The Surat district received excellent rainfall before Christmas, which filled all the holes and got the rivers and creeks flowing. Since then we’ve had patchy storms, which often gave one spot good rainfall and the next-door property none, adding some more run-off into the local waterways.
So despite the fact that the intense western sun and quite a lot of windy weather has dried out the countryside to the point that several areas are again in serious need of more rainfall, the waterways seem to be in pretty good shape.
The hardworking members of the Surat Fishing Club have released many thousands of Murray cod, yellowbelly and silver perch fingerlings over the years. The prolonged drought the district has endured has meant that fingerling releases have been relatively low for some time. However, the current healthy state of the Balonne River has prompted the Surat Fishing Club to purchase 10,000 Murray cod and 5000 silver perch fingerlings from Granite Belt Hatchery at a cost of $8140.
On Saturday January 29, several members of the Surat Fishing Club met at the boat ramp to release a further 60,000 golden perch (yellowbelly) fingerlings. These fingerlings cost 19c each, from Hanwood Fish Hatchery at Murgon, so they represent a substantial investment for such a small local club.
The Surat Fishing Club has received two $5000 fish stocking grants from Queensland Fisheries Service, but the rest of the costs have been borne by the club and its willing volunteers. These fingerlings, once released into a natural river system, may disperse over hundreds of kilometres. This provides benefits for the wider fishing community, unlike those fingerlings that are released into impoundments.
The biggest fundraiser for the Surat Fishing Club is their annual Family Fishing Competition held on the Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend (June 11-12). This family competition is very friendly and relaxed, and there are plenty of campsites and also comfortable accommodation in town. The contact for the Fishing Competition is Robyn Bayly on 0428 265 173 or (07) 4626 5264. I’d really encourage people to consider making the trip out to Surat as not only will you have a great weekend, you’ll also enable the great fish-restocking program to continue.
While the river was running over the weir, quite a few yellowbelly were taken early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Young local Jake Grams recently caught some beautiful Murray cod – I just need to get him to tell me where!
Now that the river level has stabilised, however, the fishing has definitely slowed and is very quiet. The days are extremely hot, with many over 40C lately, and the upper water levels are very warm. Local fishermen tell me this tends to make fishing very difficult. At this time of year yellowbelly may be taken and any sort of a fresh really stimulates them into activity. Throughout March while the weather is still very warm, you still have opportunities to catch a feed but most people are looking forward to the cooler months so they can tangle with the Murray cod.
1) Now that the Balonne River is in a healthy state, the Surat Fishing Club has released thousands more fingerlings.
2) Recent fingerling releases have included Murray cod, yellowbelly and silver perch.Reads: 800