Victorian mulloway movement mysteries revealed

Jake Dowdy with a prime Victorian mulloway.

VICTORIAN recreational fishing licence fees are funding a two-year study by the Nature Glenelg Trust that is revealing amazing secrets about the movement of mulloway in and between rivers, bays and beaches.

Aquatic ecologist with the Nature Glenelg Trust Lauren Brown said volunteer fishers had tagged nearly 500 mulloway in the Glenelg (308), Patterson (34), Hopkins (23), Yarra (25), Barwon (17) and Moyne (2) rivers, and six beaches at Portland, Geelong, Western Port.

“Over 80 tagged mulloway have been recaptured so far, seven fish twice and another, tagged in November 2018 in the Glenelg River, has been recaptured three times,” Brown said.

“More than half the recaptures (55) have been in the same estuary the fish was initially tagged and released in, and the greatest distance travelled was in the Glenelg River where a mulloway swam 24km from town bridge to Saplings Creek in 90 days.

“In August, a 105cm tagged mulloway was caught in the Glenelg River. It was originally tagged at 89.5cm back in December 2018 near the Glenelg’s mouth. The fish had grown 15.5 cm in 217 days, which is the second fastest growth rate (0.07 cm per day) observed in the Glenelg so far!

“In January 2018, a 45cm tagged mulloway was caught 10km from the Hopkins River mouth. The fish was caught again in December 2018 at 62cm, having grown 17cm growth in 11 months. In February, the fish was captured a third time a few kilometres further upstream at 70cm. That’s 8cm growth in just two months!

“On Melbourne’s doorstep, a tagged mulloway was caught at the mouth of the Yarra River. It had been tagged more than a year before in the Patterson River. In its 427 days at liberty, it had grown 14cm from 66 to 80cm.

“This is the second mulloway to move from the Patto to the Yarra’s mouth and represents the only ‘between estuary’ movements documented in the study so far.”

Ms Brown said the study’s success was in large-part thanks to the keen involvement of several fishers like Tim Murrell who’d tagged nearly 100 mulloway in the Glenelg River over six months.

“Michael Gordon and Aron Coleman have also been busy in the Glenelg tagging 49 and 32 respectively.

“In the Hopkins River, Shane Murphy has tagged lots of fish whilst Reece Cliff, having only joined early in 2019, has tagged 13 fish in the Patterson River including the largest in the study at 120cm.” she said.

If you catch a tagged mulloway, report it by emailing noting to record the date, tag number, location of capture and length.

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