RECREATIONAL fishermen and fisherwomen of the region - the countdown is over.
Tomorrow from noon, the 2017 barramundi season is officially open, a cause for celebration and anticipation according to Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne.
Mr Byrne said the influx in barramundi populations had even prompted Steve Morgan, the editor of Queensland Fishing Monthly, to suggest Rockhampton should be renamed Australia's barra capital.
"Since commercial nets were removed from the Fitzroy River in November 2015, anglers have been reporting that the number of barramundi has significantly increased,” he said.
"The volumes are at a level not seen for decades and the number of big fish has recreational fishers desperate for the season to start.”
Mr Byrne, who is the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Economic Development, said fishing for barramundi had been off-limits in the Fitzroy since November 1.
"Closed seasons are there to protect the long-term sustainability of iconic species. The closure coincides with spawning periods and protects barramundi stocks during this vulnerable period of their life cycle.
"The closed season allows them to spawn and replenish to ensure healthy fish stocks.”
Rockhampton-based fishing business Infofish Australia, which has developed the Crystal Bowl real-time monitoring and forecasting service, estimates the catch rate for legal Barramundi in the Fitzroy River will be around 20 to 40%.
Manager Bill Sawynok said the forecast for the catch rate of legal King Threadfin is for it to remain steady for 2017.
"However that follows a large increase of 68% in 2016 compared with 2015, while the forecast was for a 60-100% increase,” he said.
"Both species will have seen rises in catch rates of around 60-80% over the 2 years and this is great news for this year's Rocky Barra Bounty.”