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A tale of two rivers for the Loddon

Man on the banks of a river in the morning holding up a Murray cod he has just caught
2 Mar 2023

For the health of Victoria’s second longest river, the story of last year’s floods is a tale of two parts. 

The mid Loddon River from Laanecoorie to Loddon Weir is benefiting from the increased flows, which increase productivity of the river and food for fish and waterbirds.

The lower Loddon is a different story.
North Central Catchment Management Authority (CMA) Project Officer Will Honybun said both outcomes were no surprise.

“When we experience flooding on the scale of 2022, we often see parts of the river benefit and other parts become stressed,” he said.

“The mid-Loddon River is still mostly confined to the channel, which means any poor-quality water has drained away quickly, allowing nutrients and organic matter washed into the main river stem to stimulate the food web.

“The sections of the river that span out over the landscape pick up a lot of extra nutrients, which are slow to move away. This poses a threat to water quality and native fish and fauna.

“All the indicators are showing fish populations in the lower section of the Loddon are in recovery mode, while in the upper Loddon River fish numbers have been bolstered. That’s also the message we’re getting from Central Victorian anglers.”

Bendigo’s Kevin Ferguson is an avid Loddon angler and administrator of the Fishing Central Victoria Facebook group.

He has fished the Loddon for years and has noticed a big change in the past 12 months while fishing the river from Laanecoorie to Serpentine.

“Everyone knows fishing can be a struggle at times, but the recent trend in the Loddon River seems to have changed,” he said.

“I fish a fair stretch of the Loddon targeting mainly Murray cod and golden perch, anywhere between Laanecoorie Weir all the way through Serpentine to the Loddon Weir, including some prime spots between Newbridge and Bridgewater.

“I do a fair amount of walking the banks and kayaking and fishing feels to be better than ever. 

“I've been surprised how well the river above Loddon Weir has recovered from the floods. It is looking really healthy in those stretches. 

“The water is clearing up well, you can see the vegetation is thriving again, and there’s plenty of healthy water for the native animals. 

“Many of the members of our Facebook page fish the Loddon River and we’re noticing a lot more success in numbers of native fish.”

Mr Honybun said it’s important the good conditions in the mid-Loddon are maintained. 

“We’re fortunate to be able to deliver water for the environment freshening flows during summer to maintain water quality and keep the ecosystem working well,” he said.

“In the lower sections, those flows over late summer and early autumn are all about recovery. We’ll deliver flows that inundate fish habitat and trigger native fish to move back into the better reaches to kickstart their recovery.

“These flows also give native fish an advantage over carp so in the long term we see the balance sway back the way we want it.

“And in the longer term, water for the environment can help keep the river healthy in drier times until the next flood comes along.”

Water for the environment flows are authorised by the Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH) in line with its Seasonal Watering Plan 2022-23.  

Updates of water deliveries will be posted on the North Central CMA’s website here.