Lake changes in play

Recreational fishing boats of any length and engine size will be permitted on popular watering hole Blue Rock Lake under State Government changes aimed at getting more people fishing.

The lake’s longstanding speed restriction of five knots has been increased to 15 knots, with a five-knot limit remaining around the lake’s boundary, extending 50 metres from shore, to allow for kayakers and swimmers.

Water skiing and jet skis have not been banned as first proposed by Southern Rural Water, with the government insisting the 15-knot restriction will be a deterrent.

However, the move has some nearby residents worried some lake-users will see the changes as an opportunity to “push the limits”.

“At that point, the ambience of the lake is getting destroyed,” Willow Grove resident Phil Taylor said.

“We need to hear that the compliance will be absolutely to the letter.”

Mr Taylor said he was also concerned about the impact the changes would have on various bird species at the lake.

Environment, Climate Change and Water Minister Lisa Neville said the government would ensure strict compliance with the new rules.

“The message will get out pretty quickly that jet skis and water skis cannot use this lake,” Ms Neville said.

“We think the speed zone gets the balance right.

“(But) if we need to, we’ll revisit the issue about whether we need to ban it (water skiing and jet skis),” Ms Neville said, referring to the fact the new rules were a 12-month trial.

Future Fish Foundation director David Kramer said the changes represented the lifting of ‘old-fashioned’ restrictions.

“Twenty years ago, everyone had a ‘tinny’ and that’s what everyone went fishing in,” Mr Kramer said.

“It’s not the old blue-band Mercury (motor) that’s putting smoke everywhere and leaves an oil slick behind it, none of that anymore.

“They’re good, environmentally friendly boats and it’s not about speed, it’s about enjoying fishing.”

Mr Kramer said he also hoped the initiative would help get young people away from the TV screen or iPad and out fishing.

As part of yesterday’s launch of the new rules, 17 bass were released into the lake, 12 carrying special tags that will earn the successful fisher a voucher at a local tackle store.

Since 2002, more than 160,000 Australian bass fingerlings have been stocked into Blue Rock Lake, which is also home to a stocked population of brown trout and rainbow trout, along with a self-sustaining population of redfin.

“If there is a great bass fishery here, the anglers will respect it, they’ll look after the environment, because that’s the environment fish thrive in,” Mr Kramer said.

“If we don’t, we’ll work with Southern Rural Water to change things so we make sure we do.”

The government’s ‘Target one million’ plan aims to grow participation to one million anglers by 2020 and boost fish stocking from three to five million per annum.