoyable fishing experience for the whole community, those under 16 years of age will no longer be required to hold a South West Freshwater Angling licence, meaning families can enjoy fishing in the South West, without having to worry about licences for the kids.

Recfishwest, through their Freshwater Fisheries Reference Group, offers advice to the Department of Fisheries on appropriate trout stocking locations. “This year key locations include the Warren River, Collie Gorge, Donnelly River, Blackwood River, Lefroy Brook and the Murray River” Mr Gillett said.

Over the past four years over 2.3 million trout fry have been released in the South West as well as approximately 100,000 Rainbow Trout yearlings and over 10,000 Rainbow and Brown trout ex brood stock, proving the value the community place on trout restocking. Fishers will also be able to target feral competitor species such as Redfin Perch without a bag limit as per usual and are urged to not return them to the water when caught but we recommend keeping Redfin as they are a prized table fish known for their tasty white flesh.

The South West Freshwater Season opens on 1 September 2016 and runs until 30 June 2017. For more on previous years stocking locations and numbers, visit http://ilovefishing.com.au/2016/03/21/freshwater-stocking/

Safety First This Salmon Season

March 2016

It is salmon season again in the South-West and the schools are on the move. Recfishwest is encouraging recreational fishers to fish from the beach for salmon, rather than rocks, wherever possible. Salmon move in large schools and often track very close to shore, they are usually within casting range of even the least experienced of beach anglers.

Catching a salmon from the beach is a world-class fishing experience and there are few things better than seeing a 4-6kg fish slide up onto the sand. Beach fishing is also a much better option for anyone wanting to catch and release some of these magnificent sportfish. Most importantly though, personal safety is not as much of an issue from the sand and there are countless locations suitable for beach fishing.

At the moment there are big numbers of salmon being caught from Esperance to Perth. There are many great beach fishing locations throughout the South-West. The south side and West End at Rottnest Island often hold fish, while Point Peron can produce salmon at times, as can the North Mole, with boat anglers doing well in Cockburn Sound and around Mewstones and Stragglers.  The Ammo Jetty has also been very popular this season with large amounts of salmon being caught, however it has also received a lot of negative publicity after pictures of salmon laying on the jetty were shown on social media. Fortunately this behaviour is not the norm and is changing with information being provided to fishers and volunteers on site. Recfishwest encourage all fishers to respect their catch, other fishers and the environment.  Around Mandurah, the White Hills to Preston stretch can offer great salmon fishing at times and offers fishers the chance to drive along the beach looking for passing schools. The sheltered bays around Dunsborough are famous for their salmon fishing as the schools pass through, with Bunker Bay and Rocky Point the most consistent locations. There will be plenty of fish between the Capes, and Hamelin Bay is one of the great salmon fishing spots for those with a 4WD.

Along the south coast, there are countless fine salmon fishing locations including the mouth of the Warren River, Windy Harbour, Parry’s Beach, Bornholm, Nanarup, Cheynes Beach and Foster’s Beach.  As salmon schools are constantly moving, patience is a virtue and you often need to wait for the fish to pass by. The great thing about salmon is they can be caught with just about any method, including bait, lure and fly.  Mulies are a top bait and easily fished on a set of ganged hooks on a weighted or unweighted rig, depending on location and conditions. If catching and releasing salmon it is recommended that fishers use single hooks on lures and single or snelled hooks with bait to maximise the salmon’s chance of survival. Any lure that does a good imitation of a mulie is a chance to catch fish, especially minnow lures.  Surface poppers, stickbaits and soft plastics also catch plenty of fish and the visual aspect of surface fishing is hard to beat for many anglers. Big metals are also an important part of the angler’s armoury, as they enable long casts to schools sitting well off the shore.

If keeping your fish Recfishwest encourages fishers to dispatch the fish quickly and thoroughly and put it on ice, clean your fishing area and put your rubbish in the bin.

If you would like to know more on salmon click here.

Hefty Penalties for Abalone Fishers

The hefty penalties for flouting fishing regulations were highlighted by a recent case involving illegal fishing for abalone in the South-West. WA boasts some of the best-managed fisheries in the world, but healthy fish stocks also rely on recreational fishers complying with bag, size and possession limits.

The vast majority of recreational fishers abide by the regulations in the interests of maintaining high-quality fisheries, but unfortunately not all do so.  Three Perth men were prosecuted in Busselton Court after being found in joint possession of 342 abalone, more than a third of which were undersize.

The three men were each fined $500 and also ordered to each pay a mandatory additional penalty of $8460 and to share court costs of $169.10.  Busselton Court heard the bag and possession limits for roe’s abalone in the Southern Zone were twenty per fisher per day and when Fisheries and Marine Officers inspected the trio’s catch, they found the men had 282 abalone in excess of the allowable number.

The men had been fishing for abalone at Bunker Bay and all pleaded guilty.
This prosecution was one of a number of offences detected through Operation Katla, conducted by Fisheries and Marine Officers since late last year to focus on abalone fishing in the Capes area.

The current fishing season for abalone in WA’s Southern Zone, from Busselton Jetty to the South Australian border, continues until 15 May.

Information on zones, rules and season times for abalone fishing in WA are outlined in the Recreational fishing for abalone guide, which is available online at www.fish.wa.gov.au.