Carp in Googong Dam

I’ve been fishing Googong a fair bit recently and enjoying good success on the yellowbelly. It has been a lot of fun, and with the lower water levels at the moment it has been possible to explore a bit more water than when the dam is full. I was recently fishing a shallow inlet and came across what I thought were spawning yellowbelly. Yehhaaa! I thought, until I realised that what I was witnessing were three carp mooching in the shallows.

Hard to make out but there are three fish to the right of the vertical tree

A quick google search for carp in Googong confirmed what I had thought until now: that Googong was supposedly carp free. It is broadly acknowledged that there are koi and goldfish in the dam, but what I have seen are definitely carp. I know a mud marlin when I see one. Since the first sighting, I’ve been back and spotted them every time. Fish ranging from 2-5 pounds.

We have asked a few of the local anglers and fisheries folks about their knowledge of carp in Googong. Responses have ranged from ‘They’re not in there. I spend a lot of time on the water, and I think I would have seen them’, to, ‘Yeah, they’ve always been in there, just in low numbers’. So what’s the verdict in terms of whether it is carp free? It ain’t. Thankfully, at this stage, the numbers appear to be low. Hopefully (and perhaps perversely), the hoards of hungry redfin are suppressing the populations, with the resident population of yellowbelly and monster cod keeping a lid on the population of larger fish.

The scale pattern gives it away

How they got in there is anyone’s guess. It’s extremely unlikely to have been the result of the Murrumbidgee to Googong water transfer pipeline – the effort and research put into ensuring carp could not be transferred was exhaustive and commendable. It’s a shame that the investment in this was arguably wasted. Consequently, it’s likely to be the result of someone introducing carp into a farm dam in the catchment, or unscrupulous behaviour by fishers using carp as livebait, or worse still, deliberate introduction. There are other possibilities, but with (perhaps) much smaller probabilities of being the true cause.

A cod on fly would be a million times better

We’re keen to hear anyone’s thoughts on the issue, or whether there have been other sightings. Feel free to comment below or send us an email at flickandflyjournal@gmail.com.

Cheers

flickandflyjournal.com

Hamish Webb, Dan Firth, Graham Fifield and Lee Georgeson have been fishing the south-east Australian region since 1987. Since then they’ve become avid sportfishermen who are constantly looking for new ways to challenge themselves. They are all scientists and conservationists who are passionate about the long-term sustainability of the ecosystem in which they live. They promote understanding and appreciation of the complex socio-political, economic and environmental issues surrounding fish, fishing and fisheries, while never losing sight of the various motivations that keep them coming back. In English, that means they love all things fishing and have a damn good time on the water, and that’s all that really counts in the end!

6 thoughts on “Carp in Googong Dam

  • January 23, 2018 at 9:50 pm
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    According to one of my fishing buddies who has a very long and successful history of fishing the Canberra region, Highland lakes and NSW south coast – the fish in question looks more Koi than Carp to him. So, is it possible that some hybridisation is occurring?

    In any case, he saw Carp in Googong in significant numbers back in the early 1980s. Apparently at some point there was a clean-up done by netting which reduced but did not totally eliminate the resident population. It would seem that this activity was not well known of then, or now. In any case, such an exercise could easily be conducted again should the need arise since apparently Carp are not hard to net when in a spawning aggregation, and there are only a few suitable bays for them to spawn in Googong.

    As for how they got to be in Googong in the first place is open to conjecture, his conjecture is that since Carp eggs are sticky then it is not impossible for them to travel on shags/ducks etc, at least for short distances like up and over the dam wall from the lower Queanbeyan.

    However, perhaps a more likely explanation is that they were introduced from multiple source, including with a native fish stocking since most inland native fish breeding facilities find it hard to keep carp fry out of their water supply.

    All that being so, it seems entirely possible that the Carp you’ve seen recently are just as likely to be remnants of the original population as they are to be new recruits. Either ways it is not out of the question that Carp will also turn up in Cotter at some point.

    Can more information be provide about how Carp eggs and fry have been 100% excluded from the Murrumbidgee to Googong water transfer pipeline, including the additional 13km section of Burra Creek along which the water flows before it enters Googong.

    Also, is anyone aware of how often the pumping station is activated and the amount of water being transferred?

    • January 31, 2018 at 8:03 pm
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      Thanks for the comment Fisho Jon. The koi thing is super interesting as a few of the people I’ve spoken to are fairly sure they would have been koi. But a 3kg koi that looks exactly like a carp? I’ve seen these fish swim past my feet, and caught hundreds of carp in other waterways, and it seems strange that they would somehow be a different species (or a hybrid) when they look identical.

      I have heard there were some fact sheets somewhere online about the fish egg filters used on the Murrumbidgee to Googong water transfer. Good sources (a local fisheries ecologist) suggest that there is a vanishingly small chance that carp eggs could make it through the fine mesh used for the filters. As for the use of the pipeline, I understand that it’s only ever been used for testing on a handful of occasions.

      Thanks again for the feedback! Certainly an interesting issue and it would be great to get to the muddy bottom of it all.

  • January 24, 2018 at 7:11 pm
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    I’ve read that the eggs of some species of fish can stick to birds’ legs and transfer between bodies of water that way. In fact, that is one of the ways Asian carp spread in the United States. Perhaps that is how the carp got into Googong.

    • January 31, 2018 at 7:55 pm
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      Hi Joey, definitely a possible scenario. Thanks for the comment. It seems almost impossible to keep carp from moving over local distances, regardless of the presence of dams etc.

  • January 26, 2018 at 8:45 am
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    I’ve always come accross them up Bradley’s creek inlet and around the south entrance but never in big numbers. They would have to come down from the tributaries from time to time no matter what else is done. Rangers have never believed me

    • January 31, 2018 at 7:53 pm
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      Thanks for the comment, Aaron. Super interesting to hear that they might have been in there for a long time. I tried to get in touch with the rangers as well but didn’t have any luck. Some of the fisheries guys at ACT fisheries and Uni of Canberra are quite interested.

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