Spawning slaughter leads to early closure calls

TROUT anglers are calling for earlier closures of spawning streams in NSW following reports of illegal fishing, angler overcrowding, aggressive behaviour and littering at the Eucumbene River prior to the official season closure. 

According to a report Fisho received this week, concerned trout anglers have expressed disgust at incidents they witnessed during what has become commonly known as the annual “spawning run slaughter”.

It has been reported that unethical fishing methods such as “jagging” i.e intentionally foul hooking fish, keeping undersized fish, and disregarding bag limits was commonplace in the lead-up to the season closure. “Upsizing” of fish was apparently a common method for ensuring only bigger fish were kept – Fisho understands that in many cases smaller released trout died as a result. A bag limit of one fish per day (over 50cm) applies at this time of year. 

These reports have also led to criticism of NSW Fisheries management, specifically in relation to the number of Fisheries Officers available to patrol the state.

One witness reports seeing anglers urinating in the Eucumbene River where they stood, so as not to lose their bankside fishing spots. There were also reports illegal camping was left unchecked and litter and human waste was prevalent near the river.

These reported incidents have led to renewed calls from anglers for a full closure of the Eucumbene River from May 1. As it currently stands, NSW DPI laws classify the Eucumbene (and Thredbo) Rivers as “Trout spawning streams” – From 1 May to the end of the June long weekend these waters can be fished only with artificial fly and lures, using one attended rod and line per angler with up to 2 hooks with artificial flies or lures. Gear rigged for bait fishing is prohibited. (More details available at NSW Fisheries website at:

Steve Samuels, President of the Monaro Acclimatisation Society Inc. told Fisho he visited the Eucumbene River this year, following reports of similar unsavoury incidents prior to the closure of the 2012 trout season.

“The illegal fishing is a concern. Our effort to protect the fish from over exploitation by having a one fish (50cm plus) bag limit is now backfiring as the unscrupulous merely upgrade with a bigger fish and dump the other one in the river or up the bush (if the proposal to limit anglers to one Murray Cod comes to pass up grading will occur for this fish too – the trout experience indicates this).” 

“I also saw a group who had an esky hidden away in the bush. Trouble was that mobile phone coverage is not available so to get in touch with Fisheries is difficult and for the four days I was there I did not see a Fisheries Officer.”

Samuels said that the illegal fishing was confined to a small group of campers and he did see plenty of anglers from Kiandra to Anglers Reach “doing the right thing”.

“I watched over twenty anglers fishing … and release over 30 fish in an hour and every one of them did the right thing – now this may have been from peer pressure as there were so many anglers there, but it was well mannered and orderly,” Samuels said.

Fisho understands the illegal activity witnessed on the Eucumbene River has been reported to NSW DPI. We will keep readers updated of any official response.

Did you fish the spawning run at the Eucumbene (or Thredbo) River this year and did you see any illegal fishing take place? Let us know. 

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