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Thursday, August 26, 2021

Day 14, Trout III.

If you have the soul of an angler your pleasure does not consist merely with the catching of the fish, nor do you keep all your catch, you abide by a long-standing code of anglers reaching right back to the father of angling, Izaak Walton (1593-1683). Walton wrote against “wires and unlawful gins” of “greedy fisherman” and uttered the familiar truism that “not keeping the fence-months for the preservation of fish, will, in time, prove the destruction of all rivers.” As the popularity of angling in the Monaro Region increased during the turn of last century, so did the concern around the preservation of trout streams. By 1906 these concerns called for the recommendation to ban trout from being sold and to have fishing streams managed through local angler societies with the power to introduce fishing licenses and enforce penalties, a model used effectively in New Zealand. Though across the board it looked like the anglers' code was observed throughout the Monaro, with only 89 set lines confiscated during the 1905/6 season and a rod never to be seen in the off season (SMH, 27/10/1906). Interestingly, humans weren’t the only harm of concern, with the committee of the Monaro Fish, Game and Protection Society in 1908 making the suggestion that the Rod Fishers’ Society increase the price per head for cormorants, to 2s each (SMH, 31/10/1908). So while it’s evident that trout flourished in the Monaro river system it seems that credit can’t solely be given to dear Mother Nature, with an annual topping up of yearling trout, nourishment and protection. It's also no wonder trout were plentiful and weighing up to 11½lb around my great-grandfather’s guesthouse (see post from 28 May): a notice in The Monaro Mercury, and Cooma and Bombala Advertiser in 1923 details that “Stewart, S., Boggy Plain, Badja River'' received ten cans of rainbow trout fry from Prospect Hatchery in early Spring (02.11.1923) and in 1924, 88 cans arrived in the Monaro with 10 going to Mr. Stan Stewart (same paper, 19.09.1924), with each can holding up to 300 fry each.