Abstract Macquarie perch, Macquaria australasica Cuvier, is an endangered Australian freshwater fish that has historically supported popular recreational fisheries, but since the 1980s, it has experienced a decline in both distribution and abundance. This study investigated whether a marked decline in the population size of Macquarie perch has occurred at Lake Dartmouth between the mid-1980s and 2000 and the likelihood of the current legal minimum length (LML) of 350 mm TL protecting the population from recruitment overfishing. Recreational angler survey data showed strong evidence for a temporal population decline. Sampling of the population and construction of a simulation model indicated that the current LML would protect the population from recruitment overfishing. This study highlights the value of specifically investigating suspected threats to endangered fish populations to allow the instigation of effective fisheries management.