Fishability launches new Perth vessel to help people with disabilities enjoy the magic of fishing on the Swan River!

Recfishwest and Fisheries Minister Don Punch joined fishing charity Fishability at the Royal Perth Yacht Club on the Swan River to launch its fantastic, new 8.75m specially adapted boat to give people with disabilities the opportunity to experience fishing.  

The hull of the boat, named the Nev Thomas II, after Fishability founder Nev Thomas, has been funded through a $80,000 grant from the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund.  

Like its predecessor, the Nev Thomas, the spacious pontoon has special adaptations that allow up to eight people with disabilities and their carers to fish comfortably and safely for tailor, bream, flathead, whiting and many other species. 

In some additional great news for this important program, the Minister also announced a further $100,000 in RFIF funding for Fishability to assist with its operational costs over the next two years.

For more than 20 years, Fishability has provided recreational fishing opportunities for children and adults with disabilities and Recfishwest is a keen partner and advocate for the great work the charity does. 

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said, “Everyone should be able to enjoy the many benefits and great pleasure in wetting a line – including people with disabilities. Recfishwest is delighted to see the Nev Thomas II launched today with the support of the Minister and RFIF funding to help achieve this aspiration. 

“Not only will fishers with disabilities continue to be able to safely enjoy catching the great Metro species on offer here on the city’s doorstep – the original Nev Thomas has been relocated to Albany to help boost Fishability’s program in the Great Southern. 

“We also welcome today’s $100,000 RFIF funding announcement for Fishability over the next two years to help support these fantastic volunteer-run programs.”  

The $50,000 cost of the two 60 horsepower engines, fishing and safety gear and first aid equipment was funded through a Lotterywest grant, while the Royal Perth Yacht Club is kindly penning the vessel free of charge. 

Fishability Chairman Wayne Bowen said “Fishing is a treasured part of our wonderful WA lifestyle, and everyone should be able to enjoy it – including people with disabilities – and that’s exactly what this boat is going to do here in Perth and also indirectly for our Albany program too. 

“We’d like to thank the Royal Perth Yacht Club and all our fantastic partners, supporters and sponsors who help initiatives like this happen.” 

Fisheries Minister Don Punch, who is also the Minister for Disability Services said, “Supporting Fishability helps to enhance the quality of life of the participants and is so important in creating friendships and opportunities for the disability community in Western Australia. 

“It provides a platform to develop life skills and self-confidence and breaks down isolation through inclusive and quality recreational fishing experiences.” 

Want to make a booking with Fishability for yourself or someone you know? Click here! 

Fishing clinics program brings net benefits for socially at-risk young people

Young people who are doing it tough are enjoying the mental, well-being and physical net benefits fishing has to offer thanks to a partnership between “at risk” youth program Youth Futures and Recfishwest.  

Funded through our Community Grants Program – students from the Youth Futures Community School in Midland are being given the chance to enjoy fishing through Recfishwest’s SunSmart fishing clinics proudly supported by Healthway and Shimano Australia, which are being run on several locations on the Swan River.  

And the ‘Next Cast’ project is proving to be a huge success with the school’s students truly bitten by the fishing bug.  

“I’ve been inundated with questions from the students asking where and when the next fishing clinic is taking place because they had so much fun,” said Youth Futures Education Assistant Jonathan Higham.  

“We’ve been seeing first-hand the immediate and prolonged benefits that these fishing clinics have been having on our students. Engaging activities out in the fresh air close to nature such as fishing also helps boost the students’ engagement in class. They’ve told us they all really look forward to coming to school when the fishing clinics were coming up.” 

Youth Futures have reported the fishing clinics as a huge success for improving the mental and physical wellbeing of their students, with higher engagement in classes following the fishing trips.

Next Cast aims to give alternative learning opportunities to young people who are socially disconnected because of their circumstances and are at risk of falling through the cracks of the education system. 

Most importantly it gives them the opportunity to enjoy the social and physical benefits fishing provides, as well as promoting peer support and positive social interaction. 

