THE MACKAY Area Fish Stocking Association has released the first batch of sooty grunter bred in its hatchery this summer. Hatchery coordinator Russell Bilney and several volunteers transported the 30mm long fingerlings to Eungella Dam for release. The fish had been spawned by MAFSA’s long-time resident sooty ‘H J’ and unfortunately she died shortly after.
Around 21,000 sooty fingerlings were released into the dam at various sites to maximise the survival rates, and all fish seemed to acclimatise very quickly and move off directly into the weed beds for cover. These fish can be expected to reach angling sizes of 300mm or better in around 12 months so they’ll provide a great top-up for the existing sooty fishery – which has to be one of the best, if not the best, in Australia. Sooties do breed in Broken River above the dam when conditions suit, but with the past couple of dry years any natural recruitment has been minimal.
That is the good news part of the story, and now for the bad news.
Jeff Eales and Rob Foot decided not to ‘waste’ the trip to Eungella Dam and as they are both sooty fans (do you know any angler who isn’t?) they took along some gear to have a round or two with the sooties. While engaged in this fun activity they came across the remnants of a gill net which, judging by the size of the mesh and floats, was used to target the stocked barramundi in the dam.
The part of the net recovered by them and shown in the photo has now been disposed of and will never be a threat again to the sooties and barra of Eungella Dam. Any anglers visiting Eungella Dam to sample the great sooty fishing there are asked to keep an eye out for any illegal activity such as netting and to hand in to the resident SunWater ranger any net found in the dam. It’s a sad thing when a community effort at stocking a dam has to be spoiled by some bastard with a net.
1) Rob Foot holding up the part of the gill net he found.
2) The MAFSA recently released around 21,000 more sooty fingerlings into Eungella, and these should reach 300mm or so in the next 12 months.Reads: 813