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.

Fish for Free on Father’s Day Weekend!

Freshwater fishing provides a unique opportunity to get outdoors, take in the serenity, calmness and beautiful landscape of WA’s South-west streams, rivers and dams and provides great fun and accessible locations for families to experience the joy of freshwater fishing.

This year, with the help of Recfishwest and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) fishers have the opportunity to get out and about and try your hand at freshwater fishing without the need for a licence.

So if you’re stuck for ideas on what to get dad for Father’s Day, now may be the chance to buy him some freshwater fishing gear and give him the chance to take a break from the hussle and bussle of every day life while catching a prized fish!

Save the dates – 1st and 2nd September.

Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout, are all highly sought after freshwater species and can be found in our Southwest rivers, dams and lakes which are all stocked ready for you to try your luck over the licence free weekend! Redfin Perch are also readily available in most south-west waterways.

Our fantastic ‘How to catch’ article has all you need to know about catching Trout including details on locations, rules and regulations, catch care and cooking information.

As a starting point Harvey Dam, Waroona Dam, Logue Brook Dam, Big Brook Dam, Warren River and Donnelly River are all excellent places for freshwater fishing.

If you love it as much as we think you will and want to fish outside of the licence free weekend, a freshwater licence is available from the Department of Fisheries. The fishing season is open all year round.

Download the Recfishwest app to find out more about rainbow trout, brown trout and redfin perch.

Find a stocked river, dam and/or stream near you by clicking here.

Click here to see our Troutfest event at Draksbrook Weir on September 1 as part of the licence free weekend.

Families wanted for Freshwater Fishing Fun!

After the success of last years event, Recfishwest would like to invite you once again to be part of something special and help us release trout by hand and celebrate all things freshwater fishing.

Event details: Saturday 1st September 2018

Starts at 10am to 1:30pm

Drakesbrook Weir, Weir Rd Waroona 6215

What to bring: the whole family with an appetite for fun! You’re welcome to also bring your own rods, lures, sunscreen, hats, weather proof clothing and picnic sets.

The day will include:

  • Trout Stocking – help us release over 2000 trout into the dam by hand
  • Freshwater Fishing Tuition for all ages (30 rods provided) – Members of the Western Australian Trout and Freshwater Fishing Association will be on hand to teach you all about fishing in freshwater, along with our Recfishwest Fishing Clinic Instructors and NextWave Future Leaders Team Members
  • Fly Fishing Casting Demos – ever wanted to try your hand at fly casting? What better way to learn than from some of the WA’s top fly casters!
  • Freshwater Tackle and Rigging Information and Demonstrations – Learn all you need to know about tackle and rigging for freshwater fishing
  • Sausage sizzle and soft drinks hosted by the Waroona Lions Club

LICENCE FREE DAY Registrations FREE but essential.

Click here to register!

Relive the excitement from last years event!

 

FAQs

What are my transport/parking options for getting to and from the event?

There is parking available at the event, however it is limited. Its best to get there early to get a good spot.

Map.

What can I bring into the event?

You’re welcome to bring chairs, fishing rods, bait and lures. You should also bring weather proof clothing, a change of clothes and /gumboots reef shoes.

We will have rods, lures and bait available however it will be limited.

You may also like to bring along a canoe/kayak.

How can I contact the organiser with any questions?

We will have a Facebook page where you can ask any questions leading up to the event, alternatively you can email info@recfishwest.org.au or call the office on (08) 9246 3366 between 9 -5pm Monday – Friday.

Where else can I fish if this event is full?

Harvey Dam, Waroona, Logue Brook Dam, Big Brook Dam, Warren River and Donelly River are all excellent places for freshwater fishing if this event is full.

 

Want to know more about upcoming events? Visit our Events Calendar.

Improving the Recreational Marron Fishery Through Stock Enhancement

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.

FACT FILE:
• 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.

If you’re passionate about Marron, do yourself a favour and follow Marron Matters on Facebook.

Conservation Marron Stocking- Full Media Release

Picture: Marron eggs (left), once hatched they turn into ‘Craylings’ (middle & right)

TroutFest Sheds New Light on Freshwater Fishing

After the success of last years event, Recfishwest would like to invite you once again to be part of something special and help us release trout by hand and celebrate all things freshwater fishing.

Event details: Saturday 1st September 2018

Starts at 10am to 1:30pm

Drakesbrook Weir, Weir Rd Waroona 6215

What to bring: the whole family with an appetite for fun! You’re welcome to also bring your own rods, lures, sunscreen, hats, weather proof clothing and picnic sets.

 

The day will include:

  • Trout Stocking – help us release over 2000 trout into the dam by hand
  • Freshwater Fishing Tuition for all ages (30 rods provided) – Members of the Western Australian Trout and Freshwater Fishing Association will be on hand to teach you all about fishing in freshwater, along with our Recfishwest Fishing Clinic Instructors and NextWave Future Leaders Team Members
  • Fly Fishing Casting Demos – ever wanted to try your hand at fly casting? What better way to learn than from some of the WA’s top fly casters!
  • Freshwater Tackle and Rigging Information and Demonstrations – Learn all you need to know about tackle and rigging for freshwater fishing
  • Sausage sizzle and soft drinks hosted by the Waroona Lions Club

LICENCE FREE DAY Registrations FREE but essential.

