REEL BIG FISH: Luke Clow holds up a solid barra from Lake Awoonga during the 2017-18 closed season.
REEL BIG FISH: Luke Clow holds up a solid barra from Lake Awoonga during the 2017-18 closed season. contributed

Awoonga fishing 'exceptionally well' ahead of closed season

ANGLERS need to look no further than Lake Awoonga to snare barramundi during the closed season, which begins at midday tomorrow.

The annual barramundi closed season along Queensland's east coast runs until midday on February 1.

Gladstone Area Water Board hatchery and fishery manager Thomas Hayes said barramundi fishing in Lake Awoonga had been spectacular recently.

"It's been fishing exceptionally well for about six weeks now," Mr Hayes said.

"The catch rates are far exceeding even some of the most northern locations, with one angler reporting 40 fish being landed in one session and over 100 bites in a day.

"For the average angler starting out on the lake, it is not uncommon for four or five fish to hit the boat in an afternoon, with an average size range of 50-80cm.

"We've had reports of metre-plus barra being sighted but they are still proving to be elusive."

 

Hatcheries technician Rob O'Reilly and Manager Thomas Hays.Around 2000 fingerlings were released into Lake Awonga today.
Gladstone Area Water Board hatchery and fishery manager Thomas Hayes with barramundi fingerlings. Mike Richards GLA180418FISH

Lake Awoonga is one of the few locations where you can catch a barramundi 365 days of the year, although Mr Hayes reminded anglers of catch-and-release rules.

"Most anglers at Lake Awoonga practice catch and release, but if they do want to keep a barramundi during the closed season, they are allowed one fish per angler, with a minimum size of 58cm," he said.

Mr Hayes expects fishing to improve at Awoonga over the summer months.

"Moving into the barramundi closure, fishing at the lake will likely improve even further as temperatures and moon phases boost the fish activity.

"The regular anglers and fishing guides are consistently reporting over 10 fish per session and this trend should continue throughout summer."

 

HAPPY FELLA: Aaron Shepherd with a nice Lake Awoonga barramundi.
HAPPY FELLA: Aaron Shepherd with a nice Lake Awoonga barramundi during the 2017/18 closed season. contributed

There's extra incentive to wet a line at Awoonga during closed season with the water board's $1k Barramundi Promotion still running.

Mr Hayes said none of the $1000 pink tagged barramundi had been caught yet but recapture rates of tagged fish in the lake were good, increasing the odds of landing one.

"If anglers catch a pink tagged barramundi they must enter it through the Track My Fish Lake Awoonga mobile app and cut the pink tag off with a pair of line scissors and retain it as proof of capture," he said.

"We've had a good uptake of the Track My Fish Lake Awoonga mobile app which is great to see.

"We have a core group of about 12 anglers who are consistently entering catches for us; in October, 145 catches have been recorded through the app.

"We'd love everyone who is fishing on the lake to enter their catches through the app and there is the added incentive of a $50 voucher from either Tackleworld, LJs Compleat Angler or Boyne Island Bait and Tackle up for grabs each month."

GAWB says on average close to 300,000 barramundi are put into the lake each year, with smaller numbers of mangrove jack and sea mullet, depending on the season.

Meanwhile, Queensland Boating and Fisheries patrol district manager Tony Loader is reminding people the closed season applies to all commercial and recreational fishers.

"Fisheries officers will be stepping up surveillance during the barramundi closed season to protect this valued fish species during the summer wet season," Mr Loader said.

"It's important that barramundi are not targeted for catch and release during a closed season as the stress of capture may actually prevent the fish from spawning.

"Any fishers found taking barramundi during the closed season could face on-the-spot fines of $522 and a maximum penalty of $130,000 in court."