‘It was this big’: Pondage barramundi grows to six kilos

Surveying of Hazelwood Pondage’s recently-stocked barramundi has discovered growth rates comparable to Australia’s best tropical barramundi fisheries.

A survey last week captured 20 stocked barramundi, the biggest of which weighed more than six kilograms.

Fisheries Victoria executive director Travis Dowling said the exceptional growth was exciting news for freshwater anglers hoping to chase a barramundi in Victoria.

Eighteen barramundi measuring about 33 centimetres were stocked into the pondage in September last year, following a successful acclimatisation trial.

These were followed in April this year by three size classes consisting of 1000 fingerlings at 5cm, 500 fish at 10cm and 100 larger barramundi at 30cm.

“We believe the six largest barramundi surveyed last week, including the thumper over 6kg, were all from the first small stocking in September 2015,” Mr Dowling said.

“Nine of the barramundi surveyed were around 50cm and from the recent stocking of 30cm size class fish in April.

“These growth rates are comparable, if not better, than some of Australia’s best tropical barramundi fisheries.”

Mr Dowling said the results indicated that stocked barramundi, in particular those released as larger fish, had thrived in the pondage and had grown exceptionally well.

“The pondage’s unusually warm water, combined with its abundant population of exotic prey-fish, appear to have provided barramundi with an ideal home away from home,” he said.

“The performance of the stocked barramundi has been monitored with leading fisheries research methods including acoustic tagging and listening stations, water temperature loggers and electro-fishing.”

Stocking barramundi into the pondage was part of the State Government ‘Target One Million’ plan which aims to grow recreational fisher participation to one million anglers by 2020.

Recreational fishing in the pondage remains closed until at least 20 October to enable further fish surveys to be conducted.

Fisheries Victoria and a working group of anglers, the land owner and Latrobe City Council are looking at ways to ensure the fishery is well managed prior to re-opening, including facility upgrades, fisheries enforcement and education, and usage rules so everyone can enjoy the waterway.