Click to register! 

 

 

 


TroutFest 2017

Recfishwest’s first ever TroutFest was held on September 2, 2017. The event was a raging success, with thousands of Rainbow Trout being released into Drakesbrook Weir. The community came out in force as an estimated 500 people, comprising of mums, dads, kids, grandparents and fishing lovers, turned up to celebrate freshwater fishing. During the event there was a release of thousands of fingerlings, 400 yearlings and 70 ex-broodstock, these fish were a portion of the 600,000 fish that have been released this year by the Department of Primary Industries Regional Development, Fisheries Division.

Trout and about: Drakesbrook Weir played host to a Recfishwest public rainbow trout release. The aim is to stock the waterway with fish for recreational anglers.The event coincided with a statement from WA Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly removing the annual closed season of freshwater waterways.

Posted by ABC South West on Wednesday, 6 September 2017

TroutFest was a celebration of freshwater fishing and encouraged families and friends to head to a regularly stocked waterway and experience what freshwater fishing is all about. For many, this fishery was clouded in mystery, but after TroutFest participants realised it is about getting into the bush, having a cast and enjoying some of the best parts of WA.

As well as the fish release, the event also included Freshwater Fishing Tuition for all ages, an education display by Fisheries, Fly Casting, Freshwater Tackle & Rigging Information and Demonstrations and general fishing time for everyone to have a go at freshwater fishing, and for most, it was the very first time.

Recfishwest would like to thank the members of WATFAA for sharing their passion of fly fishing with people on the day as well all of the other volunteers that attended and made TroutFest a memorable experience for all those involved.

TroutFest promotes sustainable, accessible, enjoyable and safe fishing for the benefit of the community and will help encourage freshwater fishing in the South West.

TroutFest is just one of many Recfishwest lead initiatives working towards improving habitat and fish stocks which build better environments that support your fishing.

 

 

Crab Stocking Trial Project a WA First!

It is hard to find a better way to spend your summer afternoons than wading the estuary flats with a crab scoop in hand. In fact, crabbing for Blue Swimmer Crabs (Portunus armatus) is one of the most popular fishing activities in Western Australia.

Stocking of many of WA’s favourite finfish has occurred across the state with Pink Snapper, Black Bream, Barramundi and Mulloway all being stocked, yet there has been no stocking of crabs. Given their popularity and the importance of crabbing to WA culture, investigating possible stocking options for Blue Swimmer Crabs was identified as a way to enhance crabbing and crab stocks in WA.

Recently the Australian Centre for Applied Aquaculture Research (ACAAR) at South Metropolitan TAFE received a grant from the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund (RFIF) to identify future restocking options for Blue Swimmer Crabs. Since the culturing of Blue Swimmer Crabs from berried broodstock had never been done in WA, this project would first investigate if this process was feasible, and if successful, result in the first stocking of crabs in WA.

What happened?

Collecting the broodstock
• With assistance from Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) Division of Fisheries, a handful of wild berried broodstock were collected from the Peel Harvey Estuary and transported to ACAAR’s facility in Fremantle
• The berried females arrived full of eggs at an early stage of development when the eggs are still yellow (Figure 1). Conditions and temperature in the tank were then altered to assist the crabs developing their eggs to a later stage where the eggs turn a darker colour and are ready for spawning (Figure 2).

From hatching to release
• Once the eggs hatch, the earliest stages of a crab’s life cycle begins to be visible when viewed through a microscope. This first stage (below) of a crab’s journey is called a Zoea and resembles something more closely out of an Alien movie than of a crab. At this stage, the Zoea have limited ability to move to avoid predators and find food and are at the mercy of their environment. Hatchery conditions and food availability must be carefully managed during this vulnerable stage.

• Day by day the Zoea continue to grow and develop and after 12 days they make their next big transformation as part of their life cycle, metamorphosing into a Megalopa. At this stage they are starting to look much more similar to their parents having grown biting claws and gained the ability swim freely.

• After 19 days from hatching, the project reached an important milestone with the Megalopa undergoing their final metamorphose into a Crablet. This is a dangerous stage in the development of the crabs as the crablets quickly become highly cannibalistic and aggressive, apparently maximising the use of their newly grown claws.

• From the broodstock crabs that contributed to the spawning, the final stage of the projects saw the release of 3700 crablets into the Peel Harvey Estuary.

The success of this WA first project has opened the door to future potential restocking programs for crabs that could play a role in continuing to create great fishing experiences for the WA community forever. A second project, also funded through licence fees aims to release up to 100,000 crabs into Metropolitan waters and start to design a larger scale stocking program for WA.

This project was funded through the RFIF and supported by DPIRD, Division of Fisheries and Recfishwest.

Snapper Release, a Sound Success!

