Fishing families flock to Denham for 2024 Shark Bay Fiesta!

For the 29th year running, the coastal town of Denham swelled in size for the hugely popular Shark Bay Fiesta that celebrates the fantastic fishing on offer in the Gascoyne region.  

Recfishwest joined the Denham community for the cornerstone event of its social calendar, which offers not just plenty of excitement, but also a vital boost to local businesses as scores of visitors from all corners of our state and country join in the festivities.  

What started in 1996 as a simple weekend fishing competition has since grown into a week-long extravaganza, brimming with top-notch fishing competitions for adults and kids, live music, bustling food stalls and, of course, incredible fish species turning up at the evening weigh-ins. 

Recfishwest Operations Officers Sam Russell and Levi De Boni ran our annual SunSmart fishing clinic to teach local and visiting kids how to catch, handle, and release various species, with some cracking catches being landed off the jetty in the centre of town.  

There is never a shortage of impressive catches off the local jetty in Denham during the Shark Bay Fiesta, with Recfishwest Operations Officers Sam Russell and Levi De Boni (pictured) helping kids catch and release loads of great species during our SunSmart fishing clinic!

“Around 30 kids had an awesome time releasing close to 100 fish of at least 10 different species. Some of the standout catches included legal-sized tuskfish, some black snapper and an impressive longtom,” said Levi.  

“This event is a standout in the Recfishwest fishing clinic calendar every year and it’s always one of the most energetic fishing clinics we run.”  

The Fiesta’s major fishing competition saw over 40 boats and 120 competitors making the most of the great fishing opportunities Shark Bay has to offer, with its sheltered waters producing fantastic catches of black snapper, pinkies and golden trevally to name a few.   

Numerous fishing teams aimed for renowned offshore fishing locations like Dirk Hartog Island and Steep Point, chasing some of the larger species the area is famed for such as Spanish mackerel, cobia, tuna, red emperor, Rankin cod and goldband snapper on the deeper reefs. 

A summary of the best results across the Shark Bay Fiesta! Some impressive catches included a 12.3kg red emperor and 98cm tailor!

“It was great to see the energy and enthusiasm that surrounded the event from people of all ages, from kids as young as four in the fishing clinic to retirees enjoying the high tea and fishing competition,” added Levi.  

“I’d like to give a big Recfishwest thanks to Jamie Burton, the Executive Officer and her team at the Shark Bay Community Resource Centre for their awesome job organising the event and the Denham community as a whole for their great hospitality and participation while we were in town. We’re looking forward to returning in 2025.”  

Check out more highlights from the 2024 Shark Bay Fiesta here!  

Families flock to Denham to celebrate fishing in the Gascoyne at Shark Bay Fiesta

The hundreds of visitors from across WA and Australia, who ventured to Denham for the week-long Shark Bay Fiesta to celebrate all things fishing swelled the population of the coastal town by half!  

For around 850 people who call Denham home, the annual Shark Bay Fiesta community event plays a big part in the community’s cultural life and social calendar, as well as bringing a welcome annual boost to local businesses.  

Since it started as a weekend fishing competition in 1996, the event has now blossomed into a week-long, program-packed community event with an array of social activities organised by local fundraising community groups.  

With impressive prizes up for grabs for the best catches, more than 119 competitors on 42 boats ventured into Shark Bay to experience the safe, sustainable, enjoyable and accessible fishing on offer, with many punching out wide to renowned fishing spots such as Dirk Hartog Island and Steep Point to chase Spanish mackerel, wahoo, yellowfin tuna, red emperor, goldband snapper, pearl perch and many others.  

Notable eyebrow-raising catches from the Fiesta, held between 19-26 May, included a 23.3kg Spanish mackerel, 7.54kg coral trout, 10.33kg red emperor and 92cm tailor.  

For a full summary of the 2023 Shark Bay Fiesta results, click here.  

This wahoo weighing over 20kg caught by Daryl Anesbury was just one of the spectacular fish landed during the week-long Shark Bay Fiesta competition, with 119 competitors on 42 boats bringing in great catches to the weigh-in each afternoon.

While the fishing action was non-stop, so was the Fiesta entertainment in Denham, with a huge range of family-friendly activities including live music, local business stalls, daily catch weigh-ins, quiz and bingo nights, workshops, auctions, fireworks and much more. 

Shark Bay Community Resource Centre Executive Officer Jamie Burton, who has helped coordinate the event for years, said the annual festivities never fail to create a great buzz around the town.  

“The Shark Bay Fiesta is easily the biggest community tourism boost each year in the region celebrating the importance of fishing in Shark Bay to the community while showcasing local businesses and the pristine waters of the area,” she said.  

“It’s high-class fishing to bingo, high teas, live music and fun competitions like a blindfolded pancake eating competition – there’s something for everyone of all ages.”  

Another welcome addition to this year’s Fiesta was the introduction of the ‘catch and return’ category in the fishing competition – where demersal species are caught and weighed in catch bags to reduce direct handling and potential damage to the fish, before they are safely released. Being able to safely catch and release these demersal species while still having the chance to take out impressive prizes prompted a lot of positive feedback,” added Jamie.

A lively awards ceremony reflected another successful year for the Fiesta.

A fun-packed Fiesta fishing clinic!

Recfishwest was also there to help teach the next generation of fishers how to catch, handle and release great species of fish in our SunSmart fishing clinic, with 38 kids from all around WA wetting a line for three hours and catching and releasing more than 100 fish including bluebone, black snapper, tarwhine and many other species.  

“This was one of the most productive and energetic fishing clinics that Recfishwest has coordinated as all 38 kids and their parents were kept busy catching a wide variety of impressive species off the local Denham jetties. One kid even managed to pull in a 1.8kg bluebone,” said Recfishwest Senior Operations Officer Sam Russell.  

“It was great to see visitors from inland regions experience the great coastal fishing on offer. We had several clinic attendees that had travelled from Alice Springs and they were blown away by the accessible and rewarding fishing on offer in Shark Bay. We’re sure they can’t wait to get back there and wet a line again. 

“A big thanks to Jamie Burton and the Denham community for having us and hosting another awesome Shark Bay Fiesta, we’re looking forward to coming back between 17-24 May in 2024.”  

Want to know more about the 2023 Shark Bay Fishing Fiesta? Check out their website here 

A big thanks to all 38 kids and their families who enjoyed wetting a line with Recfishwest during our three-hour long SunSmart fishing clinic off the jetties in Denham!