It’s the world’s worst kept secret that the outlets of local power stations are fertile fishing sites.
The water is warm all year round and fish love it.
It may be a little less obvious that power stations suck fish into their cooling ponds via inlet channels and that fish get stuck in the system and over time proceed to grow prodigiously due to ideal warm water, mountains of food and pretty much zero predators.
Once the fish got too plentiful the practice in the past has been to net them and dump them.
But in a new approach sure to bring PR smiles to everyone involved, including the fish, a new approach has been developed where they drain the ponds and canals, collect the fish into tanks and then release them throughout the lake in strategic spots.
It’s happened at Vales and Lake Munmorah power stations, and in the next month or so, Eraring is about to go through the process.
It’s nearly 15 years since the last cleanout and estimates put the looming haul at over 10 tonnes, with mythical tales of 50cm bream and tarwhine, huge luderick, metre plus tailor – and no shortage of them.
A reliable source this week with intimate knowledge of Munmorah Power station raved about the monstrous size and number of flathead, tailor and prawns lurking in their cooling ponds.
Mark “WIlba” Williams lives for fishing, writes about fishing, and since retiring from his job as an environment officer at Vales and Munmorah power stations, works part-time in the fishing industry.
Wilba has witnessed these cleanouts and says that the fish are legendary.
“I was over at Eraring yesterday [Wednesday] and the maintenance signposts are up,” he said.
“The fish they will be putting back in the water will be incredible. You’re likely to see 2kg-3kg bream, 10kg tailor, huge flathead.
“They are basically locked in there. No one can fish them because of security, so they live healthy lives and grow huge. Jurassic Park stuff.
“I remember working at Vales and the fish were basically a captive audience in their big acquarium and they lived a good life with people feeding them hot chips everyday at lunch.
“The bream were like piranha with probably the highest chip-induced cholesterol levels you’d ever find.
“Plus there was plenty of prawns to feed on.
“It will be an awesome thing to see.”
Aim for Sunday
The long weekend is going to get off to a reasonably average start weather-wise, with windy, rainy and generally crappy conditions forecast for today and tomorrow.
Sunday is shaping up well though, and in Lake Macquarie, don’t be surprised to get onto tailor, jew, bream and whiting.
Wilba, who is active in the statewide DPI mulloway tagging program, reports plenty about, including a PB lake specimen that went 95cm recently.
“The local jewie guys I know have been going well,” Wilba reported.
“Flathead have been a bit slower than last year. Guys are catching them but not as prodigious as last year.
“I’m hoping it will pick up over the next two or three months.
“There’s been some big tailor in among the salmon and whiting are showing up and I expect they should really kick into gear after the October prawn run, due in about a week and a half.
Offshore has been a bit quiet since the marlin and yellowfin sightings a fortnight ago, but Wilba’s good mate Scott Thorington has been getting into the kingfish off Terrigal lately.
DPI gets app-y
A new app called FishSmart NSW released by DPI gives recreational fishers 24/7 access to up to date information on where and how to fish as well as full details on rules and regulations.
“We know that NSW is home to some of the best recreational fishing and we want to make sure that our fishers are equipped with all the information they need before heading out on our waterways,” Minister for Primary Industries, Lands and Water, Niall Blair said.
“This free, easy-to-use app will give fishers access to a range of data such as bag and size limits, spearfishing information, fishing safety and useful guides for reporting illegal fishing.”
Funded from the Recreational Fishing Trust, the FishSmart NSW app has been developed by NSW DPI to ensure fishers have a more informed fishing experience by linking them to the latest news and information.
Users can also view the location of FADs (Fish Aggregating Devices), artificial reefs and Recreational Fishing Areas and real time maps of Marine Parks across NSW.
There’s a mountain of material that can be downloaded including fishing rules, fish species, weather, tides, moon phases, barometric pressure and other key fishing data, as well as regional fishing rules and a pictorial guide to identify NSW fish species.
The FishSmart NSW app is now available on iTunes, and will be available through android and Google Play shortly.