12 June 2024

If you're angling to fish in the cold, make sure you wrap up with a lifejacket

| Chris Roe
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NSW Maritime Boating Safety Officers are out to make sure fishers remain safe through winter.

NSW Maritime boating safety officers are out to make sure fishers remain safe through winter. Photo: Supplied.

With winter setting in and the alpine rivers closed for trout fishing until October, marine authorities are warning anglers heading for the lakes about the risks of cold water boating.

NSW Maritime boating safety officers were out in force across the long weekend to emphasise safety and awareness of the changed conditions during the winter months.

“We see hundreds of fishers lured to alpine waterways during the colder months, but a concerning number of boaters are not aware of the additional requirements and hidden dangers of this type of boating,” said senior boating safety officer Rory O’Hara.

“The most common offences we came across were related to lifejackets, accounting for 57 per cent of formal actions recorded, followed by safety equipment offences which made up 14 per cent of offences and licensing and registration at 11 per cent.”

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Mr O’Hara warned boaters not to underestimate the risks of lower water levels and freezing conditions.

“Wearing an appropriate lifejacket is mandatory for all boaters in vessels under 4.8 m in length on alpine waterways,” he said.

“Any water temperature below 15 degrees [Celsius] can induce cold shock and hypothermia if you fall in, drastically increasing the risk of drowning.

“The weight of wet winter woollies can make it impossible to stay afloat, so it’s important to always make that top layer a lifejacket – and remember an inflatable lifejacket won’t work properly if worn under your clothes.”

Shorter days and low visibility during fog are also considerations with appropriate navigational lights mandatory.

“You might not want the fish to see you coming, but other boaters need to be able to see you, and it’s your responsibility to ensure you’re visible to them,” said Mr O’Hara, adding that it was important to prepare properly for the conditions.

“Don’t be the person out there with all the gear but no idea,” he said.

“There’s plenty of fun to be had and fish to catch – but remember to do your research, check the weather, know the rules around lifejackets and safety equipment for the waterway you’re on and make sure you are up to date with servicing and maintenance.”

Spawning trout are protected by the closure of rivers and streams from June to October.

Spawning trout are protected by the closure of rivers and streams from June to October. Photo: NSW DPI.

Trout streams and rivers across NSW were closed to fishing on Tuesday (11 June) to allow the fish to breed uninterrupted during their annual spawning run.

DPI Senior Fisheries Manager Matthew McLellan said the four-month closure was about protecting future seasons.

“During this time, recreational fishers can continue to wet a line at any of our popular trout dams across NSW such as Lake Jindabyne and Eucumbene Dam in the Snowy Mountains, Oberon Dam near Bathurst, Talbingo Dam near Tumut and Malpas Dam near Armidale,” he said.

“The fishing season for trout and salmon in trout rivers and streams will reopen from the start of the October long weekend, Saturday 5 October 2024.”

NSW DPI Director Fisheries Compliance Dr Andrew Moriarty said Fisheries officers would be out and about to ensure fishers were safe and doing the right thing.

“Fishers heading to any of the trout dams this winter are reminded that they are required to have a current NSW recreational fishing fee receipt on them at all times while fishing,” Dr Moriarty said.

“A combined bag limit of five and a size limit of 25 cm applies to trout or salmon in all trout dams except in artificial fly and lure dams where the bag limit is two.”

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