Lake Wendouree and its future
  |  First Published: October 2010

If ever there is a clear example of how the drought has broken, it is Lake Wendouree in Ballarat. Now that the lake is near full, anglers are keenly anticipating the re-stocking of the lake.

Questions in many anglers’ minds rest on the species of fish to be stocked into the lake, and also the future water security of the lake.

This has been a significant issue in the local Ballarat angling community, and many Victorians will be keenly anticipating a return to fishing on this wonderful lake.

Lake Wendouree has a pivotal role in the history of Australian flyfishing, with many techniques finding their Australian origin on this lake.

English ‘loch-style’ fishing had its Australian birth at Wendouree, with many of the so called ‘new’ techniques being used on this lake 100 years ago.

Many of the surrounding lakes and waterways are beneficiaries of the Ballarat Acclimatisation Society’s efforts in rearing trout for stocking. Even significant private fisheries such as Millbrook Lakes use these fish as the basis for it’s nationally recognised fishery.

The lake has been the venue for many state and national flyfishing competitions, and has even hosted an international event.

Of most significance was the 1956 Olympic Games, where Wendouree was the venue for the rowing and kayaking – and many monuments exist all around the lake.

Two major fishing clubs call Wendouree home, the Ballarat Fly Fishers and the Ballarat and District Anglers Association. Both of these two clubs have a long and important role in recreational fishing on lake Wendouree, with many members teaching young anglers the key points to fishing.

But it isn’t just flyfishing which makes Wendouree important, it is the average family angler that takes the kids to the edge of the lake to soak a worm or cast a few lures around.

Heaps of anglers love this lake for the ease of access, the good fishing it can offer to anglers of all persuasions.

As we are entering a state election campaign, we thought it prudent to contact three local candidates for the Ballarat area on their thoughts on the lake, the re-stocking of the lake and future water security for this wonderful recreational fishery.

Craig Coltman – Liberal candidate for Ballarat West

Craig Coltman is a long time angler on Lake Wendouree and is very passionate about this waterway. Craig supports the re-stocking of trout into Wendouree as soon as possible, both to begin the process of renewing the recreational fishery and to combat redfin perch and European carp that have unfortunately entered the lake via the Gong Gong pipeline.

Coltman also raises the need for a total catchment plan that plans for long term water sustainability in the area, not just for Wendouree, but also for the Leigh Creek catchment.

He highlights that there is no current long-term water security for Ballarat – it relies on rainfall and the Goldfields pipeline which draws water from the Murray/Goulbourn catchment – up to 90% in many instances.

The Liberal candidate says that there is a need to get smarter with the total catchment management, to use and re-use and to capture stormwater in a retention basin, which can reduce storm surges and their impact and improve water quality.

Leon Dwyer – Greens candidate for Ballarat West

Leon Dwyer and the Greens support the re-stocking of trout into Lake Wendouree, and recognise the importance of trout fishing in Lake Wendouree as a key part of Ballarat’s heritage.

The Greens candidate says that they are distressed to find that carp and redfin have been allowed to enter the lake and are perplexed to hear that the water was not appropriately transferred.

The Greens also support recreational fishing in general as a means for the community to connect with and value their environment.

Dwyer also raises some serious concerns the Greens have with heavy metal pollution in the lake substrate and in the water from the western bore, which has been found to contain higher than acceptable levels of lead.

The Greens are seeking water testing similar to what the Barwon Water carries out, as they feel water testing by Central Highlands Water is seriously lacking.

For example test results obtained under freedom of information has revealed above acceptable lead levels from the Western Bore, which is to be used to keep Wendouree full.

This poses concerns for the long-term health of the waterway and any fish stocked into the lake.

Sharon Knight – Labor candidate for Ballarat West

Labor candidate Sharon Knight says that she want to see Lake Wendouree once again become part of the social heart of Ballarat, to get water permanently back into this lake again and to see people fishing and boating on the lake again.

The Labor says that the Victorian Labor Government’s investment in filling the lake will have the flow-on benefit of bringing more people to the region and it is important to capitalise on this opportunity.

When the lake is filled the Labor Government (if re-elected) will be restocking the lake, which will bring locals and tourists to the lake to fish again, with the fish to be returned being native perch and trout.

As a final comment Knight says that it is fantastic to see life returning to the lake as the water levels rise and she looks forward to walking around the lake and seeing residents and visitors sailing, rowing and, of course, fishing.

Election day

The state election is on the 27th of November, and many anglers showed in the recent Federal election that angling policies contribute to their voting preference.

In our November issue we will include a full run-down of what each major party is proposing for recreational fishing in Victoria.

editors note. We did seek clarification on what Labor candidate Sharon Knight meant by ‘native perch’, but as we went to print we hadn’t received an answer.

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