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Water for the Environment Update: Summer 2023

The value of a wet spring is clearly on show with a growing number of keen anglers taking to social media to share their love of the region’s top fishing and yabbying spots.

Campbell Stasinowsky with a Golden Perch he caught in the Wimmera River in January.

FISHY FACTS

The Wimmera River system’s indigenous fish are generally be divided into two communities:

  • Upper catchment – River Blackfish, Obscure Galaxias and Southern Pygmy Perch
  • Lower catchment – Australian Smelt and Flat-headed Gudgeon.

There are non-indigenous native Murray River species, including the large-bodied Freshwater Catfish, Golden Perch, Silver Perch, and Murray Cod. These native fish have been translocated or stocked into the system, largely for recreational fishing, for many decades. Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) also releases large numbers of these angler-target species.

Continuing to build the Wimmera’s fish stocks

Indigenous fish breeding events are complemented by fish stocking carried out by the VFA. For more information on the type and location, search for Grampians fish stocking at www.vfa.vic.gov.au.

Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research in collaboration with local anglers has recently completed a Wimmera Native Fish Management Plan which aims to increase:

  • The diversity and resilience of native fish.
  • Regional investment in fish management.
  • Angling opportunities.

Wimmera fishing comps & Expo

Horsham, Jeparit and Grampians Lakes Fishing Competition are planned, and give a great insight into the fish caught in the region. Follow their Facebook pages for the latest updates!

Wimmera angling clubs also host regular fishing competitions, and are a great place to start if you’re keen to wet a line!

SUMMER FLOWS

Waterways

Small base flows and ‘freshes’ in stretches of the Wimmera River, Mt William Creek, McKenzie River and Burnt Creek will maintain water quality and connectivity between areas and support healthy fish populations.

Nathan Koenig and his son Bryce from the Just My Luck Fishing YouTube channel are among anglers who appreciate the work that goes into managing the Wimmera River, including releases of water for the environment to complement natural flows and support fish populations.

“The environmental flows for the Wimmera River are important for each and every community along its banks. Fresh water and flowing rivers help the native fish spawn to ensure great fishing for years to come. Fishing in the Wimmera River draws people to the region and in turn creates more tourism dollars for our local businesses. A healthy river helps drive healthy tourism.” Nathan Koenig

Wetlands

Wetlands are being monitored to determine if any environmental flows are required over the next few months.

Want to be updated on flows?

Wimmera CMA offers an SMS service to let people know when and where environmental flows are occurring, what they aim to achieve, and flow rates. To sign up, send an SMS with the word ‘Register’ and your full name and locality to 0427 871 565 or email wcma@wcma.vic.gov.au

Wimmera CMA is a proud sponsor of the Fishing Competitions in the Wimmera and it’s no different for the Annual Jeparit’s Easter Fishing Competition.

Not only are fishing comps great community events but they also help remove a lot of carp from the Wimmera River!

Want a few extra tips on catching carp?

Here are Chris Denton’s 7 tips on how to catch carp from the Wimmera River.

Why do we focus on Carp?

Carp are an introduced species originating from East Asia and have spread across most of the Murray Darling Basin since the 1960’s and have become a major pest. Carp are commonly found up to about 4-5kg, but some carp caught have been known to be up to 10kg.

Carp are a very adaptable fish and are capable of tolerating a range of environmental living conditions, including very poor water quality.  Whilst they are capable of tolerating these condition, their natural habits also decrease water quality.

Their diet includes a variety of small food items including bottom and swimming insects, microcrustaceans, snails and terrestrial insects.  But they will eat whatever is available including plant material and organic matter when other food sources are not available.

Carp feed by sucking up debris from the ground and filtering out the food items from the mud and water with their gill rakers. This action muddies the water which can cause bank erosion, it blocks out sunlight from plants and other fish, it lowers water quality, disturbs native fish breeding sites and increases nutrient levels, which can contribute to blue-green algal blooms.

Wimmera CMA is a proud sponsor of the Horsham Fishing Competition. It’s not only a great community event but it also helps remove a lot of carp from the Wimmera River.

The Horsham Fishing Comp has helped remove over 1750 fish over the last 6 years greatly helping to reduce their impacts and improve the Wimmera River quality and our native species.

Carp catching Tips

Chris Denton is an avid fisherman and loves to come to the Horsham Fishing Comp. Here are Chris’ 7 tips on how to catch carp from the Wimmera River.

Why do we focus on Carp?

Carp are an introduced species originating from East Asia and have spread across most of the Murray Darling Basin since the 1960’s and have become a major pest. Carp are commonly found up to about 4-5kg, but some carp caught have been known to be up to 10kg.

Carp are a very adaptable fish and are capable of tolerating a range of environmental living conditions, including very poor water quality.  Whilst they are capable of tolerating these condition, their natural habits also decrease water quality.

Their diet includes a variety of small food items including bottom and swimming insects, microcrustaceans, snails and terrestrial insects.  But they will eat whatever is available including plant material and organic matter when other food sources are not available.

Carp feed by sucking up debris from the ground and filtering out the food items from the mud and water with their gill rakers. This action muddies the water which can cause bank erosion, it blocks out sunlight from plants and other fish, it lowers water quality, disturbs native fish breeding sites and increases nutrient levels, which can contribute to blue-green algal blooms.

Big and small, the Wimmera is home to them all

Wimmera waterways have a long history as premier fishing destinations. The region is home to major fishing competitions in Horsham and Jeparit, and the emerging Northern Grampians and Dimboola fishing comps. People also love to wet a line in tributaries and distributaries like Mt William Creek at Mokepilly or Yarriambiack Creek at Brim.

During the past decade, improved conditions through fencing off and revegetating riverfronts, environmental watering and a dedicated fish stocking program have helped turn around the region’s waterways, plus increase the number fish that live in them.

From Golden Perch, Murray Cod, River Blackfish and Freshwater Catfish to teensy tiny native species like Flathead Gudgeon, Southern Pygmy Perch and Australian Smelt – with a community partnership approach to management, the Wimmera River and the creeks and lakes that are connected to it are sustaining native fish species, even when conditions get tough.

What can we do better?

We want our fish to thrive! We are angling for your ideas to develop the Wimmera Native Fish Management Plan.

Priorities include but are not limited to:

  • Improving fish passage and connectivity
  • Reducing the impacts of invasive fish species
  • Improving habitat on riverbanks and in waterways
  • Improving fish stocking programs
  • Conserving our endangered fish species
  • Tailoring environmental flows to support fish populations
  • Managing the impacts of increased angling

Throw us a line

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples across the region and pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this website may contain images of people who have died.