Representatives from Australian Trout Foundation, VR Fish and local fly fishing groups are liaising with North East and Goulburn Broken CMAs to monitor trout populations in creeks across the north-east and high country.
North East CMA CEO Katie Warner said trout, introduced from the northern hemisphere, were cold-water fish.
“With the ongoing extreme heat we’ve been experiencing, the temperature of the water in waterways such as Howqua, Delatite, Buffalo and parts of the Ovens River have increased and this is affecting fish, particularly trout,” Ms Warner said. “While we had some quite heavy falls in some parts of the north-east last month, many other areas have had little or no rain which means some creeks and rivers have no or very low flows.”
After the extreme heat of last week temperatures of around 30C were reported in sections of the lower Howqua River and parts of the Ovens River. Trout health is affected once water temperatures get above 20C.
ATF President Terry George said fishing groups recognised the importance of improving riparian (river bank) vegetation to improve water quality and temperature.
“This is why organisations such as ours have been working with the CMAs for a number of years now on a range of projects to improve the health of popular recreational fishing sites,” Mr George said. “These shrubs and trees provide valuable shelter and help keep the water cooler for all fish and wildlife. Where this work has been done, we’re less likely to see stressed fish as there are cool, deeper pools for them to move to.”
Ms Warner said more rain and run-off were the only ways to improve current flows and reduce water temperature.
“We hope there is some decent rainfall and cooler temperatures on the horizon although the Bureau of Meteorology is predicting below average rainfall and hotter conditions for the rest of summer.”
Anglers can help by not targeting fish during extremes of weather. Please see VR Fish’s & ATF’s Helping Trout in Hot Weather brochure at: https://www.vrfish.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/VRFish_Trout_Posterweb.pdf for more information or ATF’s Facebook page.
Fish deaths should be reported to the EPA Hotline on 1300 372 842. Details can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Goulburn Broken and North East CMAs are continuing to work with urban and rural water authorities the EPA, fishers and other agencies to monitor water conditions across the catchment.
Grants for recreational fishing groups to carry out revegetation works are available through the Victorian Government’s Angler Riparian Partnership Program, Recreational Fishing Licence Trust and other funding programs as they become available. Contact North East or Goulburn Broken CMAs for more information.
Information on river and stream flows can be accessed via the Bureau of Meteorology’s website www.bom.gov.au