Catch re­sults a sign of healthy river

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY DEAN LAW­SON

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.

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