It’s not easy being green
  |  First Published: September 2008

There are times when my area report describes how the fishing has been just a little bit quiet. Well this month I’ll tell you warts and all about how really tough the going has been. I will also touch on a very ugly report about quite a few anglers being fined for doing the wrong thing.

There is some good news as well, because the recent Twin Rivers bream competition was another great success with some terrific prizes dished out – including a new car!

Tough fishing for all

I’ve been getting some very lean reports from all corners of the angling community including keen bait fishers and lure anglers alike. Many are saying that even after putting in long hours, few fish have been caught. It’s hard to know what to put this down to at the moment without placing all the blame on to the murky green waters.

There has been the odd rumour of anglers finding big schools of mullet and having no trouble bagging out, but these fish have been quite patchy. I suppose Mother Nature always works in cycles of boom and bust, and maybe we just need to be patient for a while before the fishing picks up again.

The algae persists.

Contrary to some reports, the algal bloom has not dissipated over the colder months. In fact the green water has pushed right up into the western extremes of Lake Wellington. Historically other algae outbreaks fell away during winter, however this new and persistent algal form, known as the Synechococcus bloom, normally occurs out at sea.

In other parts of the world these blooms have been known to survive for up to three years. The lakes have never experienced this sort of continual outbreak and the impact on tourism and of course fishing will need to be carefully monitored. There have been quite a few reports in the media about how the lakes are dying and in extremely bad shape. I’m not sure that the situation is that dramatic, and it really depends on who you talk to.

The local commercial eel fisher Darren White has a more reserved appraisal of the fishery. He agreed that the spider crabs and mussels had been hit quite hard by last year’s floods, but he also went on to tell me of the vast schools of baitfish and incredible abundance of shrimp that was now in the lakes. He also told me of safely releasing a lot of big bream, which turn up as by-catch in his nets now and then.

It looks like we need time to assess the situation from an angling perspective and I will be talking to all those in the know during the next few months. I’ll certainly keep you all informed. Allegations of bream stocks in crisis have been voiced by many before, with most proving to be unconfirmed.

Competition fishing

On a positive note the 12th Annual Twin Rivers Bream Competition was held a little while ago and the number of participants was again very high. Over 500 entries were received and the biggest fish went 1.79kg, which is close to four good old-fashioned pounds. Happily, this big fish was released, along with 123 other bream, which is a great reflection on how most competition anglers these days are keen to catch and release.

A group of Fishcare volunteers were also busy tagging all the released fish and it will be interesting to see if they get recaptured in the next few years. A further 151 bream were kept by anglers, making a total of 275 bream weighed in for the event. One lucky angler went home with a brand new car, courtesy of a random draw. This event is renowned for its excellent prizes like high quality fishing gear, TVs, chainsaws and camper vans.

Illegal fishing

I hate to report on so many negatives in our fishing world but I’m compelled to reveal the mindless behaviour of a group of feral anglers recently. Seven people were allegedly caught catching their limit of luderick then ferrying the bag back to the car and returning many times to take multiple bags. Apparently Fisheries Officers were alerted to the crime and were able to watch offenders in action. I hope the full weight of the law applies and maximum penalties are issued, because anything less is an insult to those of us who are happy to do the right thing.

A large bream caught and released into the algae green water.

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