Surf and turf: Rocky to become Barra tourism hotspot

Surf and turf: Rocky to become Barra tourism hotspot

ROCKHAMPTON will no longer just be known as the Beef Capital of Australia, but also as the “home of barramundi”.

After working for months with new partners, Hooked Fishing, the Rockhampton Regional Council (RRC) has announced a lucrative recreational fishing sector deal set to reel in a number of new charter operations to grow Rockhampton’s fishing tourism industry.

“We have doubled our fishing resources… we’ve purchased a second vessel and employed four or five more people,” Hooked Fishing CEO Karla McPhail said.

“We’re also doing training initiatives with council and upskilling our work force.

“It’s a huge initiative for us and we’re very supportive of the tourism development and the jobs and employment… we’ve had massive numbers of bookings already.”

Just last week, Hooked Fishing skipper, Coby Pascoe, said a fisher pulled a 1.06m barra from the river.

Cr Tony Williams, Mayor Margaret Strelow, Coby Pascoe and Carla McPhail at the Fitzroy River.

Cr Tony Williams, Mayor Margaret Strelow, Coby Pascoe and Carla McPhail at the Fitzroy River. Allan Reinikka ROK090318afitzroy

Rockhampton mayor Margaret Strelow said without the fishing net ban, the big-sized barra boom would not be possible.

Cr Strelow said people could be delivered from the airport to the dedicated fishing precinct in a matter of minutes to make use of the charters operating on the Fitzroy River.

Cr Strelow explained the name ‘barramundi’ comes from “our own Darumbal people”.

“We have a truly unique fishing experience to offer and we welcome these growing number of charter services which will cater to visitors looking to land that perfect fish,” Cr Strelow said.

“It’s exciting to see that across the different charters, some are relocating here from other areas while others have transitioned from commercial operations to the recreational side.”

Council’s Infrastructure Committee chair councillor Tony Williams said the RRC has invested in land-based platforms and are working with the Department of Transport and Main Roads on the new north-side boat ramp to cement Rockhampton’s potential as a well-known fishing hub.

Cr Tony Williams, Mayor Margaret Strelow, Coby Pascoe and Carla McPhail at the Fitzroy River.

Cr Tony Williams, Mayor Margaret Strelow, Coby Pascoe and Carla McPhail at the Fitzroy River. Allan Reinikka ROK090318afitzroy

The council has also implemented a voluntary code of practice for fishers.

“These businesses will support local jobs both directly through people skippering the boats, administration staff and then also indirectly through promoting the region’s accommodation providers to their clients,” Cr Williams said.

“Each business will fill in a niche fishing business opportunity; Big Fella Sportsfishing has a large mothership and three adventure vessels, Hooked Fishing has two barra boats perfect for the Fitzroy Delta and Guided Fishing Down Under specialises in saltwater fly fishing for barramundi and king threadfin and also freshwater fly fishing.”