Delaying Mildura
  |  First Published: December 2016

As the long-awaited cod opening is now here, many cod anglers throughout Victoria have been and completed their fishing trips throughout the state, chasing the amazing Murray cod.

However, that doesn’t always mean that every cod angler is running out the back gate eager to get on the water, especially in Mildura. The Murray River around Mildura has recently experienced minor flooding, influencing a black water event in which the death of many fish occurred. This flooding happened throughout the system, with some places more affected than others, and Mildura taking a fair hit.

Black water is a catastrophic event that occurs when flood water and excessive flows push into floodplains where leaf and old organic matter have been sitting for long periods of time. This flood water lays in this area with the old leaf matter drawing the oxygen out of the water, which turns the water to a black tan colour; hence the name. Black water is a naturally occurring event that mainly impacts the health of the fish throughout the systems – as the oxygen levels drop, it becomes harder for the fish to breath, and in fold, to live. Most fish species rise to the surface to get air, as that’s there only source that can be seen within local areas around Mildura. This black water event was quite bad this time around, producing many sad sights around the region.

Anglers are taking advantage of this within certain locations, cleaning up on yellowbelly that are chasing oxygen around weirs and regulators within the region. The high flows pushing through weirs and regulators provide oxygen for the fish species on the downstream side, where most of the angling has been done during the black water phase. Lure fishing, as well as bait fishing, has been producing solid numbers of yellow belly within these areas – please make sure the rules and regulations are followed strictly, as these fish are piling up and don’t have anywhere to go or much chance. There have been reports of around 10-20 golden perch being caught in a single session within these areas, both on lures and baits – times like this can easily be abused, so please do the right thing and only take what you need, or even better, get some practice on your catch and release fishing.

Though many anglers will be itching to get back out onto the water to chase the elusive Murray cod, the damaging black water event and severe flooding have interrupted this. The keen anglers, that can’t wait for the water to clear up and drop, are packing up and heading away to larger dams and impoundments, chasing both golden perch and Murray cod, where it’s more suitable for fishing.

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