Brook Trout Escapees in the Rubicon River

As we draw towards the end of the 2018 trout season, history has again repeated itself on the banks of the Rubicon River. Social media has lit up in the past few weeks with reports of anglers catching large quantities of Brook trout throughout the River.

Brook trout are an introduced species from North America that are currently only approved to be stocked into Lake Purrumbete by the Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA). However, the species is widely farmed in hatcheries across the state for its table qualities.

Since 2012, and generally around the same time each year, large numbers of fish have been liberated from a privately-run hatchery adjoining the Rubicon River. Rumour has it that early escapees were the result of an adventurous wombat digging his way through a holding pond!

Whilst many anglers may see these escapees as a bonanza, and experience red-hot fishing action in the proceeding few weeks, the potential long term effects that these unplanned and illegal releases may have on the sustainability of the resident wild brown trout population can’t be ignored. Brook trout typically does not coexist well with other salmonids. The VFA and trout anglers across the state have heavily invested in the ‘Wild Trout Fisheries Management Plan’ to ensure the future sustainability of the fishery, and continued releases could undermine all the hard work put in to date. History has also shown that greater fishing pressure on the area has raised enforcement issues for the VFA.

VRFish has fielded a number of enquiries over the past weeks from concerned anglers wanting action, and rightfully so. Unsanctioned releases of fish in our waterways (be it accidental or deliberate) is a major biosecurity risk and a threat to sustainable wild trout populations. We have raised our concerns with the VFA and expect any actions will be shared with the recreational fishing community, to provide reassurance that future breaches do not occur.

There isn’t any wondering why these fish feature on many anglers bucket lists. The Brook trout is a beautiful looking fish, they are dark green-brown in colour, covered with spots that may be yellow, orange or red, blue halos across their sides and a silvery white to silvery pink belly.

In the meantime, this is a great opportunity to get down to the Rubicon River with the kids and catch yourself a feed of tasty Brook trout. The resident wild brown trout will thank you for it! The Rubicon River is subject to special size and bag limits, which can be found here, so ensure that you fish responsibly and respectfully and follow all rules and regulations.

The 2018 salmonid closed season in Victoria is from midnight on Monday 11 June to midnight Friday 31 August.


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