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.

There was movement aplenty on the Snowy River last week with the release of a significant environmental flow from the Jindabyne Dam. The equivalent of 3,200 olympic swimming pools of water was released in a single day.

Close to the NSW border, McKillops Bridge became temporary home to rafts, canoes and kayaks as paddlers keen for adventure navigated the river and it’s rapids downstream to where the Buchan river joins the Snowy.

The local wildlife was also out in force with platypus foraging, water dragons basking in the sun and birds of prey kept busy feeding their young.

Further downstream, scientists from the Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI) spent the week monitoring nutrient levels flowing down the river. The project, administered by the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (EGCMA) and funded by the Victorian State Government, is looking to determine what positive effect the nutrients are having on the wetlands and estuary.

Dan Stoessel from ARI said “If the nutrients are not coming down at the appropriate time then you don’t get all of the ongoing benefits for the fish so it’s important that these events occur, especially in the Spring.”

Graeme Dear, CEO of the EGCMA said,  “The Water Plan for Victoria provides for long term investment in waterway health that also improves the recreational value of our rivers for people like last weeks kayakers.”

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.