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NEWSCAST - Recreational Fisheries News January 2023

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New artificial reefs for Ballina and Coffs Harbour!

While DPI Fisheries is making final preparations before the Forster and Terrigal offshore artificial reefs are deployed later this year, the Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders, has announced new reefs for Ballina and Coffs Harbour for completion in 2024. Once deployed and established we expect to see an abundance of fish from Mackerel, Kingfish, Mulloway and Snapper within a few short years.

DPI will now undertake further detailed assessments to determine the most suitable locations off Coffs and Ballina for the reefs to be placed.

To keep up to date with the latest info and to have your say on new locations visit the website.

This is another great example of your fishing licence fees at work!

REMINDER - North Coast crab trap swap days

DPI will be holding pop-up exchange days in Coffs Harbour where fishers can exchange their witches hat or collapsible rectangular style traps for a new round crab trap or lift net (limited to one exchange per person).

The pop-up exchange program aims to encourage local fishers to move away from traditional witches hat nets by providing an environmentally friendly crab trap alternative. DPI staff will recycle the surrendered witches hat nets as far as possible. Witches-hats are made of very thin, entanglement mesh, which is inverted when set and can result in the incidental entanglement and drowning of turtles and other non-target species. Additionally, because of the lightweight nature of the steel ring in witches-hat nets, they can often move location during tidal movements and be lost to the fisher. This lost gear then continues to ghostfish.  

The scheduled days are Saturday 28 January and Sunday 5 February 2023 at 8 Collison Pl, North Boambee Valley. 

All attendees on the day are required to register via Eventbrite. Check out the links below.
Saturday 28th January 2023  - bit.ly/3WkWhOw
Saturday 5th February 2023 - bit.ly/3kExPd6

These crab gear exchange days are run with the assistance of Fishcare Volunteers and supported with funds from the Marine Estate Management Strategy.


Come catch some fishing tips at DPI's Inland Fish For Life Flood Recovery Days - THIS SUNDAY 29 January!

Keen fishos in the Lake Keepit and Forbes areas, are encouraged to mark your calendars as the ‘Fish For Life – Flood Recovery Day’ will be held at Lake Keepit and Lions Park Forbes, Sunday 29 January.

Come join in the FREE community fun day out, spending time with family and friends, enjoying the best that fishing has to offer. Fisheries staff and Fishcare volunteers will be on hand to teach the finer points of fishing, such as:

🔹 Casting, 
🔹 Rod rigging, 
🔹 Rules and regulations; and, 
🔹 Bait tips. 

Take advantage of this great opportunity to learn the basics of fishing, get some expert tips from our Fishcare Volunteers and try your hand at casting a line and catching a fish. We provide all the equipment and bait on the day.

With lots of other activities on the day, make sure you don’t miss out on a great FREE day outdoors with the family!

Event details are:
Forbes 🎣 - Lions Park, Forbes, 9am to 2pm, Sunday 29th January 2023
Lake Keepit 🎣 - 234 Keepit Dam Road, Lake Keepit, 10am – 2pm, Sunday 29th January 2023

This is all part of ‘Fish for life – Building a healthy fishing future’.  


Fish stocking update 

It’s been another brilliant year for fish stocking from NSW DPI’s Departmental fish hatcheries.

Narrandera Fisheries Centre has so far stocked over 1.15 million Murray Cod with two ponds left to harvest. Highlights include 90,000 to each of Blowering, Burrinjuck and Copeton Dams, 112,000 to Burrendong Dam and a whopping 136,000 to Wyangala Dam! Murray Cod stocking will conclude next week with the team set to move into Golden and Silver Perch stocking from mid-February until late April. 

Gaden and Dutton Trout Hatcheries have also been busy with almost 3 million Brown and Rainbow Trout stocked across the state. These have included some ex-broodstock getting towards 10kg that can only be described as truly impressive!

Yarrawonga Weir fish relocation

During a recent patrol of the Yarrawonga Weir fishing closure, a group of passionate young recreational fishers alerted Fisheries Officers to some stranded fish. This vital information was also reported to local Fisheries Officers by the owner of the local tackle store.  

As a result of this vital information, a large number of native fish were successfully saved from an isolated pool of water below the Northern gates of the Yarrawonga Weir. Many thanks to Goulburn-Murray Water, DPI Fisheries Compliance and Research teams for quickly acting to relocate the stranded fish. 

Our Research staff deployed an electrofishing boat and successfully moved 92 native fish including Murray Cod, Golden Perch, Trout Cod and Silver Perch, into the Murray River below Yarrawonga Weir. Six of the relocated Murray Cod measured over one-metre in length.  

Fisheries Officers regularly patrol the fishing closure below Yarrawonga Weir. The fishing closure extends 150 m downstream from the weir face on the New South Wales bank and 130 m downstream on the Victorian bank. A line extends directly across the Murray River between the two downstream points. Recreational fishers are reminded that heavy penalties apply for fishing in the closure. 

