Recfishwest says “NO” to Offshore Wind Energy development in Geographe Bay’s critical fish habitat

Recfishwest has told the Commonwealth Government that important fish habitat and fishing grounds in Geographe Bay are strictly off limits for Offshore Wind Energy developments. 

In February, the Commonwealth Government released proposals for public comment on a massive 7,674 square kilometre area to be earmarked for potential offshore wind farm development off Geographe Bay, with its closest point only 20km from shore off Cape Naturaliste and Bunbury, and 36km from Busselton. 

Recfishwest Operations Manager Leyland Campbell said, “A significant proportion of this area contains critical fish habitat including seagrass meadows and large areas of coral and sponge gardens, which among other things support dhufish spawning aggregations, and includes popular fishing areas such as Naturaliste Reef and FAD grounds.

Developments within the Government’s proposed South-West Offshore Wind Energy zone could have major negative consequences on seagrass meadows, coral grounds and dhufish spawning aggregations that sit within the earmarked area. Photo courtesy of Save Our Beloved Geographe Bay Facebook page.

To inform our submission, Recfishwest surveyed hundreds of local fishers who identified more than 400 important fishing areas within the proposed determination area. As expected, more than 95 per cent of recreational fishing activity within the proposed area occurs in water depths of less than 200 metres (see heat map below).  

It is for these reasons that Recfishwest, on behalf of our cast of 700,000 fishers, has recommended the eastern boundary of the proposed area is moved west to beyond the 200-metre depth isobar. This would remove areas of critical habitat and important fishing grounds from consideration, therefore protecting fishing experiences. 

As seen in this heat map generated by hundreds of responses from recfishers in our online survey, the most important fishing spots to the South-West community sit directly within a large proportion of the Commonwealth Government’s proposed Offshore Wind Energy development zone.

Strong opposition  

In addition, Recfishwest has criticised large gaps in the proposals and Commonwealth OWE policy that we have consistently been raising for months that remain unaddressed, including a clear position on potential exclusion zones being implemented around offshore wind infrastructure. 

“Recfishwest will not support any offshore energy projects that impose access restrictions,” added Leyland. “As a matter of priority, offshore wind energy projects must provide clarity as to their impacts on fishing access and must avoid important habitats such as spawning areas, nursery grounds and popular fishing locations.” 

What Recfishwest told the Commonwealth Government

Recfishwest’s recommendation to move the eastern boundary of the proposed determination west to the 200-metre isobar will:  

  • Reduce conflict with fishers and important fishing areas; 
  • Avoid all documented key ecological features; 
  • Avoid impacts on corals, seagrass, seaweed and sponge gardens; 
  • Avoid known dhufish aggregation areas
  • Retain the area of greatest wind speed and consistency for offshore energy projects; and 
  • Is large enough to allow the development of an offshore wind industry that can deliver the Government’s desired 20GW of energy.

In addition, it is recommended the Government provides greater transparency about the known impacts of offshore wind industry and resolve inconsistencies in Government policy.    

Recfishwest encourages all fishers to make a submission. Submissions on the proposed area can be made until 3 May 2024 through the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) consultation hub , which also has more information on the proposal. 

Given the important fish habitat and crucial fishing grounds in Geographe Bay to the South-West community, Recfishwest stands firm that it is strictly off limits for Offshore Wind Energy developments.

A tale of two jetties

All too often, we see prized fishing jetties desperately needing TLC and restoration abandoned, left to rot or demolished as the red tape around who is responsible in managing and maintaining them puts them in the ‘too-hard’ basket for many local authorities.  

Huge credit then must be given to Dardanup Shire Council, who has stepped up to save a historic, popular fishing jetty on the south side of the Collie River.  

The Collie River southern fishing platform was attached to the old Collie River Bridge, which was built in 1962 and managed by the Shire of Harvey in co-operation with Main Roads WA. 

A new concrete and steel bridge was opened in April 2010, followed by construction of a new pedestrian boardwalk in 2011 linking the original jetty and fishing platform to the riverbank. 

The eastern end of the boardwalk connected the facility to the Shire of Dardanup, while the western end connected the facility to the City of Bunbury. 

Generations of fishing-mad mums, dads and kids have fished the north and south jetties, however, in recent times both have fallen into disrepair and have been closed off to the public. 

