Fishing for Murray cod in the Wagga Region
I’ve been living in the Wagga area for the past 16 years and have spent a major part of my spare time chasing the elusive 1 metre + Murray cod in the local rivers, creeks and impoundments, I recently succeeded and the experience rates right up there with the best for me, the fact that my 7 Year old son was there to share the experience makes it so much sweeter. I am by no means an expert but I do see my fair share of fish these days and as I almost exclusively use lures with catch & release techniques I can do my part to ensure that my son will also have the same opportunities.
The aim of this article is to give a guide on the techniques that I use in our area which will hopefully help those fisho’s out there that would like to experience the mighty Murray cod.
The Murray cod is a magnificent fish and the bigger ones are quite accomplished brawlers that will hang down deep shake their heads and head for any cover they can find to snag you up and secure their freedom which they manage quite frequently. The largest Murray cod ever officially recorded was 183 cm, 113 Kg (6 ft, 250 lbs), although there are the usual tall fishing stories out there.
Walking the creeks and river banks casting spinner baits and small hard bodied lures (45 – 75mm) for cod and golden perch is a great way to spend an afternoon, but for me of late there has been nothing better than slipping down the river after work with the kayak. Drifting along with the current and flicking lures at the snags has been exceptionally productive for me not to mention relaxing.
Most snags hold fish so you need to put plenty of casts into the same area and work around it as it sometimes takes a while to coax a reaction out of a fish if they’re not interested in a feed. It’s a bit more difficult in the kayak because of the current, I normally try to find a log or something to hold the kayak and then cast down to the next snag or even around the one I’m on if there is enough area. Try to look for snags that run deep into the water especially hollow logs as these make ideal homes, reed banks, undercut banks or drop-offs.
Don’t be scared to throw your lures right into the snags and other structure, as this is generally where the fish are holding up waiting in ambush, if you’re not getting snagged up or at least bumping the snags, you’re not fishing in the right place! Murray cod are very territorial and will attack most intruders in their area and contrary to popular belief can move with remarkable speed. Trout cod which are currently protected are just down right aggressive and will attack anything that crosses they’re path and the Golden Perch are readily taken on a lure intended for much bigger predators.
For trolling I prefer Hard bodied lures such as Oar-Geee (75mm), Stump jumpers (90mm), Muldoon’s (130mm), and Australian Crafted Lures (150mm), and have recently been experimenting with Spinner baits and Mumblers (also known as Chatter baits).
When it comes to lure colours personal preference comes into play to a large degree, but as a rule Bright day = Bright colour, Dark day / Night = Dark colour. Around my area we tend to use most colours during the day Yellow, Bronze, Red and Green are generally a good start. At night Black and Purple are my preference.
In the rivers look for deep holes rocky outcrops overhanging willows etc. and run the lures past as close and as deep as possible, another tip is to have a look at the trees on the bank and then imagine the same size tree lying in the water, run your lures about 3 feet off the bottom where you imagine the branch’s of the trees would be lying and chances are you will find a lot more snags and a lot more fish, a lot of people make the mistake of fishing too close to the banks. In the impoundments Drop-offs, dam walls, submerged timber rock ledges etc. all hold fish. Again run lures around 3 feet off the bottom I generally fish between 10 & 30 foot of water depending on the conditions.
Trolling around or through any structure available and varying your speed can be the difference to catching or not catching a big Murray cod. Impoundment fishing generally involves larger lures and a lot of people make the mistake of trolling to slow therefore their lures aren’t getting down into the target zone and are not really working as designed.
Start with a medium walking pace when the lure is down you should be able to pull the rod horizontally through a 150 degree arc and have the lure hit the bottom if not try speeding up slightly, let more line out or a deeper diving lure. Night trolling is generally performed during the full moon, of course if you are night trolling make sure you use nav lights, it really is amazing the amount of boats that I see trolling in close proximity along a rock wall or the likes without lights on and they are generally the guys that get upset when you get to close.
Water clarity as with any form of fishing plays a large part and I find with any new area it pays to talk to the locals as they will have a fair idea on what works in their area and of course we all need an excuse to visit the local tackle shop. When it comes to rods I prefer a good quality 4-8 kg graphite rod around 6’6 in length, with a good overhead reel loaded with 20 lb braid and 30 lb vanish leader for casting. When trolling I upgrade to a 6-10 kg rod, loaded with 30 lb braid and 35 lb leader. Others I know who frequently catch big fish (1m +) on the Murray use 50 lb braid and 70-80 lb leaders, I guess you never know when that 80-100 pounder is going to hit down there.
www.murraymonsters.com/knots has some downloadable videos showing the various knots involved with tying leaders and lures etc. which is worth a look and fishing destinations around this area should involve the likes of Blowering Dam, Lake Mulwala, Burrinjuck Dam the Murrumbidgee river and of course the Murray river itself including the various tributaries.
Size and bag limits apply as well as a closed season in all States where Murray cod occur, so it pays to check the local regulations where you plan to fish. Murray cod are excellent table fare in the smaller legal sizes but can get quite fatty and oily in the larger sizes. So it’s best to release the larger fish.
Large Murray cod (40 lb +) are easily injured whilst trying to get into a boat for a photo. A good set of lip grippers are worth their weight in gold. Keep the fish held upright in the water until your ready for the photo where possible have someone assist with the lift, when returning to the water slowly swim the fish for a moment so it can recover.
PLEASE act responsibly handle the fish as little as possible and return as quickly as you can, a photo looks good on the wall but not at the expense of a great Australian icon.
Written by Craig Jones 2009