The community is encouraged to report any fish kills or illegal fishing to the Fishers Watch Phoneline on 1800 043 536 or via the online form - https://fal.cn/3gJWh.
Going rock fishing? 

Summer is in full swing and here is a quick reminder on some safety to help keep you safe when planning your fishing trip:

  • Always wear a lifejacket.
    • Wear an appropriate lifejacket that is best for you.
    • Wear appropriate footwear.
    • Always wear lightweight clothing. Together with your lifejacket, lightweight clothing will weigh you down less.
  • Always tell someone who is not going fishing with you where you plan to go.
  • Always check the weather, severe weather warnings, coastal waters forecast and tide predictions before you leave home and watch them while you're out fishing.
    • Do not rock fish when conditions are dangerous.
    • Spend at least 30 mins watching the wind and wave action before choosing a safe location.
  • Ask local people and experienced anglers (rod and line fishers) about the safest areas to fish.
  • Stay alert to the weather conditions.
  • If you are fishing in an exposed area during rough seas, find a calmer spot.
  • Never turn your back on the ocean.
  • Plan an escape route in case you get washed into the water.
  • If someone is washed into the ocean, DO NOT jump into the water after anyone.
  • Look for an Angel Ring, a lifebuoy or something else that floats and throw it to the person in the water to hold onto.
  • Dial 000 (Triple zero) on your mobile phone or go and get help.
  • Never fish alone.
  • Always make sure you are wearing the right safety gear when you go rock fishing.

Billfish handling tips

With warm nutrient rich water pushing down along the East Coast, offshore anglers are experiencing an incredible run of billfish. On the inshore grounds anglers have had the opportunity to target juvenile black marlin, while offshore there has been a consistent bite of both striped marlin and blue marlin. With this in mind it is a perfect time to remind anglers about correct handling techniques to ensure maximum survivability if you choose to release your prized catch.
  • Before heading out ensure you are using the correct gear for the fish you intend to target. Lowering the fight time is integral to fish survival.
  • When using live or dead baits use non-offset circle hooks. These circle hooks are designed to minimize deep hooking, foul hooking and bleeding.
  • Once the angler brings the fish within range, the fish should be traced and led alongside the boat. If you are inexperienced avoid wrapping the leader around your hands to avoid entanglement risk. Do not attempt to try and grab the fish until it is calm. If you grab a lively fish you risk injury to both the fish and the crew.
  • Hold the fish by the bill and keep its head below the water line. Always grip the bill with the palm of your hand facing away from the body (pushing or push up position), if the marlin decides to kick you have maximum strength to handle the fish. Have the boat idling forward to ensure a steady flow of water over the fish’s gills. Avoid placing hands anywhere near the gills or gill plate.
  • Always handle the fish with wet gloves. Many species of fish, including billfish have a protective layer of slime that protects them from bacteria and parasites.
  • Avoid removing the fish from the water. This causes unnecessary stress on the fish and increases the risk of injury.
  • If you are intending to tag the fish, the tag should be placed towards the middle of the fish, well above the lateral line towards the dorsal fin.
  • If possible (and safe to do so) remove the hook or cut the trace as close to the hook as possible. This is a perfect opportunity to take some photos with the fish subdued boat side.
  • To ensure a healthy release, hold the fish boat side or use a snooter (a specialist tool which has a loop that can be tightened) around the bill. Idle the boat forward at 2-3 knots. Once the fish displays strong signs of recovery such as improved coloration, increased energy or biting down on the hand, get ready to release it. Let go of the fish or leader and push the fish's head down and away from the boat.
For more information on fish handling tips and techniques please visit: https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/recreational/fishing-skills/catch-and-release.

Thank you to Jason O’Brien Photography for these images of a beautifully lit up Mid North Coast Striped Marlin prior to release.

Carp blitzed at Sofala!

Late last year more than 180 adult and junior anglers competed in the 2022 Sofala Carp Blitz, held on the Turon River in the NSW Central West.

Aimed at reducing the number of invasive European carp and redfin in the river, the popular event raises funds for Sofala Central Acclimatisation Society (CAS) to purchase native fish to restock the Turon catchment via the NSW DPI Dollar for Dollar Native Fish Restocking Program, which is funded by the Recreational Fishing Trust.

A total of 242 carp and 85 redfin were weighed in with competitors Jake Pollard and Christy Healy taking out biggest carp honours with 6.895kg and 5.216kg fish respectively.

As well as providing funds for native fish restocking, the 2022 Sofala Carp Blitz also raised funds to help support Daffodil Cottage Cancer Care.

DPI Fisheries congratulates the Sofala CAS for organising and running this great community event!

Book now for a 33% discount on Eco Fishing Huts!

DPI Eco Fishing Huts are back!  A total of 21 unique wilderness fishing and accommodation opportunities all offering 33% discount are available from now until 31 December 2023.

Book now as the prime times and popular locations are sure to fill up fast.

