The Winburndale Trout Muster

A TEAM of volunteers joined NSW Fisheries and OzFish members last weekend as part of a project to reestablish a population of Macquarie perch. The project aims to move trout from Winburndale Dam to nearby Portland where they will be released into the newly established Millpond Fishery.

In their place, it’s hoping a population of threatened Macquarie perch will be established.

Winburndale Dam is a small water supply impoundment in the NSW Central Tablelands in the upper Macquarie River catchment. It’s also home to an abundance of trout and is usually off limits to fishing.

Special permission was granted for volunteers to line fish, while NSW Fisheries has been using “electrofishing” equipment to stun and safely remove trout. Electrofishing has been a productive method in the small river above the dam where the majority of trout were undersize and were unlikely to be caught using other methods.

NSW DPI Fisheries endangered species manager, Luke Pearce, told Fishing World Winburndale Dam is an ideal location for the project.

“It has great habitat for Macquarie perch, and with no fishing, there are no accidental captures,” said Pearce.

Pearce also said a combination of the dam and stream, together with an absence of invasive redfin, make it suitable. Unfortunately, populations of Macquarie perch in the upper Lachlan catchment didn’t fare so well once the presence of redfin were detected.

“Winburndale is a good site being a stream and a dam. The strongest populations of Macquarie perch are in dams and it’s no coincidence in those places there are also no redfin,” he said.

Winburndale has received three Macquarie perch stockings for a total of 10,000 fingerlings.

While complete eradication of trout is unrealistic from the dam, Luke said it’s more about tipping the balance back in favour of the Macqurie perch, particularly during spawning time when trout compete for habitat and food.

The project is a win-win for fishos with populations of trout (majority brown) are being moved to a newly established fishery. Meanwhile, nearby, the inaccessible Winburndale Dam is an ideal site to reestablish a locally extinct species in the catchment of its namesake.

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