Goulburn Valley Fly Fishing Centre
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Goulburn Valley Fly Fishing Centre

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Click for full size image:.
The current location of the net at the 200 metre exclusion zone
Photo1:Current location of the barriers that do not afford fish any protection from human predation

 
Close up of the Grills
Photo 2: The barriers themselves. Fisheries are adamant that only rounded aluminium bars be used to prevent fish damage.

 
The Pondage Gates
Photo 3: The normally flowing Pondage Gates that are now dormant to allow maintenance work to be carried out. 

 
The Foot Valves; the cause of all the fuss!
Photo 4: The foot valves through which trout can make their way into the Pondage. 

 
The Dragon's Teeth; where the new barriers will be put
Photo 5: The Dragon's Teeth; the site of the soon to be installed barriers that will give a favourable solution. 

River-Pondage Migration

Fisheries rise to the challenge and stop the possible slaughter of larger river fish stocks while the Pondage is low.

Thankfully it doesn't happen every year but it has this time around. Due to maintenance work on the Intake Tower, Power Station and the Pondage Gates into the river, the level of this popular stillwater has been dropped as low as possible. When the Pondage is at such levels and the river at riparian flow a unique phenomenon can occur. The fish can migrate from the river to the Pondage through the foot valves on the Pondage Gates. Large breeding fish will move out of the protected zone below the gates in the closed river and become target-able as they roam the emptied Pondage looking for a spawning site. 

Over the last few weeks the pressure has been put on Fisheries to prevent this movement of fish. The loss of highly valued fish stocks from the Goulburn into the Pondage had to be prevented and several groups voiced their concerns over the issue. 

The initial response was to fence off a shallow run with a barrier of chain, mesh wire and some purpose built screws held in store by MAFRI at Snob's Creek. A few star picket posts and chains completed the task. However the barrier was situated on the edge of the 200 metre exclusion zone below the Pondage and would therefore hold all the fish that will soon run exposed in the river in a shallow run where human predators would find them a very easy target. Make no mistake, the greatest threat to our fish stocks are from humans through either predation or or mismanagement by letting them get into the Pondage where they could be taken all year round.

After further consultation with Peter Grant from MAFRI we went to inspect the alternative solutions. When we arrived, Peter was already there inspecting the possibilities. As it was a Sunday, and Peters day off, we were impressed by his dedication to see the problem resolved. In the discussions that followed it was obvious that Peter was not prepared to see a temporary or unsatisfactory fix. 

Subsequently a set of screens will be installed between the 'Dragon's Teeth' or 'Dreadnoughts'. The concrete blocks that disperse the water across the apron below the Pondage wall. These screens will be made from aluminium bars, rounded so that the fish will not damage themselves as they would have on wire.

We will keep you posted over the next week or so!

Part 2 Below          

 

 

 

 

 

 
Click for full size image:.
Photo1:The grills as viewed from downstream
Photo1:The grills as viewed from downstream

 
Photo 2: The grills are made from rounded aluminium so that the fish will not be damaged when trying to get through
Photo 2: The grills are made from rounded aluminium so that the fish will not be damaged when trying to get through 

 
Photo 3: The side on view gives you some idea of the work and effort involved
Photo 3: The side on view gives you some idea of the work and effort involved 

 
Photo 4: Looking from the Pondage Gates gives possibly the most impressive view of all
Photo 4: Looking from the Pondage Gates gives possibly the most impressive view of all

 
Photo 5: These grills can be removed before the water comes up again in Spring allowing them to be stored away until the next time they are needed
Photo 5: These grills can be removed before the water comes up again in Spring allowing them to be stored away until the next time they are needed 

River-Pondage Migration

Last week the new grills were installed on the Dragon's teeth much to the delight of local and visiting anglers. 

The promised removal of the temporary barriers located just above the restricted zone in the area immediately below the Pondage gates has taken place. Early last week the work was completed and we should all applaud the willingness of Peter Grant and his boys to find a proper and adequate solution. 

The initial information gathered by them regarding possibly affixing barriers to these structures (Dragon's Teeth) was incorrect with those consulted saying it couldn't be done. They wrongly claimed the water was too deep there for the workers to get in. However after David got in contact with them and convinced them that their sources were unreliable Peter Grant went up on his Sunday and did some hands on work confirming that this was indeed the case.

Once this was established the wheels were set in motion and a more permanent solution planned. The significant cost of the materials ($8,000) was appropriated and the work was carried out without delay. While these costs are only a fraction of what the spawning stock threatened is worth, we were all impressed with the willingness to get the job done and would like to think that the Minister would find a way to return that money to Fisheries who do run on a tight budget. Alternatively Southern Hydro, the people responsible for draining the Pondage to repair and maintain their infrastructure should be footing the bill. 

The grills are made of rounded bar aluminium to prevent injury to fish that will try and move through them. The urge to move upstream is strong and if wire or any other sort of sharp material was used we would have a lot of damaged fish. The placement of the grills well above the surface prevents fish from jumping across the barrier. As the flow passes through the barrier fish do not try to jump as they would if it was a natural waterfall barrier. 

It is now very easy to view large numbers of big fish that are trapped between the new barriers and the Pondage wall. On a bright day you can see large black torpedo shapes cruising around and even rising. Some of these fish are estimated to be over 10 pounds. All of this instils confidence in us that finally true recognition of the value of the trout fishery is slowly being acknowledged in action as well as words.

 

 

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