DARTMOOR anglers are rejoicing after improved environmental flows and large-scale restoration projects along the Glenelg River boosted catches of estuary perch and bream.
Large numbers of the fish have moved upstream into the freshwater habitats near Dartmoor, giving many anglers their best ever catches of the species.
Dartmoor Angling Club president Ricky Owens is among the anglers revelling in the fishing.
“You don’t have to be Einstein to work out that the improved fishing in the Glenelg is on the back of improved conditions and flow in the river,” Mr Owens said.
“A lot of the freshwater fishing around Dartmoor is bank and canoe accessible, and the bream and perch are great sport fish,” he said.
Stephen Ryan from the Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority (CMA) said fish numbers in the Glenelg River at Dartmoor had previously declined when the river stopped running on occasions, forming a series of disconnected pools.
“This creates barriers to fish migrating into the freshwater reaches,” Mr Ryan said.
But with improved flows, local anglers like Martin Doll are targeting areas that in the past didn’t hold fish.
“I have been away from Dartmoor for five years with work, and since returning the fishing has been unbelievable,” Mr Doll said.
“Growing up in the area I have fished the river at Dartmoor,” he said.
“I have listened to stories from the old guys saying that if you are lucky, you might catch a perch or a bream.
“But now you would be unlucky not to catch one.”
Mr Ryan said estuary perch and bream migrated into freshwater habitats in the right conditions. The CMA said while most of the estuary fish species were being caught around Dartmoor, some had also been caught as far north as Casterton and beyond, with some species migrating up to 140 kilometres upstream from Dartmoor.
“Estuary perch and other estuary reliant species have been recently surveyed in and around the Harrow township, and every year they move further and further upstream,” Mr Ryan said.