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Summer finally comes to Sunraysia
  |  First Published: February 2011



Finally here in the Sunraysia it’s starting to feel a little like summer.

Without doubt to date it’s been the coolest and wettest spring and early summer I’ve ever seen up here. The flushes of water through the Murray River system once thought to be magnificent have turned into something of a double-edged sword.

It seems that large flushes of water are also capable of doing untold damage to our fish stocks as well.

Large inflows (and then outflows) of water to previously dry river land areas has introduced an incredible amount of ‘black water’ into the system. This black water is derived from rotting leaf litter and, just like the humble cup of tea it, stains the water tannin but more importantly removes much of the oxygen from the system.

To date the ‘black death’ has moved through the Robinvale area and the fish deaths in this once prime fishing area are enough to make a grown angler cry. The area is littered with trophy Murray cod and golden perch.

The long term effects of such a decimation of the breeding fish is catastrophic. With the black water still to move to and through Mildura it remains to be seen what the result will be here. It seems authorities can do little to avert this mobile tragedy happening with many claiming it’s a natural event. I’m not convinced of this, but I do know it has been and will continue to be costly to the fish of our rivers.

Upstream Mildura

The reports across the board not particularly outstanding, due in no small way to the current ultra-high water levels of the Murray River. Fellow Mildura columnist John Menhennett tells me there were a few Murray cod taken around the Robinvale area on lure after cod opening. John also tells me that anglers are having a lot of fun fishing the flooded backwaters and billabongs for European carp with fly gear. The areas around Nangiloc and Colignan have flooded right out into the margins at present, and bait anglers fishing in close are landing some nice Murray cod and golden perch.

Downstream Mildura

Visiting angler Jason Lloyd had a cracking few days in the Mildura region prior to the weir being removed. Over the first two days Jason and his mate took well over 100 golden perch on a mix of yabby and shrimp baits fishing the edges from a boat, with only a couple of fish kept, the rest released to fight again.

The following day Jason had an absolute red letter day. Things were slowish and the bait reserves were getting down so in an effort to try something different Jason started using saltwater pilchards fished in the faster flowing water, and the perch went nuts over them!

An incredible session finished up with good numbers of fish, with an average weight of just over 2kg. This fishing can be a funny game at times, and it doesn’t hurt (obviously) to try something different occasionally.

Got One Mildura’s Alan reports that bait is still the most productive option at the moment, with anglers fishing within a metre of the water’s edge getting some nice perch. Lure anglers trolling upstream are getting a few fish, with one angler taking perch and Murray cod on 75mm, 15ft Oargee Plow lures. The lures carrying a rattle offer a distinct advantage in these current conditions.

Wentworth

Wentworth’s Gary McInnes tells me the fishing below Wentworth is very hit and miss at the moment. Anglers bait fishing downstream of the weir are just as likely to go out and draw doughnuts, than to come home with a couple of perch. The Murray cod have been fairly quiet through this region to date.

Forecast

It’s a difficult thing to make a fishing forecast with such a devastating thing as the black water moving our way. I would normally think that the fishing of the region should be on the improve by February. As I write the Mildura weir has been completely removed from the system to allow unimpeded passage of the floodwaters. The weir should have been replaced by February and the quiet weir pool waters of the region will be restored. This certainly makes for far more favourable fishing conditions for both bait and lure anglers.

As the water levels recede, the popular Apex Park and Curlwaa regions should start to produce some nice golden perch.

Trolling and casting for Murray cod through the Mildura and Wentworth regions will also become more productive. In these unusual times it’s hard to predict the best methods; however bait is always a safe option.

A little plumbing by the lure anglers of the water may be required, deep and shallow, to find the right option.

Those of us who like a feed of yabbies may well be in for a treat in the next few months. If the fish are a little quiet, the yabbies may be the best option. Be sure to check your State’s regulations to ensure you’re using the correct equipment.

A slip-up here could prove more costly than a feed of yabbies is worth.

That’s it for this month. I’m very happy to get your feedback. Please email me at --e-mail address hidden-- with “fishing” in the title, if you’d like to submit a report or a digital photograph of your capture. I’m also happy to field any fishing related enquiries you may have, send ‘em through and I’ll do my best!  See you on the water, Darky.

Small Goulburn Lures Old Codgers are a great trolling option for Mildura’s golden perch.

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