Fish numbers return after flood

The number of the highly prized and elusive blackfish continues to increase. Picture: Tarmo Raadik

The number of the highly prized and elusive blackfish continues to increase. Picture: Tarmo Raadik

CONCERTED efforts to build fish stocks in Benalla after a massive flood in 1993 decimated numbers in the Hollands and Ryans creeks have seen Macquarie perch and blackfish numbers increase tenfold.

Tatong Angling Club president Noel O’Connor said there had been regular stockings of 1000 trout at a time, while the Macquarie perch and the highly prized but elusive blackfish were now returning in numbers.

Mr O’Connor said after the 1993 flood there had been dead fish everywhere.

“It’s great that the blackfish have made a comeback,” he said yesterday.

“A lot of our guys are passionate about getting the Maccas (Macquarie perch) back.”

Mr O’Connor said his club, which has about 50 members, had been a driving force in the rehabilitation of Hollands Creek.

Member for Benalla, Bill Sykes, said a multi-agency effort to improve fish habitat in the creek had paid off with a dramatic increase in native fish numbers including the threatened Macquarie perch.

Dr Sykes said the rehabilitation had reinstated habitat, including rocks and snags, installed fencing to control stock access to the creek, and removed pest plants such as willows, as well as planting 3200 native shrubs on the banks.

“Since 2007 we have rehabilitated Hollands Creek to improve water quality and provide crucial habitat to support increased populations of Macquarie perch, two-spined blackfish and river blackfish,” Dr Sykes said.

Hollands Creek, which starts at Tolmie and flows through Tatong, is being monitored by scientists from the Arthur Rylah Institute attached to the Department of Environment and Primary Industries.

Dr Sykes said the monitoring showed the populations of Macquarie perch and blackfish had increased more than tenfold since the project began.

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