YOUNGSTERS IN ACTION

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Over the past few months, students involved in the Connections – Fish for the Future program at Lara Secondary College have been learning about local fish stocking initiatives, recreational fishing guidelines, effects of introduced species, marine parks, commercial fish harvesting processes and various other marine and environmental issues. Of course, the program also aims to provide students with the opportunity to develop their angling skills, including learning to tie basic knots and rigs, the importance of bait presentation, casting and retrieving, correct release techniques (to ensure an undersized and/or unwanted catch has the best chance of survival) and the effects of wind, tide and current within an estuary environment.

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Our first field trip was held on the banks of the Barwon River estuary at Ocean Grove where small Australian salmon, yellow-eye mullet and King George whiting were taken on baits on peeled prawn and pipi presented on single dropper paternoster style rigs. The following week, students encountered several juvenile southern black bream during a visit to Spring Creek at Torquay. Again, the combinations of either peeled prawn, bread or maggots as bait and a light running sinker rig proved effected. Presentation is the key when fishing relatively clear shallow estuaries for bream (as well as many other species) and scaling down to just 3 lb breaking strain mainline and leader material and a No. 12 chemically sharpened hook increased the students catch rate.

During a visit to the Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre at Queenscliff, students learnt about the nearby marine park at Swan Bay, recreational fishing guidelines, and the role of fisheries officers, as well as some of the local marine life found with the local region.

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As part of Family Fishing Lakes stocking program, students assisted Fisheries Victoria with the release of 500 rainbow trout into St Augustine’s Waterhole at Waurn Ponds. Prior to the second and third term school holidays, more than fifty small waters dotted throughout the state receive a top up of advanced yearling rainbow trout, courtesy of Fisheries Victoria. These small waterways (normally less than 5 hectares in surface area) provide safe access for juniors and anglers with limited mobility.

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Our final field trip was help at Tuki Trout Farm, which is situated a few kilometers north of the township of Smeaton near Creswick. The purpose of this trip was for students to learn about and experience the process of catching, cleaning, cooking and eating their catch. Every student caught at least one rainbow trout and many volunteered to assist with the cleaning, cooking and serving duties in the kitchen.

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Lastly, a huge thank you to Berkley Australia for the generous supply of twenty Berkley Challenger rod and reel outfits and tackle kits for use during this program.

Brent Hodges