Fish kill upsets locals
  |  First Published: March 2006

The hot dry summer continues in the Surat area with no widespread rainfall since December 2005.

Many areas are nearly devoid of feed and are extremely dusty and bare. Some lucky properties have had storms deliver much needed rainfall, while neighbouring properties have missed out completely. Several grain-growers have given up on any hope of a summer crop and are concentrating now on preparing for the wheat season.

The river however, is actually flowing over the weir and has done so now for quite some time. Local townspeople have actually been able to access plenty of river water to maintain their lawns and gardens. This is due to plenty of rain upstream, which has filled all the holes in the river and enabled it to flow. Ultimately this has to be good for the river system, however; on Saturday 21 January locals learnt that sudden summer downpours can come with an unexpected cost.

A phone call from Ronald Thompson, who is a keen fishermen and member of the local fishing and re-stocking club, saw me down at the boat ramp next to the bridge to see a very sorry sight. There were dead fish floating down the river. The dead fish in the immediate area up and downstream of the bridge were collected and piled on the bank whilst a shocked group of locals looked on. Apparently many people had seen fish gasping and rolling on the surface in the previous 24 hours. I saw 20 dead fish, two yellowbelly and 18 cod. The cod were generally quite large with several 15kg+ and one weighing 20kg. A much larger, unweighed cod was plucked from the water beneath the weir.

Fisheries were contacted and said that the fish would have been killed by a ‘cold water shock’ resulting from a large influx of rainwater flowing into pockets of water that were actually quite warm or hot due to the prolonged heat wave conditions experienced over the Christmas New Year period. Rainfall exceeding 4” had been recorded upstream prior to the fish kill. Seeing that number of large cod was distressing to many people, hopefully the dead fish only came from a very small section of the river.

1st Carp Competition

Last weekend saw the Surat Fishing and Restocking Club hosting their very first carp competition to assist in eradicating this serious pest from the river. They had 103 senior entries, 62 junior entries and a further 35 team entries. Fishing was from 8am to 5pm and a total of 209 carp were caught with a total weight of 289.6kg.

At around 11am several thousand fingerlings were released into the river, hopefully plenty will survive to ensure we can catch cod and yellowbelly in the future!

The smallest carp prize went to Justine Allwood with a 390g carp and the prize for biggest carp went to Courtney Drummond with a 5140g fish. The club worked with the Queensland Murray Darling Committee, Landcare, the DPI and Fisheries and would like to thank everyone their assistance and involvement.

A few yellowbelly and cod have also been caught but most catches have been carp. Ronald Thompson has been tagging and releasing cod and yellowbelly in the river so if you catch a tagged fish please take the time to contact the number written on the tag and report the details, even if you take the fish for the table. This is extremely important as the there is so much that we don’t know about our native fish and all the information we are able to gather is valuable. If you visit Surat over March I’m sure you will catch a few fish if you put in the time and target the snags and deeper holes.

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