Trout cod

 

Trout cod. Photo: Gunther Schmida

 

Trout cod is listed as an endangered species under both national and NSW legislation, and any fish caught must be released immediately, preferably without removal from the water.

 

Because Trout cod was only recognised as a distinct species (to Murray cod) in the last 40 years, some aspects of its biology and behaviour remain unanswered.  It was first found in the Macquarie River nearly 200 years ago. Although it can grow to over 15 kilograms and 850 millimetres, adults are commonly less than 5 kilograms. The key features that distinguish Trout cod from Murray cod are a dark stripe through the eye, a blue-grey (as opposed to yellow-green) speckled body pattern, and an overhanging upper jaw.

 

Trout cod prefer deep pools with instream cover such as snags and boulders, although in some rivers where they exists along with Murray cod, they tends to occupy slightly faster flowing areas, further out from the bank. Their diet consists of small fish, shrimps, yabbies, dragonfly larvae (mudeyes) and aquatic insect larvae. Adults will migrate between 20-60 kilometres before returning to their home snag.

 

Trout cod used to be widespread in the southern Murray-Darling Basin, but now only three self-sustaining populations remain in the wild. Its eagerness to take a bait or lure has contributed to its dramatic decline, together with desnagging, introduced fish (including Redfin), increased sediment deposition in rivers and cold water released from dams (cold water pollution).  The good news for Trout cod is that State Water announced in early 2012 that cold water pollution from Burrendong Dam would be rectified within 2-3 years. 

 

Macquarie perch - follow this link

 

Photo: Gunther Schmida

 

 

Looking after our threatened fish

 

Call 1800 RIVERWATCH (which is also 1800 748 379)

if you see someone taking these species from the river illegally.

 

Alternatively call the Fisheries hotline for this purpose 1800 043 536 or click on this link to report an incident on-line

 

TIP:  TAKE SPECIAL CARE IF YOU CATCH ONE OF THE ENDANGERED OR THREATENED FISH SPECIES.  RELEASE THEM UNHARMED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, PREFERABLY WITHOUT REMOVING THEM FROM THE WATER.

The Macquarie River has several fish species that are listed under either NSW or Federal legislation as threatened or endangered.  These include Trout cod, Murray cod, Silver perch and Freshwater catfish. 

 

Of these species only Murray cod (see below) can be taken by anglers, and this is regulated by NSW Fishing regulations - make sure you know these!  Go to 'Make sure you know the rules' for more information.

 

Murray cod. Photo: Gunther Schmida

 

It's also important to NOT target Murray cod during their closed season (1 September to the end of 1 December) when they breed. Go to 'Don't catch Murray cod in the breeding season' for more details.

 

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The five Golden Rules to make sure your fish survives

 

1. Use circle hooks or crush barbs on hooks. If a fish is gut or gill hooked cut the line as close as possible to the fishís mouth rather than removing the hook.

 

2. Hanging fish vertically by the jaw or gills will put extreme pressure on their spine and gills and is likely to cause injury or death to the fish. When lifting fish always support the belly and avoid holding the gills and eyes.

 

3. Remember - if retrieved from depths greater than 10 metres fish may suffer barotrauma (they'll look inflated) from the expanding gases in their internal organs. If suffering barotrauma itís important to return fish back to depth quickly! Propel fish head first back into the water or use a release weight if the fish cannot return to depth without assistance.

 

4. Use knotless 'enviro' style landing nets so that your fish does not lose its protective coating of slime! This layer of protective slime keeps all the nasty organisms and bacteria off the fish.

 

5. Remove hooks swiftly and swim your fish as soon as possible to ensure its survival! A fish will only survive, without damage, for as long as you can hold your breath! Donít keep fish out of the water for more then 30 seconds!

 

 

 

Silver perch

 

Silver perch. Photo: Gunther Schmida

While historically widespread over much of the Murray-Darling Basin (apart from the upper reaches), Silver perch has now declined over most of its range.  The three main reasons for the decline of this species are the disruption of migratory and breeding patterns as a result of dams, weirs and flow patterns, the impacts of carp and redfin, and cold water released from the base of large dams.

Silver perch can grow to 8 kilograms and 50 centimetres, although commonly specimens are less than 2 kilograms and 35 centimetres.  They prefer similar habitats to Golden perch and Murray cod Ė lowland, slow-flowing rivers.  

Silver perch are omnivorous, preferring aquatic plants, snails, shrimps and aquatic insect larvae. The species migrates upstream in spring and summer to spawn, often forming large schools.

Silver perch is listed as a threatened species in NSW, and any fish caught must be released immediately.  However, the species is widely stocked in farm dams and reservoirs, and fishing in these waterbodies (such as Lake Burrendong) is permitted, subject to size and bag limits.

Freshwater catfish

 

Although Freshwater catfish (Eeltail catfish) are usually less than 2 kilograms and 50 centimetres, they have been known to reach nearly 7 kilograms and 90 centimetres.  Preferring slow-flowing streams and lakes, the species spawns in spring and summer when water temperatures reach 20-24 degrees. Unlike the other catchable species in the Basin, Freshwater catfish form a nest consisting of an oval depression, constructed mainly from pebbles and gravel, which is guarded by the male. It is a carnivorous species, eating shrimps, yabbies, small fish, snails and aquatic insects, and feeds mainly at dusk and in the early evening. Freshwater catfish is also a relatively sedentary species and rarely moves more than 5 kilomtres.

Historically Freshwater catfish were widespread throughout the Basin, although most riverine populations have declined dramatically in the last 40 years.  Several threats have contributed to this decline, including barriers to movement, cold water discharges from large dams, increased salinity, changes to natural flow patterns, and the impacts of Redfin and Carp (which is thought to destroy nests due to its bottom-feeding behaviour).

In the Macquarie River it is illegal to catch Freshwater catfish, although it may be taken from stocked private dams and Lake Burrendong.