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Anglers say river flows affect cod

Recreational fishermen blame environmental flows in the Goulburn River for the poor start to the Murray cod fishing season.

LAURA GRIFFIN February 4, 2014 4:12am

Recreational fishermen blame environmental flows in the Goulburn River for the poor start to the Murray cod fishing season.

Boats & More Shepparton retail manager Damien Bennett said local anglers as well as those visiting the Goulburn Valley were disheartened when the Victorian Murray cod weren’t biting when the Victorian Murray cod fishing season opened on Sunday, December 1 and for the next few weeks.

Mr Bennett reasoned environmental flows caused the river level to rise and its temperature to drop, which caused the cod to go off the bite.

‘‘It was very difficult to catch Murray cod,’’ he said.

He said the environmental flows were good for the long-term prospects of the iconic fish species, but if they were poorly timed, whole fishing seasons could be ruined.

Mr Bennett was concerned local anglers were going outside the Goulburn Valley to fish and tourists were not coming in, which had implications for his business as well as for the wider community, including accommodation providers, food outlets, service stations and other stores.

Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority chief executive Chris Norman said the authority considered recreational fishing when timing environmental flows

‘‘In response to feedback from anglers after the 2012 environmental flows that the fish don’t bite when the river is falling, the recent flows were timed so they would be flat or just starting to rise for cod opening 2013,’’ Mr Norman said.

He said water temperature was monitored and the Catchment Management Authority believed air temperature had a greater effect on river temperature than environmental flows.

For example, at Shepparton river temperature monitoring showed river temperature was steady during November 30 and December 1 as the flows started increasing and only started falling during the cold snap on December 4 and 5 when the maximum air temperature fell by 17°C, from 35°C to 17°C.

The corresponding drop in water temperature was only 2°C even though flows were still rising at this time.

He said environmental flows were not the only reason river heights changed — rainfall, and requirements to meet demand for irrigation water, also affected river height.

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