“Different students had different levels of experience,” said Jonathan. “Some of them had never fished before while others were quite skilled and experienced. It resulted in the more experienced helping out the inexperienced, which adds to the social element of it all.” 

Recfishwest Fishing Clinics Coordinator Sedin Hasanovic, who has been running the clinics with fellow instructor, Kim Burton said, “Time and time again, we see young people come alive with a rod in their hand at these fishing clinics and the Youth Futures students are no exception. Fishing is such a highly engaging activity and as well as showing them how to fish, our clinics teach participants about fishing sustainably, looking after the environment and being SunSmart.  

“It’s been fantastic to see these young people from some tough backgrounds getting into fishing so much – hopefully it can give them some relief from some of the challenges they have to face and maybe sew the seeds for a lifelong passion for fishing just like we have.”  

Seven fishing clinics, for young people aged between 12-14 years, took place over the school’s first semester of 2023 at a number of locations in the Swan River, along with metro-based ocean marinas and jetties. 

Another 11 fishing clinics are planned for the second semester of 2023 for the schools’ 15-18-year-olds, with a view to making the Next Cast program a permanent fixture of Youth Futures.  

Based on the great feedback from their first seven fishing clinics in the first semester, Youth Futures have booked another 11 fishing clinics for their older students for the remainder of 2023, with hopes of making fishing trips a permanent social activity in future.

Granting wishes to great local projects  

Since the Community Grants program began in 2011, Recfishwest has proudly provided more than $500,000 in funding for more than 200 fishing clinics, equipment upgrades, safety training and numerous community-driven fishing projects thanks to funding through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund (RFIF) and supported by DPIRD.  

Find out more about our Community Grants Program here  

Perth’s ‘silver ghost’ busters on the city’s doorstep

With skyscrapers and buildings reflecting along the Swan River at the South Perth foreshore, the waterway in the heart of WA’s capital city has to be one of the most accessible mulloway locations in the country.

Fishing to the Max! Fishing guru Max Sampson proving big mulloway can be caught in the heart of Perth!

The river – hidden in plain sight – appears to be getting even better as a happy hunting ground for recfishers chasing prized “silver ghosts”.

Perth recfishers targeting the elusive Swan River mulloway have enjoyed something of a purple patch in recent months, with some anglers landing metre-plus-long monsters near the Narrows Bridge freeway crossing.

This season’s bumper mulloway run has delivered multiple fish-tipping the scales at more than 15kg.

Recent posts online on groups, such as Mulloway Hunterz, seems to have ended the long-running myth that catching big mulloway in the metropolitan rivers regularly is a rarity.

City croakers a reward for persistent hard-work

Well-known angler and Recfishwest Safety Ambassador Chris Dixon feels like he may be on track to “crack the code” for metro mulloway river fishing.

Chris – one half of Dixon Brothers Fishing – set social media ablaze in April when he posted a photo and video of him catching a huge 142cm mulloway from the Swan River.

The massive mulloway, which was released, capped off three nights of hard work fishing the Swan for a river croaker. Watch the video here.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would see a fish of this size in my life, let alone catch it from my capital city,” Chris told us.

“Once you’ve got the bite, there is no turning back. It certainly requires a lot of time and effort, but to catch a big mulloway with the city in the background at the Narrows or the Causeway really is pretty cool.

“I hope to get to a level where I crack the code and can find them consistently, because catching more around the metre mark is more of a reward than just catching one really big mulloway.”

Mad-keen fisher Max Sampson has also had a great time of it catching silver ghosts this season, sharing photos with Recfishwest of the big mulloway he has pulled from the Swan over the past few months.

“The excitement of catching a mulloway is unbeatable, they are a great fight and a real trophy fish,” Max said.

“Catching 1.5m mulloway within five minutes of the Bell Tower is amazing – I just love catching them.”

How to catch a ghost

For many years, rigged baits have been considered the go-to method for Perth’s recfishers chasing mulloway in the river systems.

Ghost buster! Chris Dixon caught this 142cm silver ghost in the Swan in April.

