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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Trout management

Recreational anglers fish for rainbow and brown trout in rivers and other freshwater bodies in the south-west of Western Australia.

We manage recreational fishing for trout with minimum sizes, bag limits, seasonal closures and gear restrictions. Also, anglers aged 16 and above require a freshwater fishing licence to take trout. There is no commercial fishing for trout.

Both species of trout were introduced to Australia but display little or no breeding in local waters. In consultation with Recfishwest, we annually restock selected waterways with trout as part of a controlled program.

To protect pristine waters and native fish, waterways are divided into three categories to make sure stocking activities offer the appropriate level of ecosystem protection, while providing for sustainable recreational fishing.

The ‘open waters’ category is for waters that can be stocked. These waters, which have a history of being stocked since the early 1900s, have been identified as areas where introducing trout will have a lower impact on the existing ecosystem. 

Waters in the ‘closed waters’ category are not stocked as they have been identified as pristine or unique aquatic environments, or contain threatened or protected species vulnerable to trout stocking. The ‘restricted waters’ category is for waters that may include sections where trout stocking won’t be approved.

This carefully managed stocking program has created a sustainable, recreational freshwater fishery in WA’s south-west, funded by freshwater angling licence revenue.

Our trout fishery is based on young, fast-growing fish. Restocking is done with fry (very young trout), yearling (eight to 12 months old) and ex-broodstock trout produced at our Pemberton Freshwater Research Centre (PFRC). Most fry produced are stocked into public waterways to support recreational fishing. Some are sold to licensed aquaculture producers or for stocking private farm dams for recreational fishing and tourism. A smaller number are kept for future broodstock, yearling stocking and research.

In September 2017 the PFRC released over 600,000 rainbow trout fry and 20,000 brown trout fry into south-west rivers and dams. Earlier in the year, 35,500 yearling trout, including 6,500 browns, were freed into these waterways.

The numbers of fry released in 2017 will determine how many legal-sized trout are available to catch during the 2019/20 season. 

In 2014/15, recreational fishers caught more than 106,000 fish in fresh water in the State’s south-west, including more than 12,000 rainbow trout. Based on phone surveys, total fishing effort was estimated at 34,000 days. Catch and effort levels were similar to the previous season's.

Licence numbers have been increasing with more than 10,000 purchased in 2014/15. However, the estimated number of those who actually fished was about 5,600, a slight increase from the previous season. The average number of days fished per fisher was about six days.

For more information, please see the annual Status reports of the fisheries and aquatic resources of Western Australia

Last modified: 10/10/2017 5:22 PM

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