As a result, The Dardanup Shire council – located inland from Bunbury and Australind – recently voted to save, refurbish and take ownership of the southern jetty and go it alone to restore it to its former glory as a crabbing and fishing hotspot, after negotiations with Main Roads and neighboring councils, including the City of Bunbury and Shire of Harvey – were unsuccessful. 

Meanwhile, it is understood that plans are being considered to demolish the northern jetty (which is out of the Shire of Dardanup’s jurisdiction and control), which would send a wrecking ball through the hopes of local fishers to one day once again fish the currently closed dilapidated platform.  

Jurisdiction of jetty management and maintenance can be as clear as mud, so Recfishwest applauds the Shire of Dardanup for stepping up to the plate and taking ownership of the Old Collie River Bridge southern jetty.

Dardanup Shire President Mick Bennett said the jetty was a well-used community facility and ensuring safe access to waterways for recreational activities was part of the Council’s strategic plan. 

“The Collie River and its foreshore area in Eaton has special significance to residents of our shire as well as those in neighbouring areas,” Cr Bennett said. 

“The river also has cultural, spiritual and historic significance to local Aboriginal people – particularly the Wardandi, Pindjarup and Wilman people who used this land for hunting, fishing, camping and ceremony, and to visit and pay respect to their sacred sites. 

“For these reasons, Council felt compelled to ensure the jetty’s future and the ongoing enjoyment of its availability for all.” 

News of the southern jetty’s reprieve was welcomed by local fishers.  

Mitchell Cooper from Whitey’s Tackle in Australind said, “This is one of the most accessible spots along the whole waterfront of the Collie River and it’s a vital fishing platform for the area. It’s really the best spot for crabbing if you don’t have a boat and it’s great for young kids who want to go for tailor and crabs. To be honest, there is not much else here as far as decent jetties go.”  

Recfishwest applauds the Shire of Dardanup for standing up for local fishers and doing what needs to be done to save a much-loved community fishing landmark. 

“The pleasure and value these structures give as fishing platforms is simply priceless and every seaside town next to an estuary should have a jetty for local and visiting fishers,” said Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland. “Both these jetties clearly play a really important role in the social fabric of the local communities, providing families and friends with opportunities to get together and kids a healthy outdoor outlet all through fishing.  

“So we’re really pleased the Shire of Dardanup values fishing and what it gives to the community by cutting through the red tape and taking the initiative.  

“We hope that the jurisdictions and agencies responsible for the fishing platform on the northern riverbank show similar leadership and invest in its restoration and maintenance for future generations before it is lost forever.” 

Recfishwest will keep you updated across our social platforms on information related to the Collie Bridge jetties – stay tuned.  

For more information on the Shire of Dardanup website, click here.  

Hats off to the Shire of Dardanup for pushing to restore the southern jetty adjacent to the Old Collie Bridge (pictured above) back to its former glory as a fantastic land-based fishing spot for people of all abilities.

Salmon Slam phase two winners and salmon fishing tips for Easter!

With more salmon schools spotted moving into the South-West regions, the number of catches submitted into the Salmon Slam app are starting to increase!  

With a welcome long weekend approaching alongside Easter – it means a lot of fishers are getting excited and gearing up for salmon fishing trips to our pristine southern and South-West beaches.

Want to know where the salmon schools are headed off our coastline? The Salmon Tracker 2023 page on Facebook is now live and keeping tabs on where salmon schools are being spotted and fish are being landed, so make sure you give the page a like and follow to improve your odds! 

If you are fishing for salmon over Easter, remember no fish is worth risking your life for, so keep the sand between your toes and stay safe. You can watch our safe fishing tips in our brief safety video here.

Recfishwest’s Eligh Quigley also got in on the salmon action last weekend, with this salmon plucked from the surf near Cheynes!

With the second half of the 2023 Salmon Slam now underway with phase three kicking off from April 1-14, there is a Shimano Maikuro 9ft rod, surf shoulder bag and Western Angler pack up for grabs for the fisher who catches the four longest salmon overall, along with adult and junior random prizes and another $250 Halco Tackle pack for best photo – so get out there!  

Want to improve your odds at landing these plump beauties off the beach? We’ve compiled the best fishing gear tips from the salmon fishing experts on the link below! 

Click here for tips on the best rods, reels and lures to use for improving your odds of catching salmon throughout April! 