When fishing with bait in tidal rivers and estuaries a dropper rig and three-way swivel are recommended for those tidal flows.

Traditionally, the most popular fishing method for mulloway in the Swan has been fishing with baits, but more recently fishers are using minnow lures and soft plastics trolled or cast from boats to catch mulloway.

The best fishing times are at dusk and dawn especially with a rising tide. Mulloway, once caught, will typically make two runs and it is best to let them run on their first and bring them in on their second run. Be careful when handling the fish, taking care to always support the body.

You can find more information on catching mulloway on our ilovefishing website here

Mulloway catches at WA’s beaches on the west coast between Kalbarri and Lancelin have been fairly common for recfishers who know the gutters in which the fish are likely to be lurking at favourite spots such as S-Bend and flat rocks, which seem to produce decent mulloway on a regular basis.

Check these mulloway catches out from across WA:

The King and Kalgan rivers on the State’s south coast are also regular reporting good catches. However, in recent years, reports of monster mulloway catches from the metropolitan rivers had been on the decline.

With the recent great run of catches in the Swan, it is great to see many fishers choosing to release their fish allowing them to fight another day especially considering large mulloway taste great. Small ones do not make very good table fish hence their moniker “soapies,” and should be released.

Currently, the mulloway minimum legal-size limit is 50cm, however, mulloway do not start reproducing until they are between 80cm to 90cm which is why Recfishwest supports raising the minimum size limit for them.

For those lucky enough to catch a mulloway for dinner, extracting the mulloway’s jewels (otoliths) can provide a couple of striking trophies of your catch that make for a great conversation piece!

Check out how you can get your hand’s on a mulloway’s jewels here

One of the 20,000 mulloway that Recfishwest helped released in 2013.

Healthy river systems lead to heathy fish stocks

Recfishwest recognises mulloway’s value as a trophy species for WA’s recfishers.

We have supported projects to boost stocks of the prized fish, including a 2012 Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund project that saw 20,000 juvenile mulloway released, with 600 released in the Swan and 1,400 in Mandurah and the rest near Jurien.

By now these fish should be approaching the magical metre mark.

We believe stock enhancement projects like this can play a big part in future-proofing fish stocks and making the fishing experience better. Abundant fish stocks are more resilient to modern day pressures and are more likely to deliver a better fishing experience because fishing is better when fish are biting!


Fishing for mulloway is one of the great WA fishing experiences – if you’ve the skill to hook up to one the sheer power of a big mulloway run is the kind of gut-churning thrill that keeps many anglers coming back for more.

This experience is freely available on the city’s doorstep, and for those willing to put in the time and effort, the recent catches show just how valuable the Swan-Canning system is and Recfishwest will continue to make sure it stays that way.

Max Sampson loves fishing the Swan River and trying to land a big mulloway!

Better management of toxic algal blooms in Swan-Canning river systems needed

For Perth’s legions of crabbing enthusiasts, it is small consolation the Department of Health (DoH) has finally lifted their health advice around consuming fish, crabs and other shellfish from large parts of the Swan-Canning system almost two months since the toxic algae Alexandrium has been detected at levels that warrant a health alert.

For the last six months, many Perth fishers have effectively been hit with a fishing closure in large parts of the middle and lower Swan and Canning rivers due to high levels of the algae.

Starting in mid-December the DoH issued a series of alerts warning people not to eat fish, crabs and shellfish from large sections of first the Swan and then later the Canning as “ingestion of toxins produced by the microscopic algae Alexandrium could produce a type of poisoning known as paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP).”

Simply locking recfishers out of the fishery for months at a time isn’t a good enough management strategy.

While there are still a few crabs around, the prime months for targeting the Swan’s famously big blue swimmer crabs are unfortunately well and truly behind us. This is the second successive year elevated levels of Alexandrium have substantially disrupted summer crabbing activities in what is the metro’s favourite fishing playground – the “jewel in the city’s fishing crown” as WA angling journalist Scott Coghlan recently described it.

