Regular Bass tournament angler Brad Clark contributes to restocking Lake Somerset during a recent release.
Regular Bass tournament angler Brad Clark contributes to restocking Lake Somerset during a recent release.

Ideal conditions to fish

IMAGINE a population of 4.7 million fish, less than an hour’s drive from Ipswich, to target during your holidays.

It sounds too good to be true.

But if you are a regular freshwater angler visiting Somerset or Wivenhoe dams, that’s the exciting prospect on offer over the festive season.

Dedicated Somerset and Wivenhoe Fish Stocking Association (SWFSA) committee members and volunteers have released an incredible 4.7 million fingerlings into both popular fishing spots since 1998.

While thousands of fish have been caught and consumed by natural predators over the years, the Somerset and Wivenhoe lakes retain massive stocks of hard-fighting fish like bass, golden perch, silver perch, cod and saratoga.

The tremendous efforts of SWFSA (formerly Brisbane Valley Fish Management Committee) officials – working with government bodies – ensures the Ipswich region has one of Australia’s premier freshwater fishing locations.

But more importantly, it’s continuing to develop.

SWFSA treasurer and life member Bunny Qualischefski is delighted with three recent releases which have capitalised on pristine stocking conditions.

During the first release on December 10, 74,900 golden perch fingerlings were let go in Wivenhoe Dam. Another batch of 32,050 is coming in the new year.

On December 11, a remarkable 373,176 bass were set free in Somerset Dam.

The latest release on December 18 featured 226,800 bass going into Wivenhoe Dam.

Qualischefski praised committee members and volunteers who used the high water levels to advantage.

“It was the best conditions we’ve ever had,” said Qualischefski, who has been with the stocking program since it started in the 1980s.

“Normally you need boats to shift them. But when you’ve got conditions like that with water levels up at 100 percent, it just makes it so much easier.”

Qualischefski said the water was also “as clean as a whistle” and rich in food supplies.

“You’ve got a bloom of some sort of weed on the surface that makes it ideal coverage,” he said. “And you’ve got all the fresh grass underneath. The food in there would be out of all proportions.

“They (the fingerlings) will grow twice as quick.

“It (the fishing resource) is just getting better and better.”

While the latest batch of fingerlings came from Bundaberg and Beenleigh, the Yamanto hatchery continues to produce stocks for the future.

“They’ve got fingerlings out there at the moment – yellows and silvers,” Qualischefski said of the Ipswich complex.

“We’re still learning.”



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