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They’re biting in Menindee

Saturday, 12th September, 2020

Geoff Looney put his shot of the fine pair of Golden Perch he caught this week on his Facebook page “Menindee NSW Outback Photography” where he also publishes his photos of birdlife on the lakes. Geoff Looney put his shot of the fine pair of Golden Perch he caught this week on his Facebook page “Menindee NSW Outback Photography” where he also publishes his photos of birdlife on the lakes.

By Craig Brealey

Better conditions have resulted in more native fish in the river and migratory birds on the lakes, says former Menindee wildlife tour guide Geoff Looney.

“People have been catching fish from Weir 32 right down to the Main Weir,” Mr Looney said.

“We had a couple of days of 30-plus degrees and the water is less muddy,” he said.

“In a couple of hours I caught five fish and threw two back. The other one was a carp that I killed.”

Mr Looney’s bag included a couple of Golden Perch and a small Murray cod that he also returned to the water. 

The river and two of the lakes have filled and the native fish are still trying to recover from the mass kill disaster in the summer of 2018/19. 

Mr Looney said fishing folk were keeping that in mind and following the rules.

“Last week there were quite a few people catching fish, but you have to be conscientious and think about the size of them. 

“A lot of people are doing ‘catch and release’.

“Five fish is the limit for one day and they have to be over 30 centimetres long. 

“You are not allowed to fillet them; they have to be kept whole so they can be measured, and you cannot have more than ten in your possession.”

For decades Mr Looney has been taking photographs of the birds that visit the lakes and, at long last, he was seeing the return of some from Europe and Asia.

“I’ve seen the wood sandpiper as well as the sharptailed sandpiper, which is from Russia,” he said.

“There’s about half a dozen but in the next three or four weeks there might be two or three hundred.”

Pamamaroo was attracting plenty of human visitors but for the wading birds Box Hollow, behind Copi, was the best habitat now because it had the sedgebanks where they liked to feed, said Mr Looney.

Government these days regard Menindee lakes as nothing more than a water storage when it has for tens of thousands of years been a refuge for native fish and animals and a lifeline for migratory birds.

“The Menindee lakes are in a temperate climate and are very important half way station for birds on their way north from Victoria. They will feed like mad here for a fortnight for their journey. 

“A lot of wetlands in the world have been lost or are slowly disappearing.”

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