In both years, the strategy to manage these algal blooms can be summed up as “monitor algae levels and wait for late autumn rain to come to flush the algae out of the system.” While Recfishwest welcomes all the sampling that has occurred over the last six months, there is a pressing need for management to do more than simply wait for winter rain. Any resource management plan worth its salt must address the needs of its stakeholders – the river is something we should all be able to enjoy and it is simply not good enough that the recfishing community is not able to access a large section of the river during the peak fishing season.

A more proactive approach required

Recfishwest  wants to see a much more proactive approach to the management of the Swan-Canning system with a framework that doesn’t lock us out of the fishery for months at a time – particularly if these blooms are going to become more frequent thanks to environmental change and predicted lower river flows. An open review of the way the sampling results inform the issuing and removal of health warnings needs to take place and a much more defined and transparent set of management actions linked to agreed trigger points for algae levels needs to be developed.

Reopening Cockburn Sound to recreational crabbing

If large parts of the Swan and the Canning River become off limits for crabbing for significant periods of the year, fishers are going to need somewhere they can go and re-opening Cockburn Sound is an obvious option that should be progressed as a matter of priority. We have been told the process to buy-back commercial crab fishing licences in Cockburn Sound following management changes announced in November, is progressing, however, the impact Alexandrium is having on Swan River crabbers provides a compelling reason to fast-track this process.

Blue swimmer crabs are the number one species targeted by recfishers and the Swan-Canning system is one of the State’s most important rec fisheries. Giving recfishers access to crabbing in the Sound again would go some way to offset the loss of access to the Swan and Canning as a result of Alexandrium and would demonstrate a much better management approach than simply praying for rain.

Catching blue swimmer crabs like these provides our kids with a genuine sense of connection to the outstanding natural environment the Swan-Canning supports on their doorstep.
Black bream are just one of the many species recfishers flock to the Swan and Canning rivers to target.


UPDATE: Latest update on the Swan River algal bloom


Department of Health is reminding people that the warning associated with persisting toxic Alexandrium algal in the Swan and Canning Rivers remains in effect.

Fish, crabs or shellfish collected from within the following waterways should not be eaten due to the potential for unsafe levels of paralytic shellfish toxins:

  • Swan River – from Pelican Point, Crawley to the south of Perth Yacht Club, Applecross and upstream to Middle Swan (Reid Highway) Bridge. Middle Swan includes the commonly known areas of Como Jetty, Matilda Bay, Perth Waters, Elizabeth Quay, Barrack Street Jetty, Claisebrook Cove, Maylands Yacht Club, Ascot Waters, Hind Reserve, Riverside Gardens, Garvey Park, Sandy Beach Reserve, Point Reserve, Kings Meadow, Fish Market Reserve and Woodbridge Riverside Park.
  • Canning River – from the South of Perth Yacht Club and upstream to Kent Street Weir (this includes commonly known areas of Canning Bridge, Mt Henry Bridge, Salter Point, Shelley Bridge, Riverton Bridge, and Castledare).

For more information, click here.

NOTE: Despite Department of Health signs stating “NO FISHING”, there is no reason why you can’t continue to catch and release fish without any risk to your health in the affected areas.

More information on the algal bloom can be found in these FAQs

A map of the impacted area can be viewed below:

Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions continues to conduct weekly water quality monitoring at an increased number of sites to track the extent of the bloom.

Mussels, crabs and fish are also being tested for the Alexandrium toxin. DoH and local riverfront councils have arranged for health warning signs advising against eating shellfish, crabs and fish to be erected at key riverfront locations including jetties, boat ramps and key accessible foreshore areas within the affected region.

It should be noted that swimming and other aquatic recreational activities on the Swan and Canning rivers are not impacted by the algal bloom, but as a general rule swimming should be avoided in areas of discoloured water.

DBCA is conducting weekly water quality monitoring at an increased number of sites to track the extent of the bloom.

