All About the Bass!  with Steve "Tenpin" Bolin, YHQLD

Stocked Impoundments

Greetings fellow Yak Hunters!

A lot of us take for granted that we can mosey off down to our local dam and more than likely hook up to a trophy Bass or two. Have you ever thought where these trophy fish come from and how did they get into this water way? 

Aussie Bass do not breed in dams, they spawn in estuaries around July to September and their eggs sink down and become trapped in seagrass which helps protects them from predators. The eggs require brackish water with a percentage of salinity to transform them to larvae after a few days. Several months later, the surviving fingerlings head upstream searching for the sweet water, but due to nearly all our coastal estuarine systems on Australia’s East Coast from around Bundy southwards now having weirs and barriers, our little mates can travel no further. There are some weirs with Fish ladders, but these are few and far between. 

OK, so how do they get into the Dams…good question! 

Victoria, NSW, and also here in QLD we pay a set fee to our state governments for a yearly freshwater fishing licence. 

This allows us to fish in waterways that have been stocked with fish that have been purchased using funds from our licence fees aka SIP (Stocked Impoundment Permit). 

Most of these funds go to around 70 odd community-based groups here in Qld who keep around 60 waterways stocked with bass and other native Aussie fish. Several other Yak Hunters and I are members of the Ewen Maddock Fish Management team here on the Sunny Coast, and we look after the stocking of Ewen Maddock and Baroon Pocket Dams. 

Up until a few years ago these dams were not on the government's lists of stocked impoundments and all the fingerlings that were purchased each year were all from money raised from membership fees, raffles, comps, and the ever-popular sausage sizzle’s (and a bit of begging as well). 

It was hard work, most of us had full time jobs and fundraising was always a struggle when you also need time for families, fishing, and all other commitments. 
The love of Bass fishing kept us all going, and we were all relieved when finally, our application for being on the Stocked Impoundment Scheme was accepted. Yeeharrrr!!!! No more begging. 

The SIPS funding we now receive is based on the total surface area of the waterways that you stock. 

For example, Somerset/Wivenhoe stocking association get a lot more funding than us as they have a huge surface area, and on the other side of the coin Lake Dyer has a smaller surface area and their stocking group gets less funding than us. For every dollar we receive around 4 Bass fingerlings are purchased. We get these from specialist hatcheries with Hanwoods at Murgon being our group's major supplier. Fingerlings are ordered around June/July and are grown ready for release around Dec/Jan. 

The hatcheries deliver the fingerlings which are about 25-30mm long in tanks with oxygen rich water keeping them healthy for the trip to the dams. The fish are then decanted into containers or bags and stocking group members and friends paddle out to different areas of the dam and release them amongst the weed giving them their best chance of surviving. Several years later the survivors will have grown to legal size.  Being a slow growing fish, these Bass are the tough one’s with survival of the fittest sorting them out. 

There are different growth rates for different waterways dependant on the amount of food that is available for them. When you catch (and hopefully release but you can keep and eat if you like) the magical 50cm model you are holding in your hands a 15-25 year old fish maybe even older.  There are even records of a 47 year old wild Bass captured in the Genoa river so they can live a long life. 

So, that’s how we get Bass and other native fish into our stocked impoundments and other waterways. Check out your local stocking group and buy a raffle ticket or a snag at one there fundraising BBQ’s or even join your local group and get involved. Even a hello and a thumbs up keeps us all feeling worthwhile and proud. All funds raised and funds received from SIPS go to purchasing the fish, creating fish habitat and creating safe areas to launch our watercraft.
Copyright ©2019 Yak Hunters Australia, All Rights Reserved.