Hook, line and sinker: No tricks - just common sense required to stay safe on the water this winter

Tuesday 15 May, 2018

As the winter fishing season approaches, Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) and Maritime Safety Victoria (MSV) are reminding anglers, boaters and paddlers to follow some simple rules to help stay safe on the water.

Trout and salmon fishing are popular at many GMW-managed waterways, including Lake Eildon, Dartmouth Dam and Lake Hume. Eildon is Victoria’s most popular inland waterway for boating. 

GMW Land and Recreation Officer Jay Whittaker said while many recreational visitors take heed of safety advice, a surprising number still ignore it.

“It’s so important to always wear your lifejacket if you’re on the water and maintain a lookout for hazards at all times. Cold water can be a serious risk during winter, especially in some lakes or dams where the water is deep. 

“If you do fall into cold water and you involuntarily gasp and breathe in water, a lifejacket will ensure you come back to the surface. A kill switch attached to you will prevent your vessel from getting away from you and a ladder will make it easier to get back on board.

“Take note of the water levels and submerged hazards where possible and seek local knowledge before heading out. These simple things can be a great help,” he said. 

Large bodies of water can become very rough in windy conditions. Always be on the lookout for changing weather conditions and obtain an up to date weather report prior to heading out.

Carrying the right safety equipment and knowing how to use it is also essential. A waterproof phone or a Personal Locator Beacon will allow you to call for help. 

“Remember that you must not operate a recreational vessel unless all safety equipment on board is easy to reach, well maintained and serviced,” Mr Whittaker said. 

Inflatable lifejackets must be inspected regularly and serviced as recommended by the manufacturer. 

“The Victorian Recreational Boating Safety Handbook, published by MSV, is worth having on hand which is full of details and tips about staying safe on the water,” he said.

“It’s great to see recreational users enjoying our lakes, dams and reservoirs, and this starts with being safe on the water. 

“For more information I encourage people to go to www.transportsafety.vic.gov.au/msv/handbook to download a copy.”

Maritime Safety Victoria recommends four tips before every boating trip: 

  • Check your vessel is suitable for the conditions, not overloaded and all lights, electrics, ropes and safety equipment are on board and well maintained
  • Check the weather and water levels
  • Familiarise yourself with the waterway rules
  • Let someone know before you go and carry a means of raising the alarm. 

Drawdown of Lake Mulwala this winter

Those planning a fishing trip to Lake Mulwala should be aware that the lake level will be lowered by 3.5 metres this winter to allow for works around the foreshore and weed control.

The Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) will carry out the works in conjunction with GMW to improve infrastructure at the lake and to control an invasive weed. 

The lowering will expose the lake flats which will be muddy, reducing amenity, access and the ability to launch boats from the boat ramps. MDBA is advising visitors can still boat and fish in the main river channel that runs through the lake but will need to launch their boats upstream.

More details online at https://www.mdba.gov.au/media/mr/lowering-lake-mulwala-winter-works-weed-control 

About GMW’s role as a waterway manager

As the manager of 24 water storages across northern Victoria, GMW is also responsible for managing recreation on and around many of the storages, including public access, safety and education.

Recreational land and water services are provided at 14 of GMW’s storages as well as five storages managed by GMW on behalf of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.