It’s been all about the Bass on the rivers of East Gippsland recently. The Australian Bass that is.

Last week saw the release of 10,000 Bass fingerlings into the Nicholson River at Deptford  as part of a project undertaken by the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (EGCMA), the Victorian Environmental Water Holder, Bairnsdale RSL Angling Club and Victorian Fisheries Authority.

The release compliments the stocking of 454,000 Bass across 19 rivers and Lakes throughout Victoria, including 95,000 Bass into the Snowy River in recent weeks.

“We’ll always put our hand up to look after the health of our fishery.” said Russell White, President of the RSL Angling Club. “Bass have been a scarce fish to target in the past. We want to be able to help in some small way, and if down the track that means our kids can catch a fish then even better.”

Australian Bass rely on spring floods to trigger spawning and migration. The Nicholson Dam (below Deptford) creates a barrier that the Bass cannot cross. This project; and previous stocking of Bass in the river by Victorian Fisheries Authority, is keeping a good population of Bass in the river while we consider how to address the dam barrier impacts.

“Angling clubs are passionate about fishing and the environment and are actively involved in looking after fish stocks.” said Travis Dowling, CEO of the Victorian Fisheries Authority. “It’s great that we can work with the EGCMA and the angling club to look after our environment and our fishery as one.”

“The Water Plan for Victoria recognises the value of our rivers and waterways to our community’s wellbeing.” said Graeme Dear, CEO of EGCMA, “Partnering with others such as our local angling clubs and the Victorian Fisheries Authority is exactly what the Water Plan is about.”

This project compliments the State Government’s commitment to delivering its $46 million Target One Million plan for recreational fishing, which aims to grow participation to one million anglers by 2020.

Healthy fisheries need healthy habitat – that was the message at the East Gippsland Fish Habitat Forums held at the Marlo and Nicholson Angling Clubs last week.

Organised by the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (the EGCMA), the forums were a good opportunity to discuss the state of the regions fisheries and have a yak with mates. Fishing legend ‘Bushy’ Busch fielded questions about local fish including Estuary Perch and Bass, discussed the benefits of catch and release and talked techniques specific to fishing the waterways of East Gippsland.

EGCMA CEO Graeme Dear was on hand to kick off the Angler River Health Grants with a total of $50,000 available to angling clubs who want to get involved with improving a patch of river in East Gippsland. The grants will give local angling groups the ability to work directly with the EGCMA on the river banks and surrounds that are important to them.

“Angling clubs are amongst the most active users of our waterways; they have completed fencing and revegetation projects in the past, been involved in water quality monitoring and in running kids education days” said Mr Dear. “Having people who love their rivers and fish is an advantage for us. By working together we can improve river health and ultimately get better fishing.”

Angler River Health Grants are an initiative of the Water Plan for Victoria and also compliment the State Government’s commitment to delivering its $46 million Target One Million plan for recreational fishing, which aims to grow participation to one million anglers by 2020.

We acknowledge the traditional owners of country throughout East Gippsland and pay our respects to them, their culture and their Elders past, present and future.