Friday, 22 June 2018 08:27

Fly fishers give Dargo a hand

Bairnsdale Fly Fishers Club, in conjunction with Fisheries Victoria, has stocked 20,000 brown trout eggs into the upper Dargo River. The Dargo River has traditionally been a trout fishery for over 100 years, but in recent times it has suffered from low water flows due to drought, warm water temperatures, which do not suit trout, bushfires and also the river has been the unfortunate recipient of fire retardant which has a detrimental effect on the fish and the insects that the trout feed off. The result of these adverse incidents has been a big reduction in trout numbers. With this in mind, the Bairnsdale club sought the support of the Australian Trout Foundation in an effort to be included in a special stocking trial that is currently being undertaken in some rivers in Victoria. Fisheries Victoria assessed the river recently and deemed it worthy of being included in the trial. The trial sees trout eggs harvested from Snobs Creek Hatchery in North East Victoria. They are then placed in Scotty Jordan incubators. These incubators are made of plastic and each box has 1000 holes. One trout egg is manually placed in each hole. A number of these boxes are joined together with wire and then placed in the river. The row of boxes are fixed to bankside vegetation and, as added security, wired to star pickets that are driven into the river. Large rocks are then placed over and beside the boxes to keep them in position and stop them being washed downstream. These boxes were loaded at Snobs by volunteers last Saturday and then placed in a large water tank on a Fisheries trailer. The eggs were then transported to the various trial rivers around the state and placed in their final destinations. When the Dargo eggs arrived in Bairnsdale on Tuesday, members of the Bairnsdale Fly Fishers Club met the Fisheries staff and accompanied them to the river.

They then assisted the staff to place the eggs in position in the river. They were placed in a position that water would flow over them but away from the main current where they could be washed away. The boxes will be regularly checked over the next couple of weeks to see if eggs successfully hatch out and swim away into the river. Past experience indicates that a hatch rate of 95 per cent could occur. Typically this takes two to three weeks depending on water temperature and the maturity of the eggs (eyed ova). The river will be surveyed by Fisheries staff early next year to ascertain the success or otherwise of the stocking. At this stage the youngsters should be about 30mm long. Depending on the success of the stocking and the conditions of the river in the next year or two, the trout should be takeable size within the next 1-2 years. It is hoped that a second stocking will take place next year. Hatchery stocking into Victorian rivers has largely been unsuccessful for a number of reasons. By stocking the eggs in the Scotty Jordan incubators, Mother Nature is being replicated. The eggs are protected in the boxes until they have eaten their egg sacs. They are then free to swim into the water, just like eggs that are naturally laid by trout. The young fish soon learn to look after themselves and learn to locate suitable food and be wary of predators. This is often not the case with hatchery-reared fish that have become reliant on humans for their needs. Bairnsdale Fly Fishers Club president, Trevor Stow, said the support and professionalism of the Fisheries staff was excellent and very much appreciated by the club. “Also, without the expertise and encouragement of the Australian Trout Foundation, this project would not have gotten off the ground. Our club looks forward to some great trout fishing in the Dargo River in coming years,” Mr Stow said.