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    WET A LINE: Horsham’s Hunter Campey caught a personal-best yellowbelly in the Wimmera River last month.

Call for citizen monitors for yellowbelly

Wimmera Catchment Management Authority is conducting a research project on native fish yellowbelly, and is calling for community participation.

The organisation is inviting Wimmera River users visiting near Horsham, Dimboola and Jeparit weirs to become citizen-science monitors in coming weeks.

The CMA is specifically encouraging anglers who catch yellowbelly to take note if any of their catches contain eggs or the seminal fluid, milt.

The organisation is encouraging anyone spending time along the river to note general signs of fish spawning or fish aggregation. 

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Wimmera CMA chief executive Dave Brennan said the Wimmera River was home to a wide range of freshwater fish and the organisation appreciated community support to help fill some knowledge gaps.

“Fish play important environmental and recreational roles in Wimmera waterways and there is always a need to build understanding about their lifecycle in our region,” he said.

Yellowbelly, also known as golden perch or callop, is sought-after by anglers and the subject of widespread stocking programs across south-eastern Australia. 

There was yellowbelly spawning activity in the Wimmera River just below Horsham weir in November 2021, after spring rain in the upper catchment delivered a pulse of water over a four-day duration.

An annual Native Fish Report Card monitoring survey in April 2022 detected higher numbers of juvenile yellowbelly, indicating a successful breeding event.

This was an unusual occurrence because yellowbelly are not known to breed in the Wimmera River.

The current research will explore the use of water for the environment to mimic these environmental conditions.

Mr Brennan said Wimmera CMA planned to pursue the research in spring of last year, but flooding conditions prevented it.

“If we can replicate the conditions that stimulate these fish to breed naturally, it will be a game changer locally for fish breeding, how we use water for the environment and the promotion of angling opportunities in the river,” he said.

After monitoring water temperatures, Wimmera CMA staff delivered 150 megalitres of water a day for the environment from Taylors Lake, from November 9 to today, when temperatures were warmed to the right level. The flow will now reduce to 20 megalitres a day.

People are invited to provide photographs and information about what they see via

Mr Brennan said weather and river conditions might also influence progress of the research and encouraged people to follow Wimmera CMA’s social media accounts for updates.

The entire November 15, 2023 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!