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area cleared of willows below the Breakaway
Photo 2: Logs
and roots have been left to provide fish
habitat and to stabilise the banks
Photo 3: Strategic
placement of rock groynes has added significantly
to fish habitat
Photo 4: Under
water placement of rocks supported by stone
give fish shelter from predators and strong
Photo 5: Section
previously un-fishable just below the Breakaway
Photo 6: Fencing
off of the banks will protect plantings
and erosion caused by cattle
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.