Understanding the spatial and temporal scales over which key population processes occur is fundamental to effective fisheries management, especially when informing recovery actions following extreme events. In 2018–19, hypoxia-induced fish kills occurred in the lower Darling River, south-eastern Australia. We collected carcasses of three potamodromous species that perished during these events to reconstruct their lifetime movements and identify potential recovery mechanisms. Golden perch Macquaria ambigua, Murray cod Maccullochella peelii and silver perch Bidyanus bidyanus otolith 87Sr/86Sr profiles were compared with water 87Sr/86Sr ratios to better understand natal provenance and movement history, and to identify the scale at which migration influences population processes. Golden perch were predominantly locally spawned (Darling River), although we found some evidence of emigration into the nearby Murray River early in life and return movements into the Darling River. Murray cod were mainly locally spawned and thereafter lifelong residents, with some evidence of stocking supplementing populations. Silver perch were mostly immigrants, with the Murray River (>500 km away) the principal source of fish. For recovery of native fish populations to be effective in the Darling River, recovery actions are required that incorporate knowledge on the relevant spatial and temporal scales over which life history processes occur.