FRY’S FLAT, near Mansfield in Victoria, was a hive of activity over the November long weekend following the rediscovery of a very rare fish.
The snowfish, once quite common in the colder mountain streams of New South Wales and Victoria, was last sighted in 1935 by gold prospector Mr Keith DeSilva, working in the Kiandra goldfields of NSW. Due to the flavour and colour of the flesh, the fishermen of yesteryear considered the snowfish a delicacy. Even though many keen anglers have tried to catch an example of this fish over the years, it was believed by most authorities to be extinct.
Chris Smith and son Trevor, from Taylor’s Lakes, in Melbourne, were understandably excited about their discovery. “I had heard stories of the snowfish living in cold mountain streams, but I thought they were just stories… I didn’t really believe that such a fish existed any more,” said Chris later that day in the campground at Fry’s Flat.
“We’d no luck fishing yesterday so we decided to go for a bit of a drive up to the snow with our friends from the Jackaroo Club. At lunchtime we stopped near a small pool that had ice on the top. I threw my line in as a bit of a joke, but can you imagine how I felt when I got a bite and pulled out a snowfish? Trevor nearly fell in with excitement.”
“Yeah, I thought Dad was kidding. He does that sometimes, but when I saw the fish, I slipped over and nearly did fall in!” said Trevor, smiling widely.
And where is the snowfish that Chris and Trevor caught? “Our friends took some photos of us, then Dad kissed the fish and put it back. Can you believe that?” said Trevor.
“I wanted to keep it for tea, but I guess putting it back was the best thing to do. I hope getting kissed by Dad didn’t upset the fish!” Trevor exclaimed, still grinning.“ We don’t want to tell you exactly where we went,” Chris said, when pressed for the location of the pond. “We want to preserve the colony. We don’t want everyone to come up here, or the fish may really become extinct.”
Now that may be the case, but judging by the activity at Fry’s Flat over the long weekend, plenty of people were about with fishing rods, although when questioned, no-one said they’d caught anything.
Environmentalists have blamed the pollution of the mountain streams as the major cause of the demise of the snowfish. Further information about the snowfish can be found at http://snowfish.net/