Phase two winners  

The fishing action during phase two of the 2023 Salmon Slam became so fiercely competitive that it resulted in a draw! 

Nathan Woods and Mitchell Daube both had fantastic salmon sessions on the south coast recently, with both talented anglers landing four salmon measuring 3,150mm exactly.  

With Nathan landing his four salmon first on the south coast, it meant he narrowly pipped Mitchell to the post with his four salmon landed around Yeagarup, winning the four longest salmon overall in phase two and a new Shimano Vanford 5000 Reel valued at $439! 

Great efforts to both of you and with phase three (April 1-14) and phase four (April 15 – May 1) of the Slam offering great prizes, we should see the numbers of catches only increase as we head into Easter!  

Best photo winner  

For fishers hoping to wet a line during the final two phases of the 2023 Salmon Slam, make sure that you have your camera quickly ready to go for taking a glory photo of your catch as there is a $250 Halco Tackle pack up for grabs containing ideal salmon lures for the best photo taken during both phases!  

It was hard for us to go past this great snap of 21-year-old Kaitlan Angi on the beach near Esperance for the best overall photo in phase two as it showcases everything there is to love about salmon fishing in WA – catching hard-fighting sportfish on stunning beaches. 

Kaitlan Angi took out the best photo and a $250 Halco Tackle pack for phase two with this cracking catch in Esperance via a baited mulie cast straight into a near-shore gutter!

“I caught this salmon on March 3rd by flicking a baited mulie into a deep gutter right off the beach in Esperance. It put up an incredible fight and it was so enjoyable catching something that big right off the beach,” said Kaitlan.  

Another reason why Kaitlan won best photo for phase two (hint hint) is this photo includes everything we prefer to see in a salmon photo – the fish is still alive and being held horizontally with no fingers in the gills, with a beaming smile and beautiful backdrop of our pristine coastline also visible!  

Junior random winner

The south coast has been boasting the most salmon catches so far – although with schools now spotted cruising past Hamelin Bay and Boranup this week, the South-West regions could soon arise as the best place to be in the coming weeks.  

Making the most of the recent red hot salmon action on the south coast was the Thorburn family, with sons Charlie, Patrick and Finn Thorburn pulling in some impressive fish off a beach close to Cheynes near the end of March.  

It just goes to show that if you are in the right place at the right time, the whole family can experience the thrill of landing salmon when schools venture in close to shore, especially excited youngsters.  

Father of three boys and avid fisher, Dean Thorburn, said it was one of the best fishing trips he has ever had with his family. 

“We loaded five rods in the car and Finn (13), Patrick (10) and Charlie (7) hit the beach and started casting metal slices into the waves. Even though the casting distance wasn’t huge, salmon were cruising the closer channels, meaning anyone was in with a chance,” said Dean. 

“Soon enough, Finn was on. We all raced over and encouraged him through the fight. His fishing rod buckled and drag was sizzling from the reel as the salmon used its strength in the waves for an epic contest.  

“Eventually, Finn pulled it up with the wash and we all shared in the amazing catch. A few quick photos and the salmon was released back into the wash. Finn was absolutely over the moon and his smile persisted for hours.  

“Switching to bait, Patrick’s rod then almost flew out of the holder as the salmon took multiple runs. He played the fish well, and sure enough he landed one of the biggest salmon captured over the weekend. We all agreed that his was one of our best days ever. Three proud happy boys, and a memory that will last a lifetime.”  

As a result of their great session, the three Thorburn brothers have $100 to spend on fishing gear thanks to the crew from Compleat Angler in Nedlands! 

How’s this for a family salmon fishing fiesta! Both Patrick (pictured left) and Finn Thorburn (right) got in on the red-hot salmon fishing on the south coast recently, landing these salmon in quick succession!

Adult random winner  

Another contestant who makes the most of the Salmon Slam each year is Beverley Tillman, who always makes an effort to go camping on the south coast with her husband in the hopes of finding large salmon schools.  

With salmon catches providing great fishing opportunities to kids, that excitement doesn’t go away even in adulthood, with Beverley enjoying some of the best fishing experiences of her life after creating more salmon fishing memories recently in Windy Harbour. 

“I think the Slam is a great idea, especially for getting kids into fishing and allowing them to experience the thrill of catching big fish with ease,” said Beverely. 

