Catch results a sign of healthy river
Asignificant catch of highend predatory native fish in Jeparit’s annual Easter fishing competition has continued to reflect a significant turnaround in the health of the lower Wimmera River.
Anglers weighed in more than 100 fish during the Saturday contest, including a winning yellowbelly or golden perch that tipped the scales at 3.581 kilograms.
Horsham’s George Alcock caught the fish near Hindmarsh Ski Club on a stretch of river that a decade ago that was so stressed from conditions caused by drought that it was devoid of recognisable life.
Mr Alcock pocketed a $2000 cash first prize for his fish.
His catch finished ahead of a string of other big yellowbelly, which after release into the river rely completely on a complex ecological food chain in the waterway.
Dallas Oakleigh from Dartmoor was second with a 2.892kg fish, Blue Mcintyre, Horsham, was third, 2.843 and then Dale Stephan, Nhill, 2.698 and Mathew Walker, Horsham, 2.494.
Nellie Nossack of Nhill won a junior competition, taking home $500 cash and a swag thanks to a 2.191kg yellowbelly.
Apart from the fish they weighed in, anglers caught many more undersized fish, including carp, redfin, silver perch, catfish and even a couple of bass.
As part of catch-and-release requirements of the contest, all native fish went back into the river.
Increase in entries
Event secretary-treasurer Paul Holmes said entries for the annual contest were up on last year, with more than 450 anglers registering to fish for prizes.
“It was a great success. We were about 30 to 40 entries up on last year and there were many smiling faces. Everyone I spoke to had a really good time,” he said.
“We promote the contest as a family event and a lot of kids turned up. We had 130 showbags to give away and we ran out.”
The Weekly Advertiser was the primary sponsor of the event that ran from 7.30am to 3pm between Jeparit boat ramp and ski club in ideal autumn conditions.
Jeparit’s population swelled during the weekend with anglers, some who had travelled as long as five hours to take part, making the most of an opportunity to camp on the banks of the river.
Mr Holmes said Jeparit came alive with the influx of people and the event continued to grow.
“It’s just getting bigger and bigger. We’re always open to how we can improve things and will have a debrief next week. It is unlikely we will be changing too much apart from seeing whether we can attract more sponsors,” he said.
A study into the value of water has revealed the Wimmera River contributed $4.7-million to the regional economy in 2017, with fishing competitions providing major boosts.
The study suggested last year’s Jeparit contest generated $144,000 for the region.