Australia’s first legal trout cod fishery

We witnessed something pretty special in August last year when the Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews and the Minister responsible for fisheries, Jaala Pulford officially opened the recreational trout cod fishery at Lake Kerferd and Lake Sambell near Beechworth in North East Victoria.

Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister Jaala Pulford releasing trout cod

In recent decades, State and Commonwealth governments along with recreational anglers have started to rebuild trout cod populations through stocking and habitat restoration efforts. Recreational licence fees have been used to stock trout cod into these lakes since 2008 with the intention of creating a put and take fishery for anglers to catch, as opposed to a self-sustaining population.

The official opening implemented part of the National Trout Cod Recovery Plan and is one of the key initiatives of the Government’s Target One Million policy to get more people fishing, more often.

We have plenty of examples where the ability to legally catch and keep a fish has been taken away. This is a real example where a fishery was re-opened and angler access was reinstated This is a great outcome for recreational fishers and the fishing related tourism benefits will be significant.

Soon after the opening, VRFish received numerous calls from interstate fishers that can’t wait to catch a trout cod from these stocked fisheries.

Trout cod are threatened in the river systems and will remain closed to recreational fishers. Importantly, these stocked impoundments will not impact wild populations and new controls were introduced to ensure the resource is shared between fishers.

Distinguishing Murray cod from trout cod can be done by referring to these signs.

In partnership with Native Fish Australia, VRFish ran a survey of fishers about their expectations for the fishery. This information showed fishers would love to be able to go out and catch trout cod and take their kids fishing (most of whom may never have seen or caught a trout cod before).

Keeping in mind that most anglers will choose to carefully return any legal size trout cod to these waters, it was a common response that the key objective for the fishery should be the continued recovery of the trout cod populations. The survey information was used by Fisheries Victoria, to help set a minimum size limit of 40 cm, a maximum size limit of 50 cm and a catch and possession limit of one fish per angler.

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