“On our annual camping trip to Windy Harbour, my hubby spotted a school passing by and flicked out a line before quickly hooking up to this salmon on a light Shimano 3-6kg Jewel rod and Shimano 4000 Stradic using a five-inch Zman Diezel Minnowz.”  

Congratulations to you and your husband Bev and we hope you both enjoy prowling for some new fishing gear courtesy of a $100 voucher from Anglers Fishing World in Fremantle!  

Beverley Tillman and her husband (pictured) made the most of their annual camping trip to Windy Harbour on the south coast, with a salmon school conveniently cruising past their location before giving their Shimano rod and reel combo a solid workout!

Well done to all our phase two winners and now that the salmon are starting to move into the South-West, make sure you don’t waste time and wet a line!  

Want to get involved with the second half of the 2023 Salmon Slam? Make sure you: 

  • Download the Salmon Slam app from the Apple Store or Google Play store, 
  • Upload a pic with your catch and the #SS2023 code written in the sand or on the brag mat and; 
  • Get stuck into the spicy salmon action for your chance to win! 

You can find all the info on the 2023 Salmon Slam along with the prizes up for grabs by clicking here!  

Inaugural Pemberton Trout festival makes big stocking splash with locals

With stunning weather and a spectacular forest backdrop, the inaugural edition of the Pemberton Trout Festival proved to be a great hit with the sizeable crowd that turned out for this new fish stocking event. 

Around 400 people made the picturesque journey to Big Brook Dam, just outside of Pemberton, to line up and hand-release hundreds of rainbow and brown trout into the crystal-clear waters of this fantastic South-West freshwater fishery.  

To top it off, every trout making a splash was at least yearling size, with dozens of parents and kids able to experience the thrill of holding the larger ex-broodstock specimens, some over 50cm in length, before gently caressing them into the water and watching them kick away to freedom.  

With a greater number of the larger fish being released, it means a higher survival rate and a better workout for anglers and their rods when these bigger trout grab lures, flies and baits.  

The stocking event proudly celebrated 50 years of Fisheries Department (DPIRD) management of the Pemberton Hatchery, which underpins WA’s ever popular South-West trout fishery.  

Along with Recfishwest, this new event was initiated and supported by local fishing clubs including the Australian Trout Foundation (ATF), Southern Forests Freshwater Angling Club (SFFAC) and Western Australian Trout and Freshwater Angling Association (WATFAA).  

The festival would also not have been possible without the tremendous support from DPIRD, the Pemberton Freshwater Research Centre, Daiwa, Healthway, Pemberton Visitor Centre, Shire of Manjimup and the Australian Trout Foundation Inc.  

There were plenty of larger ex-broodstock trout up for grabs for attendees to help hand-release at the festival! Here’s Recfishwest Communications Coordinator Jarrad Lawford helping a young tacker release a beautiful brown.

“It was a great sight to see dozens of families and kids getting hands on in releasing these fantastic fish. There couldn’t have been a more fitting way to celebrate the history of the hatchery and the fishery here in Pemberton – the ‘spiritual home’ of WA freshwater fishing,” said Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland.  

“The Pemberton-based trout hatchery run by DPIRD supports a fantastic program that brings thousands of anglers to chase these fish through South-West freshwater dams, rivers and streams. These anglers in turn inject more than $20 million annually into the regional economy and we believe there is huge potential to grow the fishery even further along with the social and economic benefits it brings to the region.”  

Every year, trout are released into various popular freshwater fishing dams and rivers such as Drakesbrook Weir, Harvey Dam, Waroona Dam, the Collie River and the Brunswick. 

With such a big turn-out for the successful event, it is hoped more fish stocking events like this can be run in the area in the future – watch this space! 

Recfishwest will continue to work closely with Government in creating more places for people to fish for freshwater species in safe, accessible and family-oriented fishing locations.  

Recfishwest’s Freshwater Fisheries Reference Group will continue to provide advice to DPIRD on where to distribute each year’s trout stocks bred at the hatchery.  

A big Recfishwest thanks to all our supporters who made this event possible, along with all attendees young and old who took part and helped release the fish quickly and in good condition.  

A unique experience in a picturesque place, hopefully the Pemberton Trout Festival will become an annual event!

