Recently Fisheries Victoria held its “Perch search” on the Glenelg River in South West Victoria. The purpose of the event is allow for the collection of running ripe Estuary Perch that are used as brood stock to produce EP fingerlings for stocking. Previous research has shown that the most effective way to collect these fish is to enlist the help of experienced lure anglers who catch the fish as this minimises the trauma of the collection as opposed to other methods such as netting or electro fishing. The fish are held in the angler’s boats tournament live well, then transferred to special holding pens, before they are sorted by fisheries staff, packaged and then flown to the breeding facility in Narooma NSW. This is the 6th time the event has been held and through the work of the project over 500 000 Estuary perch fingerlings have been stocked in 12 different water ways throughout Victoria since 2012. Being a slow growing species it will take time before successful fisheries are established but indications in some of the waterways are showing that the program is beginning to bear fruit.
With heavy overnight rain before the first day of fishing, in conjunction with an already discoloured and high river, 7 boats and 15 anglers hit the river with the hope of finding some perch. With the prevailing conditions everyone was a little on edge about the success of this year’s venture. It was with great relief that only after a few casts my fishing partner, Dan and I had both put a perch in the live well. The next half hour produced a small mulloway, a bag of 5 bream as well as another EP of around 40cm and the trepidation of the morning was now well behind us. At the end of the day over 100 EP were swimming happily in the fisheries holding pens, including plenty of big females in the 38-41cm range. Day 2 still produced fish despite the flow of dirty water from upstream increasing, not as many perhaps as day 1, but some bigger fish in the 40 to 46cm range. A 46cm fork, 48 full length fish taking out the Graeme Taylor memorial shield as well as a beautiful Daiwa reel donated by Steve from Parkers tackle in Colac, for the biggest fish of the weekend. Graeme was a founding member of the “search” and is fondly remembered by the team through this trophy, even if the emphasis of the weekend is team work to contribute to a great cause. Even with the dirty water most fish were still taken off edges with the deep schooled fish reluctant to bite. Soft plastics fished from the edge to about 2m from the edge, produced the most fish with a few being taken on deep diving hard bodies.
In the end Fisheries had around 200 perch to select the prime specimens from to send to the hatchery. A total of 84 fish made the flight and are now hopefully happily producing a new generation of fingerlings ready for stocking.