Swan River’s First Mussel Reef Trial

Great fishing experiences rely on plentiful fish stocks and healthy and productive aquatic ecosystems. This is especially true in estuarine environments, which act as nursery habitat for many key fishing species as well as a lifetime habitat for others.

Murdoch University have been working on a project to improve the recreational fishing experience in the Swan River Estuary by providing and restoring complex habitat and prey communities with funding from the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund.

The health and habitat of the Swan River Estuary System is extremely important for its inhabitants and the community who access it. A habitat that provides shelter for fish, as well as acting as an attractant for prey communities is what sets the scene for a healthy and self-reliant eco system. In turn, it can improve the overall health of the system which will in turn, improving recreational fishing experiences.

Part three (final stage):

VOLUNTEERS and FAMILIES NEEDED to help restore the Swan rivers mussel populations.

These mussels were once key prey of black bream. If we are to bring back the big bream we have to start here.

Did someone say free sausage sizzle? Yep! Come down this Saturday, to help Murdoch University researchers with a project to restore habitat and help bring back an abundance of black bream to the Swan River, as part of a project titled ‘Snag for a Snag.’ It’s a great day to come down and enjoy the beautiful swan river, lend a hand and even have a fish afterwards! Volunteers will help by preparing the banks of the river for the arrival of the Black Pygmy Mussel spat.

The newly hatched black pygmy mussels, called spat, attach themselves to the clean snags, increasing important prey communities for black bream, thereby improving the breams growth rate, body condition and therefore enhancing the recreational fishing experience.

WHEN: 10am Saturday 16th November

WHERE: Kings meadow Oval Guildford

WHAT TO BRING: sturdy footwear, boardshorts/bathers, waders.

Water, snacks and a BBQ will be provided.


Part two:

The second part of this project commenced on March 22nd with the deployment of a mussel reef, the first of its kind in the Swan River Estuary System. Not only will this reef increase the diversity of habitat around the flats in the estuary basin, thereby attracting fish through provision of greater food abundance and diversity as well as shelter, it will also improve the general health of the Swan River in that particular location. The mussels, filter feeders by nature, are already attached to these reefs and will immediately begin to consume plankton and non-living material from the water column, in turn improving light penetration and growing conditions for aquatic vegetation plants.

‘’Mussels can positively affect an ecosystem by its capacity to filter water and greatly improve the health of the water system in which they inhabitant.’’ Project coordinator Alan Cottingham says.

You can see the difference they make in a tank full of water here.

Local volunteers have been enthusiastically putting their hand up to engage in the project, assisting in the restoration and deployment components whilst raising awareness of the importance of environment quality for fish stocks. Check out the reef’s deployment video below all made possible with help from volunteers from the Marine Men’s Shed, Murdoch University Dive Club, Murdoch University students and other local volunteers. Reef locations are yet to be announced.

This trial project will explore the potential for scaling-up of such projects, providing valuable evidence to support future habitat enhancement and restoration projects in other estuaries.

You can read more about this exciting project by visiting the RFIF page – Swan River Habitat Restoration.

One of the mussel stakes forming part of the mussel reef
Local volunteers get in on the action to improve habitat for black pygmy mussels

Part one:

Earlier in the year, Murdoch began part one of the project by cleaning and re-snagging existing habitat in the upper Swan River to align with the expected mussel spawning cycle. The newly hatched black pygmy mussels, called spat, attach themselves to the clean snags, increasing important prey communities for black bream, thereby improving the breams growth rate, body condition and therefore enhancing the recreational fishing experience. A short video of this project can be viewed below.


Cockburn Sound pink snapper and blue swimmer crab changes now in effect

Remember the latest management changes, including seasonal closures, for both pink snapper and blue swimmer crabs in the West Coast Bioregion came into effect on September 1.

Both of these closures are critical in protecting spawning snapper and crabs, helping to secure the future of the fantastic fishing experiences both of these iconic recreational species offer in the metro area and South West.

To catch up on the latest pink snapper management changes click here.

To find out the about the blue swimmer crab management changes click here.

You can find a break-down on what these crab changes mean for your crabbing area here.