 

Round 2 of the Snapper Guardians program was another huge success, with plenty more fish going into the waters of Cockburn Sound. The community came out in force as an estimated 800 people, comprising of mums, dads, kids, grandparents and fishing lovers, turned up to release 3000 juvenile snapper, this was in addition to the 47,000 fish that were released two weeks prior to the Snapper Guardians fish release.

The release went smoothly with hundreds of families turning up to release fish. This event shows just how much the community cares and are willing to roll up their sleeves, show stewardship and to give back to the environment which supports their fishing.

Cockburn Sound’s Pink Snapper stocks are one of the most important fisheries in WA as these waters are home to the largest spawning aggregations of snapper on the West Coast. Fishing for Pink Snapper off the Perth coast is continually improving and we believe this fishery could be the best Pink Snapper fishery in Australia.

To date 100,000 Pink Snapper have been grown out and released through the Snapper Guardians program.

Snapper Guardians is just one of many Recfishwest led initiatives working towards improving habitat and fish stocks which build better environments, that support your fishing.

We look forward to next year’s Snapper Guardian Release event, which like this year has been made possible thanks to funding from the state government.

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.

 

Hot Tips for Prawning this Season

Swan River prawning is a resurging pastime following the restocking of  over 4.5 million prawns since 2013. This fishery has been given a new of lease of life after historic fishing activities, coupled with growing environmental pressures and impacts from urban development, left prawn populations on the brink.

Netting for Western School Prawns and King Prawns was historically a popular summer pastime in the Swan and Canning Rivers  throughout the 1950’s to 1980’s. It also formed the basis of a commercial fishery over this period. As time went on prawn numbers declined and significant catches have not been reported since the 1990’s.

Recfishwest continue to assist the Prawn Watch program, a citizen science projects where recreational fishers can aid in reporting prawn catches, whilst an exciting and important aquaculture stock enhancement project is underway to improve river prawn populations. The program is intending to couple restocking with research to improve understanding of the factors affecting wild prawn reproduction and bring families back to the water again.

On the back of this research and restocking efforts it seems a new door is opening to recreational fishers to once again enjoy the benefits of river prawning.   There is currently no licence required to fish for prawns, but there are regulations on gear restrictions and closures with regard to trawl netting, as well as areas closed permanently to prawning. The current bag limit of 9L/person is also under review and we’ll be involved in any decisions affecting either the sustainability of the stock or the community’s fishing experiences.

If you do find yourself tempted into a trip down to the water’s edge in search of a feed of prawns then there are a few practises that you should follow to ensure the continued improvement of river prawn populations, protection of the river system ecology and that the river can be enjoyed by all of the people that use it.

Prawning Code of Conduct

• Dealing with By-catch: Return all by-catch to the water quickly
One of the biggest problems with netting is the chance of by-catch as prawns often share their habitat with many other fish and invertebrates. It is important to know that you are not allowed to net for any other species with a prawn net and if these species are accidentally caught it is essential that you return all unwanted or unlawful by-catch to the water safely and quickly.
You should try and work out a method by which you can process your catch in the water and release the bycatch in a way that maximises their survival. This includes the often unwelcome blowfish and it is also noteworthy that any weed or other material that becomes caught in your net should not be left in a messy heap by the river banks and that rubbish is discarded of thoughtfully.

• Preserve Prawn and Fish Habitat: Stick to sandy bottoms where possible
We urge you in your prawning endeavours to show a sense of etiquette and to be careful around the habitats which you fish. One important tip is you don’t need to dig up the river bed to secure a catch of prawns. It’s important to note, a lot of prawn catches come when fishing sandy or muddy bottoms, so you shouldn’t need to walk through weed beds when you’re prawning.
When accessing the banks be sure to walk on marked paths or well-worn access points to the water to avoid damaging shoreline vegetation that has an important place in maintaining the entire marine ecosystem.

• Release Gravid (pregnant) Females: To ensure healthy stocks for the future
One of the most important recommendations to ensuring our populations of river prawns continue to grow is to inspect your catch of prawns for any gravid (pregnant) females, which will display a bright green egg mass around the head and down the middle of the back. Each gravid female may produce between 20,000 and 60,000 eggs, so releasing gravid females will ensure there are plenty of prawns next time you head down to the river.

Recfishwest is fully committed to helping maintain and improve the health of the Swan River ecosystem, in conjunction with the Department of Parks and Wildlife (formally known as the Swan River Trust), local governments, recreational fishers and river users.

Boost for Snapper Guardians in State Budget

Recfishwest is delighted with WA State Government’s budget commitment which will see $300,000 over the next 2 years towards the release of more Pink Snapper fingerlings into Cockburn Sound. People stood up and made a pledge to chip in towards a solution, and it’s great to see the government throw their support behind this initiative.

This contribution will allow on-ground activities to focus directly on maintaining and protecting healthy fish stocks to support better fishing. It will also provide opportunities for the community to get involved. Recfishwest is also in ongoing discussion with authorities to ensure rapid response protocols are established to safeguard the health this important waterway.

Recreational fishers are champions of sustainable fish stocks and healthy fish habitats, and we look forward to rolling up our sleeves and making the next release as successful as the first!