Fingerlings expected to grow into big barra in Fitzroy River
IN just a few years, Gracemere anglers will have the chance to reel in barramundi in their own back yard following an historic fingerlings release at the weekend.
The Fitzroy River Fish Stocking Association released 100 barra fingerlings into Springers Creek for the first time on Saturday.
Association president Jason Stanfield said each of the fish in the experimental release had been tagged so its progress could be monitored.
"We're pretty confident that these little fish will do really well in Springers as the creek holds plenty of food for the growing barra and it provides the perfect conditions for a barra nursery," he said.
Historically, fingerling releases were done in the upstream feeder systems of the Fitzroy River.
The small fish grew for a couple of years before making their way downstream to the saltwater reaches of the river as young adult fish.
Springers Creek was part of the lower Fitzroy flood plain and did, periodically, link back to the river on large flood events.
Traditionally, fingerlings were 30mm to 50mm.
The fingerlings released in Springers were closer to 200mm. The bigger fish could easily carry the tag which has an individual number and a contact telephone number that anglers are encouraged to call and register catch details.
"From this information, we can determine the fish's movements and its growth," Mr Stanfield said.
"The release is about adding stock to the wild that the public has access to, but also about giving us a better understanding of what the fish populations are doing."
Mr Stanfield said young barramundi could grow up to 100mm a season.
The legal keep size is 58cm to 120cm.
The name barramundi is Aboriginal for "large-scaled silver fish".
Virtually all barramundi are born male, then turn into females when they are three to four years old. This means female barramundi can only be courted by younger men.
Barramundi live in fresh water, salt water and estuaries (where fresh and saltwater meet).
A barramundi's age is determined by counting growth rings on their scales (much like counting growth rings on a tree).
Large female barramundi can produce 32 million eggs in a season.
Barramundi have been recorded up to 1.2m long and weighing nearly 40kg.
Barramundi can travel great distances in a lifetime; one fish was tagged and found 640km away.
Barramundi spawn on the full moon, and their iridescent skin can be seen shimmering through the water during their "love dance".