Follow this link to check out the full range https://bit.ly/2glub6U

This unique offer is only valid to recreational licence holders or those exempt such as if you are a pensioner or an Aboriginal person.

Make sure to enter the code “ECOHUTS” and include your recreational licence number or your fishing fee exemption details in the comments section when you make your booking.

Stay tuned for details on new exciting Eco Fishing Huts and info on the fantastic fishing opportunities you can enjoy with family and friends on the 21 already available.

The Eco Fishing Hut initiative is a great example of your licence fees at work!

Fish for crabs responsibly this summer!

Crab fishing is a popular activity, particularly during the warmer months in NSW. Sought after crab species such as Mud Crab and Blue Swimmer Crab can be effectively targeted using traps and nets and make for a fun time on the water and provide exceptional eating when back on land.

Here are some useful tips to help ensure you fish for crabs responsibly and minimise your environmental impact:   

  • Wildlife bycatch can occur with set fishing gear. Of the designs available, lift nets and round crab traps with small entrances are considered to be lower risk to wildlife. Lift nets are likely to have the lowest risk overall due to their “open” design, and with the mesh laying on the seabed, they have limited ghost fishing capacity. Choosing these gear types helps reduce wildlife bycatch. 
  • Crab traps that have large entrances, such as the large, rectangular, open-ended crab traps can potentially allow wildlife such as turtles to swim inside and become trapped. Modifying these traps by reducing the entrance size by adding some twine and a cable tie in the middle of the  trap opening reduces the risk and still allows you to effectively catch crabs.   
  • Witches hat nets can catch non-target species and wildlife by the animals becoming stuck in the entanglement mesh of the gear. These can be modified to operate as a lift net by removing the float from the mesh and re-attaching the float line with several lengths of lines directly to the ring. This results in the mesh laying on the seabed rather than being suspended, decreasing the risk of wildlife entanglement.   
  • Check your traps as regularly as possible, rather than leaving them unattended for extended periods of time. Reducing the soak time will reduce the probability of air breathing animals (such as turtles) drowning and reduces the chance of someone else (illegally) lifting your gear. Checking your gear more regularly can also lead to better catches – particularly when using gear such as lift nets. 
  • Do not allow traps to sit unattended for long periods of time and never abandon them. Fishing gear that has been lost or abandoned can continue to kill fish and wildlife through ghost fishing.  
  • Avoid high current areas and locations with big tidal movement when choosing your fishing location. Placing your crab gear in these areas may result in lightly weighted traps being moved and lost due the strength of the water movement. Avoid main boating channels and think about navigation and boat traffic when setting your gear as this can impact other water users.  

DPI has been holding a series of pop-up crab gear exchange days where fishers can exchange their witches hat or rectangular style trap for a new, more environmentally friendly, round crab trap or lift net.  Keep your eye out on the NSW DPI Fisheries Facebook page for any swap days near you over the summer and autumn period.  

For more information on how to modify your crab traps and nets to reduce wildlife bycatch visit shorturl.at/wxS68


New opportunities await charter fishing operators in NSW

The NSW Government has introduced new rules that will provide the charter fishing industry with the flexibility to grow and pursue new opportunities.

The amendments include:

  • allowing charter fishing business owners to use any suitable vessel, including non-powered vessels, such as kayaks. This will open new business opportunities that have the potential to drive investment and growth in regional communities.
  • streamlining the charter fishery’s annual licence renewal process and removing the linkage between boats and charter boat licences.
  • fishing access and opportunities have now improved for recreational fishers with the removal of the seasonal fishing closure at Budgewoi Lake and allowing recreational fishers to carry additional fishing rods and lines rigged with artificial flies or lures when fishing in certain inland waters.
These amendments were endorsed by Ministerial advisory councils and the Charter Fishing NSW Working Group.

For more information about the changes, visit the DPI website www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing.


A marine pest is no guest!

We all love spending time on the water, but let's make sure we don't harm the environment we love through our activities.

Biofouling can spread aquatic pests and diseases. Check your vessel for biofouling regularly and remove from the water to clean regularly and prior to moving to new locations.

Report all suspected aquatic pests and diseases on the 24 hour Animal Disease Hotline 1800 675 888.

Find out more https://fal.cn/3uU9L.


Download the free FishSmart app!

This free app provides recreational fishers with 24/7access to essential info they need to know to fish in NSW, such as a picture guide of common recreational species, bag & size limits, closed seasons and fishing gear rules! You can also use the real-time maps to locate your nearest FADs (Fish Aggregation Devices), artificial reefs, spearfishing info, recreational fishing havens and Marine Park Zones.  

You can also quickly find your local weather, tide, moon phase and barometric pressure to help choose best time to fish and record your fish your very own catch log plus more. Download the latest version of FishSmart NSW app from Google Play at http://bit.ly/2hO7jLZ or the iTunes app store at https://appsto.re/au/FY3gbb.i
Follow us on Instagram @nswdpi_fisheries
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