Goulburn Valley Fly Fishing Centre
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Goulburn Valley Fly Fishing Centre

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Click for full size image:.
Large area cleared of willows below the Breakaway Bridge
Photo1: Large area cleared of willows below the Breakaway Bridge

 
Logs and roots have been left to provide fish habitat and to stabilise the banks
Photo 2: Logs and roots have been left to provide fish habitat and to stabilise the banks

 
Strategic placement of rock groynes has added significantly to fish habitat
Photo 3: Strategic placement of rock groynes has added significantly to fish habitat

 
Under water placement of rocks supported by stone give fish shelter from predators and strong currents
Photo 4: Under water placement of rocks supported by stone give fish shelter from predators and strong currents

 
Section previously un-fishable just below the Breakaway Bridge
Photo 5: Section previously un-fishable just below the Breakaway Bridge

 
Fencing off of the banks will protect plantings and erosion caused by cattle
Photo 6: Fencing off of the banks will protect plantings and erosion caused by cattle

River Improvement

Finally monies derived from Angling Licences are being directed at improving our trout fisheries.

At the moment there is a great deal of money ($165,000) being dedicated to removal of willow trees along the banks of the Goulburn River near Thornton. 

There has been an immediate effect. Large areas of river bank that were previously inaccessible can now easily be reached. This has increased the ability of fly fishers to get to the water and also get access to otherwise impossible drift lines, glides, reverses, runs and many other spots trout love to hold in. As the willows matured they leant out across the water, eventually collapsing in, blocking up the river with a vast tangle of submerged and semi submerged branches. Each of these would shoot a mat of fibrous roots into the water creating further growth of the blockages. The removal of these willows has cleared extensive sections of riverbank. See Photo 1. 

Fish have already moved in to occupy the new prime feeding positions created by the clearance. The butts of the willows remain, as do the matted roots that hold the banks together. These root systems are dead so there is no chance of them sprouting new growth. However some willows have been strategically left to provide shade and shelter for the fish. All the natives were left as well as large areas of new plantings. Also planted were shrubs and grasses to compliment the native tree placements. These have been fenced off to protect the regenerating vegetation. Cattle have been excluded by this fencing and this will greatly help the improvement of these newly opened up areas. See Photo 6.

The planting of native trees will not only help rejuvenate the river bank but will significantly add to the food available to the trout. Willows are not renowned for their abundant insect life. Native gums however do attract large numbers of terrestrials, many of which will end up on the water. While obviously the new food source will not be of a huge volume it will no doubt add to some improvement of the fishery. The return of native trees to many sections of the river will herald the return of the fish to the banks in many of these previously choked up areas. 

Not only are the willows being removed, fish habitat is being improved by the strategic placement of logs and other structure. In consultation with local guides and fishermen submerged habitat in the form of logs and also rock groynes have been placed to provide quality trout lies. Rock groynes set on an angle to deflect the current have created all sorts of interesting seams, backwaters and bays See Photos 2,3,4. Much of these banks would have been featureless and not attractive to trout if it wasn't for the thoughtful placement of these obstacles. Further improvements in fish habitats will include in-stream placements of boulders to produce areas of pocket water. Turbulence created by pocket water helps to lift and roll the silts and gravels providing spaces for nymph life and other sub aquatic trout food. It also provides trout with high quality lies where food, shelter and oxygen are abundant. 

This project will have significant benefits for all anglers with a lot more fishable water and better in-stream habitat. Just fencing off the banks will provide a lot of long term benefits with cattle being kept out and riparian foliage allowed to grow back. Areas of newly accessible river bank include the large bends below the Breakaway Bridge, sections along the Thornton back road to Eildon, the side branches of the river at Gilmore's Bridge and at Newman's near the Pondage. Other smaller sites can be found all along the river, so be prepared to be surprised by good works aimed at improving our fishery.

 

 

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