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    CATCH OF THE DAY: Mark James wasted no time dropping a line in after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, heading to Lake Wartook where he bagged a rainbow trout.

Wimmera waterways in fine shape

By DEAN LAWSON

Wimmera waters are set to become a magnet for anglers with easing of COVID-19 restrictions allowing people to return to their favourite fishing haunts.

Reports suggest the Wimmera River and regional lakes are teeming with life and early autumn rain has likely improved conditions further.

Data collected from Horsham’s annual Labor Day fishing competition in March suggested a vibrant and healthy Horsham district section of the Wimmera River. 



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Suggestions were of similar conditions both upstream and downstream of the area.

Wimmera Catchment Management Authority’s Greg Fletcher said the catches in the Horsham competition produced interesting insight about the river in Horsham.

“The numbers of fish have been ticking along at a reasonable level, but there has been a marked increase in average weights over the years,” he said.

“This indicates that Horsham weir pool is performing as a productive food web, enabling stocked fish species to survive and thrive.

“There is a very good abundance of micro and macroinvertebrates such as plankton and shrimp to act as a food source and they have benefitted from a good abundance of aquatic plants including eelgrass and pondweed to act as habitat.”

Horsham weir pool stretches from Riverside on the eastern fringe of Horsham to Horsham weir.

Mr Fletcher, Wimmera CMA water project and planning officer, said the contest revealed the numbers of noxious carp, in comparison with native fish, were relatively low.

“The carp caught all tended to be older fish, indicating that there has not been much carp recruitment,” he said.

“This was probably due to the lack of large or flood flows, fine efforts by anglers in taking them out of the river and probably more predatory pressure from native species on the small juvenile carp.”

Mr Fletcher said catchment managers expected similar conditions further downstream to Dimboola.

“Conditions become more challenging further on, due to times of relatively low water and higher salinity levels,” he said.

But Mr Fletcher said an environmental-water flow schedule and consistent fish-stocking rates indicated the river would provide good for fishing opportunities in the near future.

He said an autumn break in the region would have a beneficial impact on the river system across the region.

“The river is starting to flow quite early and it is definitely in a better position than the past couple of years,” he said.

“Rain increases opportunities to connect remnant pools and promotes diversity of life. Rain means you get more bang for your buck with environmental flows.

“It really bodes well – to have the upper river flowing in April is quite unusual and if it continues through May and June we will have very good river conditions.”

A comparative analysis of weights of fish caught during Horsham fishing competition shows a 50 percent gain in average for golden perch and a doubling in silver perch since 2014.

The entire May 20, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!