True Tales of the Trout Cod:
Wimmera & Avoca River Catchments History

Picture of the Wimmera River 1845

Some very large eels, caught in Lake Boloke, where they abound were taken into Ararat for sale a few days ago. Two of them, which were in vigorous condition, and over six feet in length, were placed in the municipal water dam, where possibly they may breed. In some places along the Wimmera the subsidence of the late flood has left scores of blackfish and trout high and dry upon the banks. Amongst these was observed a fish somewhat smaller than the blackfish, though larger than the native trout, which appeared to possess, to the minutest degree, all the characteristics of English perch.

Argus, 3 October 1867

Wimmera River

The earliest newspaper accounts indicate that the largest native fish present in the Wimmera River were Blackfish and eels. In 1864 a flood was reported to have ‘destroyed large numbers of blackfish’ in the Wimmera River near Ararat (Argus, 7 July 1864) and eels and Blackfish were mentioned as present in the river in another article (Argus, 4 July 1879). Another account also reports the presence of eels, Blackfish and a small ‘native trout’ (galaxiids) and a small perch which were probably Pigmy perch (see Argus excerpt above).

Avoca River

In March 1870 ‘500 Murray cod and trout’ were captured by the Murray River Fishing Company near Echuca and transported to the Avoca Acclimatisation Society for release into the Avoca River (Riverine Herald, 9 March 1870) indicating that both Murray cod and Trout cod were released. A later account reported that other species were translocated stating that ‘cod, perch and bream fry’ had been released (Argus, 14 April 1873). By 1873 small cod were being taken near Avoca and a Golden perch was taken at Natte Yallock in 1873 (Argus, 26 February 1873). Later translocations included nearly 400 Macquarie perch from the Goulburn Weir to the Avoca River in 1927 (Cadwallader, 1981).

Around the time of the initial translocation activity, the Great Flood of 1870 occurred. A newspaper account recorded the arrival of large numbers of ‘bream’ in the Avoca River which had gained access via Lake Boga (see Argus excerpt below).

Simultaneously with the supply of young fish introduced from the Murray to the Avoca River by the local Acclimatisation Society (says the Mail), a very remarkable introduction of young bream to the river has taken place. The fish are apparently the genuine Murray bream, and have found their way, most probably, from Lake Boga, during the last winter floods. At Natte Yallock the young fish, about three inches long, are so plentiful that anglers for blackfish are constantly hooking young bream in unorthodox fashion, that is by the hooks when drawn up attaching themselves to their backs or fins

Argus, 20 April 1870

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Feature photo: Picture of the Wimmera River 1845 painted by Duncan Cooper