March 11, 2021

 

The most under utilised fisheries in the state..

Author - Robbie Alexander Fishing

If the town you live in has a small lake, or small pond, then chances are that it has been stocked with fish of some description by the VFA. (Victorian Fisheries Authority). 

A Merriwa Park Silver Perch. Silver Perch are protected in rivers, but in these lakes they are subject to a bag limit of 5 per person and a size limit of 30cm. 

Some of these small waterways are stocked with yellowbelly, many are stocked with trout in the winter months and now most of them are stocked with large amounts of Silver Perch as well. 

Many of these waterways are cherished fisheries in the cooler months when the trout are stocked, but under appreciated during the warmer months after the trout have all been caught out before the heat arrives. 

In my home town of Wangaratta, the prime example is Merriwa Park Lake. It is basically a small dam behind the Merriwa Park tennis courts that is used to provide water to the lawn tennis club. 

This pool small lake was the original Wangaratta swimming pool before the recently closed Olympic swimming pool was constructed in 1953. 

Since the levee bank was built years ago to prevent Merriwa Park from flooding, that pool has sat dormant as a breeding ground for mosquitoes and carp, and adored waterway of black ducks. 

These days it is a bustling inland fishery with easy access, no current, nearby toilets and amenities. There’s even BBQ facilities in the park to cook your catch. 

It is stocked with 200 yearling rainbow trout each winter for the school holidays, and during that time is a hive of activity. But once the trout are all caught the small pond is abandoned. 

Nobody cares about the 6,000 Silver Perch that have been stocked since 2017. That’s right… a whopping 6,000 Silver Perch have been stocked into that tiny waterway, and I have it all to myself. 

Even the dog walkers passing by that stop for a friendly chat are surprised when I tell them that I am catching Silver Perch. They have no idea that they are even in there, which I presume is the same story for many anglers in many towns, which is why I have chosen this very subject to talk about in this report. 

Pre Dawn at Merriwa Park Lake in Wangaratta. Merriwa Park Lake is stocked with rainbow trout in winter and Silver Perch for the warmer months. 

Wangaratta has Merriwa Park Lake, just like Beechworth has Lake Sambell, Chiltern has Lake Anderson, Harrietville has Tronoh Dredge etc… 

Here are a small few of the many small waterways stocked with fish annually across northern Victoria:

*Allan’s Flat Waterhole Yackandandah, Amaroo Lake Shepparton, Arburetum Dam Euroa, Merriwa Park Lake Wangaratta, Neanger Lake Bendigo, Lake Sambell, Beechworth, Stanley Dam Stanley.

Stanley Dam is one of the most popular small fisheries in the region, particularly in winter when the trout are stocked for the school holidays. It is also stocked with Silver Perch and Yellowbelly for the warmer months.

These are just a small handful of the many lakes in the region that are stocked regularly with fish. 

Here is a link to the VFA website where you can find a full list of all of the waterways that receive regular fish stocking. Is you local lake in there?

https://vfa.vic.gov.au/recreational-fishing/fish-stocking/db

Many of these lakes are stocked with both trout and native fish. I won’t go into the trout fishing now, I will leave that for the winter months when they are stocked and the water is cold. For now I will focus on fishing for the native fish. 

In the dams that I fish regularly, my preferred technique is to bait fish with light line and a really small hook. Usually I will use two fishing rods. One with a paternoster rig to fish on the bottom and the other with a bubble float rig to keep my bait suspended off the bottom. What I often find is that one rig will outperform the other and it varies from waterway to waterway. 

At the Eldorado Dredge Hole which is heavily stocked with Silver Perch. I catch a lot of redfin and the bubble float rig usually seems to out fish the paternoster rig. At Merriwa Park Lake where there are little to no redfin, I catch Silver Perch and the paternoster rig always outperforms the float. 

Holly Alexander caught this small redfin using a bubble float at the Eldorado Dredge Hole.

From my own personal observations, the yellowbelly tend to bite best during the low light periods of the day. I caught 2 yellowbelly while fishing for Silver Perch at Stanley Dam last week, both of which came well after sunset. 

The Silver Perch, which I have only caught from Merriwa Park Lake have all been caught when the sun is a bit higher in the sky. 

Even when I have caught Silver Perch in the Goulburn River I have noticed that they tend to bite well mid-afternoon before shutting down before sunset. 

So if you are heading to any of the many stocked small waterways, try using worms for bait on a really small hook and sinker, or float and if you’re targeting yellowbelly, make sure you fish until well after sunset. 

If you are lure fishing I would suggest fishing with any type of really small minnow lure. The type of minnow that you would use for redfin, and fish it nice and slowly. 

Right now I have a bit on my plate, but I am busting to get back out and explore more of these waterways that I have not yet fished, just reading the fish stock reports has got me excited to go off on a new small waterway adventure.