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Third Time Lucky, Albert Park Australian Perch Fishing.

A history of recreational fishing and stocking at Melbourne's Albert Park Lake.

Author:     Date Published: 9th of July 2014 at 12:36am
Fishing at Albert Park Lake Albert Park Lake had a long history of general and family fishing for redfin perch up until the late 80's, when the water conditions became an issue due to severe aquatic weed overgrowth and pollution in the lake. In the early 1990's, the decision was made to drain the lake in order to clear the weeds, remove rubbish and also completely remove all European Carp. At this time Carp had severely taken over the lake, during the clean out thousands of fish were removed, some were found at sizes of up to 20lbs, huge by Australian standards.

A lot of effort went into making sure every fish was removed from the water during the maintenance proceedings. Unfortunately not long after the water levels were restored, European carp once again established themselves. For almost a decade following, Albert Park remained almost forgotten to what lay underneath the waters, collecting more and more European Carp once again until the year 2000, when finally some progress was made at improving the conditions and introducing some recreational fishing once again.

In March 2000, Albert Park Lake was stocked with 1600 Rainbow Trout for family fishing, along with a surprise stocking of 10,000 native Golden Perch. The reason behind introducing yellowbelly (Golden Perch) was due to the fact they can handle high Australian summer temperatures much better than other fish, proving themselves suitable in the fairly shallow water of the lake.

Unfortunately at this same time, fishing was heavily restricted to a few very small fishing zones, restocking of more Golden Perch planned for 2001 was cancelled due to the lack of public fishing interest at the lake, likely due to the restrictions earlier put in place. The news wasn't good for the 2002 planned native stocking either, with the conditions declared unsuitable due to low water levels at the time, many other lakes in Victoria suffered the same issues during this period, with most of Australia entering drought conditions which would last another decade.

720 adult Rainbow Trout were added in 2001, 1220 in 2002 and 1000 in 2003, these stockings were specifically for junior fishing during the 'Kids Come & Try' fishing days, a part of Victoria's yearly Fishing Week promotions. Following each event, Parks Victoria requested the additional fish to be removed from the lake, around 25~50% of the trout were recovered each year and transferred to Emerald Lake. No stocking took place in 2004 and the lake again went through it's second dark age in terms of fishing access.

Perch Fishing Albert Park The lake experienced a sudden surge of interest in fishing again during 2009 / 2010, following the removal of most previous fishing restrictions. This is believed to have happened without major announcement sometime in 2008/2009. Now only a single section of the lake was banned from fishing, this area is from the start of Lakeside Drive (starting at Albert Road) to the Powerhouse building (Located just after the Queens Road exit), the rest of the lake became completely open to fishing.

During 2009, public rumours were strong regarding the lake being full of large Golden Perch. This was indeed true, they had grown to monstrous sizes due to the lack of fishing the decade prior. Catching yellowbelly at Albert Park had now become highly popular with fishermen both young and old. The only problem with this was due to all the fish being well over the legal taking size, restocking was desperately required if future stock and interest was to be maintained. In May 2012, Albert Park was finally restocked with 5000 Golden Perch, a further 2,000 were also added in 2013.

Permanent Rainbow Trout stocking began in 2012, with 4100 added over the course of the year, and 2000 more in 2013. At last the need for recreational fishing had been focused on Albert Park, the future of Melbourne's world famous lake as a popular fishing attraction appears to be secured.

Now with minimal fishing restrictions in place, the park began it's new phase of recreational focus, a highly popular fishing destination has been born, adding to the large list of other recreations and sports training the area is known for. Abundant rainbow trout are available year round, along with the possibility of catching some of the originally stocked large native yellowbelly, previously only found in the Murray Darling system. All this only 3km from Melbourne's Central Business District.

The dream of many who fish Albert Park, for the central city lake to contain rare and highly popular native fish able to be caught consistently, has finally became a reality in 2014, with 5000 more Golden Perch and amazingly 10,000 Estuary Perch being stocked. While it will take a few years for these fish to gain size, this is something that hasn't been seen in Melbourne before, and will no doubt highly boost fishing at the lake. Locals will have access to species they normally could only find by going on a dedicated holiday looking for them, and tourists whom very often frequent the lake will be able to fish for and experience the prized Australian Perch species up close, without needing to leave the city.

Albert Park is now firmly focused on providing a great fishing location for everyone to enjoy, we can only hope this kind of progress will continue long into the future. Though it has taken decades to achieve, finally the dream for many Melbourne fishermen and anglers has become reality.
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