EASY EATING: Our dams are favourite fishing grounds for both feathered and human anglers thanks to restocking programs.
EASY EATING: Our dams are favourite fishing grounds for both feathered and human anglers thanks to restocking programs. Graham Whelband

There is a dam lot of fish to be caught

FROM yellowbelly and bass to silver perch and saratoga, the fish are biting in our major dams and the freshwater fanatics couldn't be happier.

Far from draining the stocks down, the popularity of places like Wivenhoe and Somerset dams among anglers is feeding the system which has been responsible for putting more than six million fingerlings into our region's major water storages.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of dollars obtained through freshwater fishing permits is distributed to local fish restocking groups.

The groups then purchase fingerlings of various species and release them into dams and river catchments across the state.

Somerset-Wivenhoe Fish Restocking Association member Bunny Qualischefski said the difference that the Stocked Impoundment Permit Scheme (SIPS) system had made over the past decade was noticeable, simply in the numbers of fish being caught.

"We used to raise a lot of our own money through fishing competitions, but now with the SIPS program, 75% of what people pay for their permit goes back into restocking the dams," Mr Qualischefski said.

"What the funding has achieved has been an increase in the popularity of freshwater fishing - which in turn means more and more funds for more and more fish.

"Since the program started, we've gone through more than $1 million and released more than six million fish.

"The catch rate has increased - the fish are there for the offering."

The Ipswich-based restocking association released more than 83,000 bass, 74,800 yellowbelly, 75,700 silver perch in Somerset Dam and 36,000 bass, 70,000 yellowbelly and 136,000 silver perch into Wivenhoe Dam with the last round of funding.

More funding will arrive in time for a summer release of a similar magnitude.

Moogerah and Maroon dams haven't been forgotten, sharing in $26,000 in the latest round of SIPS funding.

Large numbers of fish have to be continually fed into the dam systems, because once inside, they are unable to reproduce.

Bass, for example, need to swim to brackish water, closer to Brisbane, to breed.

The restocking group also receives occasional funding to restock bass and saratoga into the Locker and Bremer catchments.

Saratoga are far more expensive and only small numbers are released, however they are able to multiply naturally in the creeks and rivers.



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