The natural flow of the Wimmera River has seen the weir in Jeparit flushed with fresh water, which has excited local fishermen and women.
The natural flow of the Wimmera River has seen the weir in Jeparit flushed with
fresh water, which has excited local fishermen and women.

When a natural flow that started in the Wimmera’s upper catchment a month ago arrived in Jeparit on Monday, the river’s final stop before it flows into Lake Hindmarsh, anglers were quick to get out their fishing rods.

Jeparit Angling Club President Rick Day said the people he’d spoken to were pretty excited and headed straight to the river to wet a line. He’d had reports of some ‘good fish’ caught in the fresh water which is filling the weir. “It’s magic isn’t it? To have this fresh water come through just puts everyone on a real high. It’s looking fantastic, it looks great,”

Mr Day said. Wimmera Catchment Management Authority said the natural flow peaked at 468 megalitres a day at Lochiel last Thursday night.

When the fresh water arrived at Tarranyurk south of Jeparit the next day, salinity dropped from close to sea water levels of 40,000 µS/cm to 1800 µS/ cm.

Rick said a few weeks ago the Angling Club was still discussing the possibility that next year’s annual Easter Fishing Competition wouldn’t go ahead.

But now, with a natural flow in the lower Wimmera River for the first time since 2012, it was ‘all go’.

The competition, which started in the 1980s, was put on hold during the 2000s then resurrected after the 2011 floods. It brings more than 500 people to the town each year, providing a major economic boost to businesses and community projects.

The competition has also raised $2500 for the Good Friday Appeal in the past two years. This winter the Club partnered with Hindmarsh Shire Council to build a new all-access fishing pontoon at the town boat ramp.

Rick said the project wasn’t quite finished but knowing next year’s competition was going ahead meant they would be able to raise funds for lighting and picnic tables.

“Having this natural flow fill our river means the Angling Club can start planning next year’s event with confidence it will be going ahead. This will put money back into our town, not only during the event but with what we raise for community projects.”

He said the flow on effect of a full river would be felt right through the town.

“We’ve got two new units at the caravan park which will get utilised and newcomers to the pub who will be pretty excited. The ski club, which brings people from other areas will be pretty excited as well.

“The river makes the town. The river is the town. To have this natural flow is awesome, we couldn’t ask for better,” Mr Day concluded.

In the upper catchment at Glenorchy, the daily flow rate has reduced to 78 megalitres and in Horsham 53 megalitres. The flow in Yarriambiack Creek, which started going over Jung Weir a week ago, has slowed to a trickle.

Wimmera CMA Chief Executive David Brennan said further rain was needed to increase flows in the Wimmera River which would then keep Yarriambiack Creek flowing. “We are hoping that the forecast, which shows possible rain this week, comes to fruition,” he said.

By Melissa Pouliot