Andrew Rowland helps kids release trout

Although freshwater fishing is now allowed all year in the South-West, spring still marks the nominal start of the trout season in WA and likely always will.

Until this year trout fishing was allowed from September 1 after a short closed season, but the new rules now mean freshwater enthusiasts can try their luck any time.

However, it is the onset of spring which will always be associated with trout locally, as water levels start to settle after the winter rains, the weather begins to warm and the fish become more active, all combining to make for a much better fishing experience.

West Australian anglers now have access to an innovative new artificial reef off Exmouth.

The new structure, named King Reef, is the first integrated artificial reef (IAR) in Australia and will offer easy access to small boaters in the relatively protected waters of Exmouth Gulf.

The 27,000 cubic metre reef is in 17m of water around six kilometres from the town marina, and it expected to provide an excellent family fishing location.

More than 27,000 cubic metres of fish habitat have been established with deployment of the reef at a cost of around $1 million.

Skippy are suckers for lightly-weighted soft plastics

As the cold weather takes a grip, it’s not all bad news for metro anglers.

Not only are we in the midst of an incredible pink snapper season, the cold weather also means some great opportunity for inshore anglers to target one of our most under-rated fish, officially called silver trevally but known to most of us as skippy.

I cut my teeth trying to tempt these feisty little scrappers with a handline off the wharf in Albany and it made for some memorable, if very basic, fishing.

A way to target a wide range of pelagic species

If early results are any indication then the new Slidog stickbait from Fremantle’s Halco Tackle is going to be a winner.

I’ve become a massive fan of sinking stickbaits in recent years and they are my favoured way to target a wide range of pelagic species, to the point where I cast little else much of the time.

The ability to work the rod to give these bibless lures an erratic darting action that many hunting fish find irresistible, combined with being able to use them through the water column from right on top to near the bottom, makes them both versatile and effective.

Cuttlefish are pretty aggressive animals

A few years ago I wrote what I thought was an amusing article about one of my mates being bitten by a cuttlefish.

The angler in question, Paul Favas, was chewed on by a huge cuttley while holding it up so I could get a few pictures.

It left a fair scar on his hand and he later claimed to have developed strange aquatic powers, gave himself the alias Cephaloman and started taking cold salt water baths, but I digress.

The fact is cuttlefish are pretty aggressive animals and there have even been occasional cases of divers dying after being attacked by them, so these chubby cephalopods are not to be trifled with.

Albert Park Lake is stocked with trout before every school holidays

An unexpected fishing opportunity during a recent trip to Melbourne should be food for thought for local fisheries managers.

I was over there for a week and stumbled across news that a number of lakes around Victoria had been stocked with rainbow trout just before the school holidays which coincided with my visit.

The stocking is part of the fantastic Target One Million initiative which is investing $46 million to boost recreational fisher numbers in Victoria and is aimed at encouraging kids to wet a line during their holidays.

A nice pinkie from the beach just north of Perth

The wild storms which have lashed the metro area in recent weeks might be an annoyance to many people, but they were eagerly anticipated by one hardy group of anglers.

When most sensible people are avoiding the feral weather by staying at home in bed or on the couch, a certain breed of hardy shore-based fishers keen to land a trophy capture will be out in the elements soaking a bait.

Rugged up in warm and waterproof clothing, they’ll happily brave the biting wind and driving rain to target the big pink snapper which invariably move in close to shore during and after big north-westerly blows.

95-year-old takes out a section at the Shark Bay Fishing Fiesta

There has probably never been an older winner at a fishing competition than Joe Vredenbregt.

That 95-year-old – that’s right, 95 – took out a section at the Shark Bay Fishing Fiesta in late May in a remarkable effort by the spritely nonagenarian who is a regular at the event and was fishing on the boat KeepRWet.

The oldest angler in the week-long event, the Shark Bay local won the heaviest tuna/mackerel/cobia category with a cracking 17.45kg cobia that made many younger anglers at the annual competition envious.

Beaten only by a marlin and 18.2kg estuary cod, it was the third biggest fish weighed in during the competition and also won Joe the award for the heaviest fish caught on the Wednesday of the event, which was being held for the 24th time.