My brother Robert and I are long term members of Lakeside fly fishing club; Robert also being a member of Monaro Acclimation Society and living part time in the Jindabyne region.
We are both passionate trout fly fishermen concerned for the future viability
of our sport. Over the last decade we all have noticed a steady decline in the amount of fish, particularly rainbow trout in the Monaro region in general.
Another concern is the increasing amount of sand particularly in the Thredbo River, damaging spawning gravel river beds; the levels of sand being the result of the devastating bush fires over a decade ago.
Sand extraction companies have indicated that they would pump sand out of the river at no cost and possibly a small royalty could be obtained. One such location to remove the deposits at minimum environmental impact would be Paddy’s Corner.
The traditional rainbow trout spawning run in early spring has become relatively non existent in recent years, by comparison to say a decade ago.
What are the reasons for this considerable reduction in fish numbers?
Recently while on a fishing trip to the Ebor region our group visited the Dutton trout hatchery and were shown around the extensive facility. A very helpful person answered many questions and advised that all the rainbow trout released in the NSW rivers and dams were produced at that hatchery.
It appeared that mature rainbow stock held at the hatchery are stripped of milt and eggs to produce the fish that are then released at various ages by fishing clubs and also sent to Gaden Hatchery for their release program.
Why are so many of the rainbows in particular, not living to maturity? I have heard 1 in 1000 survive to that stage. Is it the method of release and their age at that time or are such factors as being spawned from hatchery and not wild trout that has an effect?
We all know that rainbows are easier targets for cormorants and predators other than brown trout. Maybe rainbow and brown trout should not be released until they are older to obtain a more acceptable chance of reaching maturity.
Also releasing fish in broad day light at boat ramps with cormorants present, seems a contributing factor to the very low maturity rate of these fish.
Surely releasing fish at numerous places on the rivers and a higher percentage released at night would increase the maturity rate. I am sure many of the fishing clubs would be happy to assist in the distribution of hopefully larger say 25 to 30cm trout.
The fishing industry is of major importance to the tourist industry and the economy in general in the high country regions of NSW. Something must be done to rectify the current situation.
Alan and Robert Steege
Update: Robert and I attended the Jindabyne DPI Trout Strategy Workshop on the 17th May. Ninety people attended, 75% of whom were recreational anglers each with up to sixty years experience fishing for trout in this region.
The DPI recognises that fish numbers, particularly Rainbow Trout and also current stocking practises require review.
The department has employed a number of scientists to assist this study, they tended to blame a lot of the problem on climate change.
The fishos who spoke talked about current stocking practices, particularly the release of fry and fingerlings which has a very poor success rate. Generally the consensus of participants wanted larger say 25-30 cm fish released and controlled releases including night time to allow a greater chance of survival.
Gaden Hatchery were not in favour of a change in release times, saying the costs of night time releases were prohibitive and the weaker fish would be the ones at most risk.
It’s difficult to predict the outcome of this trout strategy, money is being provided by DPI, so hopefully there will be some positive results.