Ensuring West Aussie fishers harness the potential fishing benefits of offshore wind energy projects

Recfishwest remains vigilant in ensuring recfishers are consulted with and have their say on plans to develop, construct and operate large-scale offshore wind energy (OWE) projects in WA, both in state and commonwealth waters.  

There are currently several OWE project proposals in the pipeline off our WA coast, with our South-West, Metro and Mid-West regions the likely locations. The wind turbines that would make up these projects could potentially become a defacto new network of artificial reefs – with similar structures in other parts of the world effectively creating new fish habitats and fishing opportunities.  

For this to happen, recfishers would need to be allowed access to the structures – but with no overarching regulatory framework in place for OWEs, there are concerns exclusion zones might be implemented around the structures, preventing fishing access.  

One of the proposed WA projects – The Leeuwin Offshore Windfarm – would have up to 200 wind turbines operating 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, for up to 50 years. The proposed windfarm would be situated around 15km off the coast between Preston Beach and Binningup. 

The planned Leeuwin Offshore Windfarm location (left) and an idea of what we could potentially see of our South-West coastline (right) Image: Copenhagen Energy.

Recfishwest acknowledges and supports the need for renewable energy production. In pursuit of The Western Australian Government’s aspirations for net zero emissions by 2050, offshore wind energy (OWE) is becoming an attractive proposition.  

Our south-west coastline boasts high wind speeds, favourable water depths, low risk of cyclones and good access to existing port infrastructure – all positive attributes for WA’s growing demand for green energy.    

Winds at sea reach a higher speed and are more constant than wind on land because there are no barriers. To harness this energy, the wind turbines are seated on giant towers installed on the seabed in depths of up to 60 metres or on floating structures anchored to the bottom in deeper waters. 

While it has been proven overseas that recreational fishing can be largely compatible with offshore wind energy projects, it must be a recognised factor and key value when planning, designing, constructing and operating any offshore wind farm projects off the WA coastline.   

Recfishwest will only support OWE projects that improve recreational fishing experiences with no net loss of amenity. As a matter of priority, the decision-makers behind these OWE projects must provide clarity around maintaining fishing access and ensure recreational fishers are consulted in the planning and construction processes. 

From a fishing perspective, OWE projects can act as artificial reefs, potentially enhancing marine abundance in the area through the provision of increased habitat and structure availability.  

Over time, windfarm pylons can potentially lead to an improvement in marine abundance due to the structures acting as artificial reefs, although their construction can cause other issues. Image: Copenhagen Energy.

However, these projects also have the potential to adversely impact environmental and social values through habitat damage and implementation of exclusion zones, along with displacement and concentrations of commercial fishing efforts.  

West Aussie recfishers deserve to be able to fish these structures, without the construction potentially having negative impacts on the fishing spots they already cherish.   

“It is crucially important that any OWE projects should avoid important habitats such as spawning areas and nursery areas, as well as popular fishing locations,” said Recfishwest Operations Lead Matt Gillett.   

“While the possibility of having potentially hundreds of turbine structures in our waters acting as artificial reefs sounds great to keen fishers, this benefit is pointless if we don’t have close accessibility to fish them. We’ve seen this respect given to recfishers overseas and this is what we want locked in if these projects are to proceed.”  

Before development and planning is confirmed, Recfishwest will consult frequently with recreational and professional fishing groups to ensure boating and fishing activities are not negatively impacted.    

To find out more about Recfishwest’s stance on OWE, please click here 

Troutfest 2022 – Our recap of all the thrills and spills!

With beautiful weather conditions and a buzzing crowd of more than 250 people, the sixth edition of Troutfest proved why it is one of the most enjoyable family-friendly events in our picturesque South-West.  

The annual community event saw dozens of excited families lining up to hand-release around 350 rainbow trout and brown trout into the much-loved freshwater gem of Drakesbrook Weir.  

While this year saw hundreds of smaller fingerlings and yearlings released once again by people of all ages, the larger splashes were a lot louder than previous Troutfest events, with more numbers of larger ex-broodstock trout – some upwards of 50cm in length – diving into their new Drakesbrook home.  

Fancy fishing for rainbow or brown trout? Check out all the stocking locations this season!

People of all ages got involved releasing trout of all ages!

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland, Murray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke, Mr Robert Jetta and the Shire of Waroona President Mike Walmsley all rolled up their sleeves to help out during the event, made possible by the Shire of Waroona, Alcoa and DPIRD’s freshwater hatchery in Pemberton.  

