Lake Jindabyne – January 2018

 

Fishing has been very patchy and from a fly fishing perspective the number of fish being sighted around the margins is probably lower than its ever been in the time I have fished the lake.

redfin carnavor

Here are a couple of snippets of information from the draft minutes of a meeting of the NSW COUNCIL OF FRESHWATER ANGLERS INC in November 2017.

The first snippet headed “Monaro” provides the first acknowledgement that I have seen that alludes to why trout fishing in the lake has declined in the last 6 years.

The second snippet headed “Pumped Hydro” adds to my concerns for the lake. Since the Snowy MKII upgrade was muted I have been expressing my concerns about redfin being introduced to our trout lakes and I have said that redfin in Jindabyne could be the last nail in the coffin of trout fishing in Jindabyne but surprisingly quite a few people I have had that discussion have argued that Jindabyne is not included in the development and consequently there is no chance of redfin finishing up in Jindabyne because of it. I still thing they are wrong and if you read the paragraph highlighted in bold below looks like that is a concern for the NSW Council of Freshwater Anglers as well.

Monaro

Steve Samuels reported that Over the last three years trout numbers and size have been increasing in Monaro streams (east of Cooma) . These streams had been devoid of fish due to the millennium drought and are now every bit as good as in the 1970s and 1980s. Rainbows and browns up to 4lb have been caught in quite small creeks. Regularly fishers can average six fish per day, all over 3lb. In some of the other rivers brown trout up to 8lb have been caught.

The streams are managed by MAS while in contrast the snowy lakes are managed by the Snowy Lakes Management Committee and DPI Fisheries.

Lake Eucumbene is fishing reasonably well.

Tantangara Reservoir is not stocked but is fishing consistently very well.

Jindabyne Dam has not been fishing well for about six years.

Likely, the poor fishing started when water was held back to be diverted for environmental flows into the Snowy River. The lake was usually kept at about half full, with good weed beds and good fishing. However, now the average volume of water in the lake is 89%, almost continually full. The lake shore is largely barren sandy beaches. The weed beds appear to have gone. The rainbow spawning run up the Thredbo River was poor again this year.

Pumped Hydro

Steve Samuels is working closely with Snowy Hydro to raise concerns of recreational fishers that have arisen due to the proposed pumped hydro project.

The feasibility study is nearing completion. It is expected to say that pumped hydro is feasible but at such and such a cost.

Steve is confident that the study will address the serious issue of pumping redfin from Talbingo dam to Tantangara dam

(and then to lakes Eucambene and Jindabyne).

Snowy Hydro is very aware of the economic benefits of having a viable trout fishery in the snowy lakes area and therefore, the threat to the fishery of introducing redfin during pumping.

Snowy Hydro has conducted research to try to detect redfin DNA in Snowy lakes. Preliminary results indicate that redfin are present in Talbingo lake but not in Tantangara lake.

The feasibility study will be considered by Governments and a decision will be made to go ahead or not go ahead. If the project goes ahead selected recreational fishers (and other groups) may have an opportunity to provide input into the draft Environmental Impact Study document. When the EIS is released the wider body of recreational fishers will have an opportunity to provide submissions.

The topic of environmental offsets has been discussed with Snowy Hydro. They already provide offsets to local communities when Snowy Hydro work is carried. The offsets would continue in perpetuity until pumped hydro ceases to operate.

One offset that MAS would seek is to close Providence Portal for say five years to be absolutely sure that Tantangara remains redfin-free. The water flow from Talbingo can be screened and monitored to exclude redfin but there the is always a remote possibility of contamination in those first years of operation. Later, some screening could be applied to the portal.

Another environmental offset is the consideration of a financial benefit to the fishery. The offsets may not happen but this is the approach being taken by MAS. Angling is a significant driver of the economy of the Snowy Lakes region and MAS is looking at the long view of how to best counter the threat of redfin infestation of the Snowy lakes and of the devastating effects on the local communities.

Currently, the Tantangara fishery is the best of the Snowy lakes by a long way and has the most to lose in the short term.

Screening technologies are important to prevent the translocation of fish and eggs in both the pumping and the generation cycles of the pumped hydro proposals. Screening of vast amounts of water is a significant technical problem involving new technologies (eg ionisation and electrocution). MAS will continue to work with Snowy Hydro to ensure that the concerns of anglers and of the communities are heard.

There are other smaller sites around NSW where pumped hydro may be considered and the Snowy project could provide a base for regulation of pumped hydro schemes.

Screening of irrigation pumping is also a significant issue for anglers but getting the irrigators to pay for screening is probably a bigger issue.



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