Lake Burrendong‘s big Yellowbelly are just starting to wake from their winter slumber, and cruise onto the flats and points to feed and put on condition over the warmer months. The Redfin have been the stars of the show over the past month, with some absolutely huge numbers of fish around the 30-35cm mark being reported.
Water temperatures in most bays are still hovering around the 13 degree mark, with 16 degrees seemingly the magic number that will see the Goldens fully spring to life, and start to feed aggressively.
Since the year 2000, almost 1.8 million native fish fingerlings have been stocked into Lake Burrendong, with Golden Perch, Murray Cod and Silver Perch being released.
Dollar for dollar stocking events by local fishing groups have seen 406,490 of the 1.8 million tipped in, whilst the remaining 1.34 million have been released by NSW DPI Fisheries.
Most anglers, when taking a fish, choose an eater between the legal size limit of 30cm and around 45cm, preferring to leave the large 50cm trophy fish to catch again, and ultimately breed to produce more fish for the future.
When fishing for Yellowbelly, fish that are hooked deeper than ten metres below the surface can often suffer a form of “the bends” much like a deep sea diver, called barotrauma. If releasing a large Golden, a release weight can be hooked on the fish’s jaw to return it immediately to depth, and will increase the survival rate remarkably.
Results of studies conducted by NSW Fisheries scientists around 2013 found that Golden Perch were vulnerable to pressure damage when they were angled from depth. They found post release mortality rates for Golden Perch captured from 2, 10 and 20 metres depth and left untreated were 0 per cent, 4.2 and 19.2 per cent, respectively three days after capture had taken place.
Fortunately for fish captured from 20 metres, mortality was reduced to 5.6 per cent if they were immediately recompressed, and returned to depth by using a release weight.