The Western Australian Trout and Freshwater Angling Association (WATFAA), the Australian Trout Foundation (ATF) and Southern Forests Freshwater Angling Club (SFFAC) also returned to help teach the next generation of freshwater fishers, with free fly-casting and fly-tying tuitions.  

It was encouraging to see so many youngsters learning the life skills of fly fishing while trying their luck at landing a trout, with many experiencing the adrenaline rush of catching yearling and ex-broodstock trout on flies, lures and even corn kernels!  

There are plenty of ways to get involved at Troutfest, from releasing trout to trying your luck at catching them!

“When you see the enjoyment on not just the kids’ faces, but also the adults getting involved in hand-releasing this iconic species, it’s easy to see why this event is so symbolic to so many people and freshwater fishing in our South-West,” said Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland.  

“Troutfest is now an eagerly anticipated and adored event by keen fishing families. It is highly valued by the WA recfishing and regional communities and there is no better way to celebrate the fantastic freshwater fishery in the State’s south.”  

Troutfest is part of a carefully managed South-West trout stocking program, funded with assistance from recreational fishing licence fees through the RFIF to help improve the experiences of around 10,000 freshwater fishing licence holders who enjoy chasing trout from Pemberton to Waroona.  

Hundreds of larger yearling and ex-broodstock trout made a splash this year, more than any previous Troutfest event!

All 800 trout released into Drakesbrook Weir this year through the program were hatched and reared at DPIRD’s hatchery in Pemberton, which helps distribute hundreds of thousands of trout throughout our State’s fresh waterways each year.  

Recfishwest, through its Freshwater Fisheries reference Group, offers advice to DPIRD on where to stock each year’s stock of bred trout throughout the South-West.  

“A big thank you to the Shire of Waroona, Alcoa, Daiwa and our other event supporters for helping bring this great day to the community, and also DPIRD for their tremendous ongoing supply of rainbow and brown trout from their Pemberton hatchery,” added Andrew.  

Missed out on Troutfest? Don’t worry, for the first time, a second community trout stocking event will occur on November 6 at the Big Brook Dam Foreshore & Picnic Area to celebrate 50 years of Fisheries Department Management of the Pemberton Hatchery! 

Find out more about this upcoming event below! 

Fisheries Minister fixes DPIRD’s Harvey Dam marron stocking blocking with 100,000 juveniles to be released

After a long three-year stocking hiatus, Harvey Dam is finally set to see 100,000 marron make a splash into its waterways in 2023. 

The announcement by the Fisheries Minister Don Punch fixes a decision by DPIRD to prevent marron being stocked into Harvey Dam as part of a stocking program funded by the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund and launched by the Premier Mark McGowan at the dam in 2019.  

Read the full media release from the Fisheries Minister here.  

Harvey Dam is the most popular recreational marroning location in our South West and provides an ideal habitat for marron spawning and growth.

Over the last few years, the team from Aquafarms, supported by Recfishwest, helped release 300,000 marron into the popular Waroona and Logue Brook dams.  

Large numbers of marron were also supposed to be released into Harvey Dam last year as part of this project, but one month before stocking DPIRD advised Recfishwest that, approval to stock Harvey Dam would not be provided.  

DPIRD’s rationale for refusing permission to stock Harvey Dam was largely based on two-decade old research. However, this rationale did not extend to Logue Brook or Waroona Dams, leaving local marron fishers confused and disappointed that the premier marroning location of a recreational-only fishery was missing out, despite assurances it would be a focus of the stocking project.  

Recfishwest raised our concerns directly with the Fisheries Minister and is pleased that he cut through the red tape put in place by DPIRD to ensure marron would be stocked in WA’s premier marooning location as intended.

This photo, taken in December 2019, was the last time marron were stocked into Harvey Dam, shortly after Premier Mark McGowan announced the RFIF-funded marron stocking program.

A sensible outcome  

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said, “We thank the Minister for listening to Recfishwest and overcoming needless Government bureaucracy to right this wrong – it’s a sensible resolution that ensures a good outcome for the community.  

“By working with the Minister and DPIRD, we hope to achieve a similar sensible resolution for the west coast demersal fishery and avoid the extensive social and economic damage the Government’s initial proposal for a nine-month ban would cause. 

