As a branch of the Monaro Acclimatisation Society, Kydra Kybeyan branch is responsible for monitoring the health and where necessary stocking Rainbow and Brown trout in the Kydra River, Kybeyan River, the middle reaches of the Maclaughlin River, and the middle and lower reaches of Bobundara Creek.
On the opening day of the river trout fishing season,our Annual General Meeting and BBQ are held at the Kybeyan Hall commencing at midday.
New members are always welcome. The annual membership fee is $10 and may be paid at the season opening BBQ or sent to the Treasurer: Rob Edwards, PO Box 2, Nimmitabel NSW 2631.
All correspondence should be addressed to the secretary: Rod Whiteway, 9 Thompson Drive, Tathra, NSW 2550. Phone:(02)64945758 or email.
Kybeyan River and hall
The Monaro fishery is not back to its best yet, but rain particularly over autumn and early winter, has finally broken the drought and there is some fishing in some streams. From the rainfall figures you will see that we had 1101 mm of rain in the year up until July this year, the highest annual amount that I have recorded at Kydra since the 1195 mm in the first year of recording, 1988-89. But look at the table, rainfall over the previous four years was well below average, and this had a lingering effect on stream recovery. Rainfall was about the same in the first six months as the last, but most fell in late winter and early spring 2020, and a tapering off over summer saw streams struggling again. The reason was that springs had not recharged so that any rainfall led to a quick rise but there was a just as quick a fall. Finally though, good rain this autumn and early winter, some as snow, accompanied by cooler temperatures, saw groundwater levels rise to the point where paddocks became saturated, allowing stream levels to be maintained high between rain events. Things can change quickly of course, and not always for the better, but a couple of things give me hope for an extended period of trout friendly conditions. Firstly, the Bureau of Meteorology has forecast above average rainfall for spring/early summer in our region based on a couple of factors including a favourable Indian Ocean Dipole. Also, but to be honest less to be relied on, the couple of other times we have had 1000mm, the following four to five years have seen reasonable rainfall as well. Recent events also give cause for optimism. After a dry 8 weeks from mid-June we received nearly 100 mm late August and it is raining heavily as I write in early September.
The other climate factor effecting trout is temperature. Last year, by my reckoning at least, saw less debilitating heatwave conditions than in the previous drier years. Unfortunately with climate change higher air and water temperatures will be the norm in future. The Monaro and its trout are resilient, but MAS recognises the threat posed by increased temperatures and is working with NSW Fisheries to locate temperature loggers in Monaro streams. These were put out late last February, two going into each of the Kybeyan, Kydra, Maclaughlin and Bobundara. We downloaded data from them recently, and while six months data is of limited value it was enlightening to note how quickly water temperature responds to outside influences. For example how temperatures can vary from day to night, and how quickly a snow storm lowered temperatures. We have not yet had a chance to log air temperatures against water temperatures to see how responsive they are, but that will be interesting to see. We have been assured that the data collected will not be used to rule out streams as suitable for trout, but rather to allow us to, in conjunction with our local knowledge, adjust the timing and location of stocking in streams.
This discussion may be a bit convoluted, but it is important to understand where and when fish have been stocked because it bears directly on where and when there will be fishable fish. I covered the 2019-20 stockings in last years’ newsletter, but it is worthwhile reiterating, no fish went into the areas of the Bobundara or Maclaughlin that we stock. This means that at the start of last season there were to my knowledge, for practical purposes, no fish in these waters. In the Kybeyan and Kydra you will remember Fisheries carried out the stocking on our behalf, from memory in February, as they said that they had to get the fish out quickly because of the threat of high water temperatures in the Hatchery . They (brown fingerlings) were all put around the Kydra bridge and the Kybeyan crossing. I believe that many of these have survived in the Kydra, and an electro-fishing survey by Fisheries in the Kybeyan down-stream of the causeway last season found at least 1 of these fish already around 40cm. Last season stocking stepped up as water levels improved. Firstly, a stocking success story. Fisheries in October last year had a lot of rainbow yearlings left in the hatchery and offered them to us. From memory they were around 15cm and we stocked them right through the Golden Mile in the Kybeyan and downstream from Tracey’s in the Kydra. More later on these fish, but by April they were around 40 cm long and provided fun fishing in the late autumn. In November 2000 brown fry went into the top of Kydra and another 2000 into the mid section of the Maclaughlin. They should reach catchable size later this coming season. Finally, we were able to carry out our annual stocking of 4000 brown fingerlings in March spread fairly evenly over the four streams. These also should provide angling by the end of the coming season, maybe earlier in the Maclaughlin and Bobundara if they have survived. I only checked the Kybeyan and Kydra for spawning. Flows were perfect, but spawning was poor confirming low numbers of large fish. But I found 4 spawning redds in the Kydra (none in 2019-20) three above my place and one on Rob Edwards place confirming that some fish survived the drought. In the Kybeyan I could only find one possible redd, in the usual spawning area above the TSR upstream of the causeway. This was not good and supported the need for restocking to restore the fishery. What will be interesting this spring is whether any of the rainbows that were stocked last October spawn this spring. They will only be 2 years old but I understand that it is possible for rainbows to spawn at that age. (Late news 15/8, I found 3 new spawning redds in the Kydra above my home pool. Bit late for Browns could they have been Rainbows?)
All of this should make me happy and it did, but then the United Nations released their report outlining the accelerated rate of global warming. Covid is bad but is within our ability to control and there is a political will to do so. The threat from climate change is overwhelming, threatening humanity, or at least humanity as we know it. Forget worrying about covid or the economy and jobs, if we cannot get on top of emissions those fears will be meaningless. In fact the report confirms all the fears I have harboured for many years, that even if the world gets serious about addressing warming it is probably too late to escape serious disruption. Lags in temperature responses and positive feedback loops will ensure like a runaway train, that temperatures will overshoot the station. And unlike covid there is no Australian political commitment and limited international commitment to addressing the issue. As anglers and outdoors recreators you know what is at stake here. The only way that Governments will seriously address climate change is if public concern is such that it affects the ballot box. Shocking isn’t it. I urge you all to take every opportunity to make your concerns known.
The debate about feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park continues as more streams join Currango Creek in being trashed. Currango Creek is gone as a fishery and harbor for Platypus and other native fauna and flora. Its’ beautiful perched swamps drained, its banks broken down and its bed silted up by trampling hooves. Up until now the Monaro Acclimatization Society, with our President and MAS Vice President Kerry Pfeiffer playing a leading role, has been content to support other organizations such as The Invasive Species Council in seeking removal of, or at least large reductions of horse numbers in the park. However, Kerry now thinks that the time has come for anglers to be more vocal in their own right. He has come to this conclusion as a result of the failure of the NSW Government to release a new horse management plan and the fear that any plan would not adequately address horse numbers anyway, and the continuing procrastination and prevarication by Deputy Premier Barilaro over horse numbers and reductions in their numbers. He asked for a recount and got a scientific independent survey and now is rejecting it. He said that numbers had to be reduced dramatically but now appears to have changed his mind and outright rejects the only practical way of reducing numbers, aerial and/or ground shooting. You wonder who is pulling his strings. Kerry wishes to assemble Anglers and Journalists on the Currango Plain after the opening of the trout season to publicize the damage done to this iconic area by the horses. Whether this goes ahead will depend on Covid restrictions but if you wish to be involved let me know and Kerry and I will contact you if it does.