Local fisherfolk have been disgusted with the photos they have seen in social media and general media of very large flathead being caught and killed rather than released. Flathead frames devoid of their fillets, in excess of 80cm in length, have recently been tossed into the water at the Tuross Boatramp by fishers, obviously unaware or indifferent to the fact that Tuross Lake is officially declared a Trophy Lake. While the new declaration means only one flathead per day over 70 cm may be kept, fishers are encouraged to release all flathead over 70 cm as they are breeding females. Many are scratching their heads wondering how it isn't obviously morally wrong to kill these large fish. Old old timer who has seen the depletion of fish stocks notes that the demise of the "big ones" is as a consequence with the obsession for "selfies" and by the time the perfect selfie has been choreographed, from the perfect angle, with the best possible light, the fish is long dead. "Why don't they just take a photo on their measuring mats and put the fish back in the water instead of friggin' around with Instagram." The fishing and the prawning experiences to be had that were once considered great marketing for Tuross Head, that depends solely on tourism, has seen such an increase in visitor numbers to the waterways that many believe stocks are now stressed. Coila Lake itself is now under continued stress as it has no quotas set for commercial extraction of prawns or bream which means every last animal can be netted from the system legally. Coila Lake was prawned over that last month to such an extent by commercial and recreational fishers that Fisheries could barely keep up overseeing the continued wanton greed reported of by the many who exchanged scoop nets for drag nets. 337 litres of prawns were officially confiscated while thousands of litres were known to find their way into the black market, to be sold via social media and word of mouth. Tuross Lake has long been noted for producing “monster” Flathead along its shallow banks. Recreational fishing is a favourite activity within NSW and a massive contributor to our economy. It is a $3.4 billion industry and generates 14,000 full time jobs across the state. In fact, it is third (behind Equine sports and Golfing) in recreational activities. In recent years the number of social fishing events held in the town have seen numbers swell. Not all of the events are catch and release. An announcement by Niall Blair MLC (Minister for Primary Industries) in Novemeber declared that along with St Georges Basin, Tuross Lake has been officially declared a Trophy Fishery for Flathead.
This recognition comes with a change in bag limits for Flathead. For “flaties” 36 cm and over the bag limit is 10 per day. Only one flathead per day over 70 cm may be kept but fishers are encouraged to release all flathead over 70 cm as they are breeding females. Every year the Tuross head Fishing Club hosts their annual Flathead and Bream fishing competition in March. The comp is a CATCH AND RELEASE with entrants photographing their catches.
In accordance with the “Trophy” status the Tuross Fishing Club is also approved for tagging of fish species. Tagging of fish provides valuable information on fish stock numbers, growth rates and sustainability. Source of contributory information The Department of Primary Industry website says of Tuross Lake: Tuross can turn on some monster flathead in very shallow water, often on surface lures intended for whiting. There are literally kilometres of shallow banks and flats in the Tuross system providing champagne surface fishing.