VRFish moves to “summer-proof” top trout fishery

VRFish, the recreational fishing peak body in Victoria is working with Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water to find a solution to address falling water levels at Lake Toolondo.

Lake Toolondo is recognised as Victoria’s premier trout fishery and trout numbers in the lake are significant. The lake is a unique ecosystem and is also home to a diverse population of native fauna. Historically, the fishery is known to be “boom and bust”, with previous stocking of the lake back in 2000.

The fishery provides an important source of income into local economies and is a tourism drawcard for anglers from South Australia to NSW.

Recognising this opportunistic nature, urgent actions are needed to safeguard the fishery and prolong the boom for as long as possible.

Lake Toolondo is one of eight major bulk water storage reservoirs that make up the Grampians head works system. Following the completion of the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline Project the lake’s operating level and transfer rules have changed and a 116,000 megalitre (ML) trigger for Rocklands Reservoir must be exceeded before water can be transferred into Toolondo. The current water level at Rocklands Reservoir is 95, 648 ML.

Due to excess water becoming available, sufficient water was transferred into the lake in 2011. Advice provided by VRFish at this time led the Minister for Agriculture instructing Fisheries Victoria to stock almost 100,000 brown and rainbow trout. The high productivity of the lake following a drying phase has resulted in excellent survival and growth rates evidenced by the abundance of trout above 1.5 kg.

Dallas D’Silva, VRFish General Manager said “This is a high priority for VRFish and we will continue to work with GWM Water and other agencies to see if we can negotiate an allocation of water to ‘summer-proof’ the lake.”

VRFish has managed to find a 5000 ML allocation of water for Rocklands Reservoir, however, the transfer costs and water delivery losses are extremely high and funds for this purpose are a major obstacle.

VRFish says it pushing for water allocations for iconic recreational fisheries such as Toolondo given higher recognition and water supply security.

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