“Marron is an icon of the South-West and marroning is a hugely popular pastime, with Harvey Dam the most popular marroning location.  

“The marron season brings in thousands of freshwater fishers from around the state to the pristine South-West waterways, helping inject millions of dollars back into our regional tourism economies.  

“Stocking initiatives like this can future-proof the marron fishery and take us closer to our vision of year-round marroning.” 

Breeding from the marron captured at Harvey Dam has already begun, with restocking expected to start as early as June next year.

Check out our marron fishing tips on our ilovefishing website

Marroning in Harvey Dam is hugely popular, especially when larger catches like these are made possible thanks to the dam’s ideal conditions.

Chasing the mighty marron with a freshwater fishing expert

For Recfishwest Operations Officer Sam Russell, the month-long marron fishing season is the best time of the year!

The self-confessed “marron maniac” is one of the State’s 10,000 marron licence holders who loves chasing the iconic freshwater species endemic to our South West from noon on 8 January to ​noon on 5 February, inclusive, each year.

Here’s Sam’s marvelous marron tips!

Recfishwest’s Sam Russell is a self-confessed “marron madman” and has an affinity for the iconic South West freshwater crustacean.

Recfishwest: What got you into marron fishing, Sam?

SR: I’m a Collie boy at heart, having grown up there, and marroning is definitely a popular pastime for a large part of the community. One of my first fishing experiences was catching marron in a neighbour’s dam when I was younger, and it’s something I’ll never forget.

RFW: What do you enjoy most about the South West’s freshwater marron fishery?

SR: For me, the scenery plays a big part in why I love it. Chasing marron in the South West’s pristine bushlands is an incredibly enjoyable fishing experience. The challenge of catching a marron with a snare also adds to the theatre. And, not to mention, that they taste pretty great as well!

RFW: What are your favorite spots to go for marron?

SR: I like to fish a wide variety of locations for marron. Most of the South West rivers and dams will hold marron, so it really does pay off to do a bit of exploring and try out different spots. If you’re new to marron fishing, dams are a really great place to start.

Locations like Harvey Dam, Waroona Dam and Logue Brook offer safe, accessible marron fishing opportunities for fishers of all skill levels.

In 2019, Premier Mark McGowan and Recfishwest launched a three-year stocking program in 2019 which will have seen 300,000 marron released into Peel and South West freshwater waterways by the end of this year, which is very exciting for the fishery!

RFW: For fishers new to marroning, what gear do they need?

SR: A snare, or a “bushman’s pole” depending on who you’re talking to, is the most enjoyable way to catch a feed of marron.

All you need is your snare, a quality head torch, a hessian bag to keep your catch in and some chook pellets.

Head to your target location, preferably at night because this is when marron are generally most active, and place a couple of handfuls of chook pellets close to the bank about 10m to 15m apart.

Wait half an hour and then check your baits for marron. If you see a marron on your bait, carefully loop the snare under the tail of the marron from behind, then pull up quickly when your snare reaches about where the carapace meets the tail. It is hard and does take some practice!

Try to only shine your torch as far ahead of you as you can reach with your snare. Also, remain as stealth as you can because marron are fast and will quickly slip back underneath the cloak of darkness if you’re not quiet.

You can also fish for marron with scoops and drop nets, although there are quite a few rules regarding where you can use each capture method as well as specified gear dimensions. I recommend heading to the Department of Industries and Regional Development’s fisheries website and familiarising yourself with the rules before heading out.

Attempting to snare a marron or two at places such as Harvey Dam is great fun.

RFW: How’d you like cooking your marron?

SR: I love to cook marron on the barbecue. Simply cut the marron in half from the head to the tail, wash away the guts in the head and place the marron shell side down on medium heat. Scoop some butter, garlic and salt into the empty head cavity then baste this over the tail while it cooks. Cook until the meat goes white and firm then enjoy!

RFW: What fishing advice do you have for people chasing marron for the first time this season?

SR: Just get out there, have a crack, catching marron really isn’t that hard and is a fantastic way to spend an evening with family and friends. There are countless rivers and impoundments in the South West and Peel regions that hold marron. If you do your research, are willing to learn and explore some different spots, you’ll have a feed of marron in no time.

Tim Grose, of Recfishwest, with a cracking South West marron!