Macalister in Ruins
  |  First Published: April 2007

With flash flooding in late February and early March in Gippsland, the Macalister River and its tributaries are in ruins. Who would have thought that we would go from fires to floods in the same season?

The fires have decimated all streamside vegetation of the Macalister River above Lake Glenmaggie and its main tributaries the Barkley and Wellington rivers. As a result, there were huge amounts of ash close to these rivers and the flash flooding has laden them with ash and sediment.

The rivers have now turned a horrible clay-red colour, however Errol Parmagiami from the Department of Fisheries has told me that the red colour of the water is due only to sediment and ash rather than the fire retardant phoschek.

The flash flooding has not raised the flow rate of these rivers at all: they have returned to slow meandering creeks. Lake Glenmaggie has risen slightly but not enough to be excited about.

Errol Parmagiami also told me that the bass and trout should survive in Glenmaggie as the sediment is diffused over a larger water volume, hence the lake is only slightly discoloured. There have however been unconfirmed bass kills in the Macalister River and Errol himself found some dead trout in Shaws Creek, despite the fact that it is fairly clear of sediment.

All in all, the Macalister River is going to be useless in terms of fishing for a while. No one is really sure how long it will take for Fisheries to declare the river healthy enough to resume the stocking of trout.

Russell Macklin, who lives in the Tyers region, went to the Thomson River below the wall and reported that, like the Macalister, this section was very discoloured.

Now to some good news – the Tanjil River, both below and above Blue Rock, is fishing very well. The eastern and western branches above Blue Rock are producing well for flyfishers. Small dries in a wide range of dun, spinner and hopper patterns are all working extremely well. Most of the fish are small yet there have been a few fish up to 500g taken. Below the dam, fish up to 1kg have been caught on soft plastics such as the Berkley Realistix Power Minnow and small Squidgie Wrigglers.

A bass survey conducted in late February by the Department of Fisheries was successful as two healthy bass of around 30cm were caught. Brett Geddes tells me that to find these fish in Blue Rock it is best to look for the deepest water possible.

Fisheries also conducted a survey in Hazelwood Pondage as 6,800 bass were released there, but the survey was unsuccessful. However, at least one bass has been caught on rod and reel by a friend of mine.

For more information on fishing Central Gippsland, contact Will at Allways Angling in Traralgon on (03) 5174 8544.

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