Murray Cod Maccullochella Peeli
Found in nearly every tributary of the Murray – Darling system. Cod populations have been declining since the early 1900’s due to over fishing and agriculture. The next five years should see a change due to restocking and good populations of mature breeding cod.
Cod start breeding early in life, the best breeders are fish from 12 to 27lb. A 12 lb fish in some rivers may only be three years old depending on food populations and water quality. So when you look at that ten pounder wrapped up in foil with a dash of lemon and a few veggies, just think, Maybe in another two years these could have bred to a hundred – maybe five hundred more cod. If this had happened then maybe it will not hurt to kill one for dinner. Lets face it, there’s more fun in catching 100 cod then there is catching one and eating it.
In the last five years I have seen a dramatic change in the cod populations due to Catch & Release Fishing and Restocking. We have gone from five fish to 30 in most of the rivers.
I have caught cod from between 30 and 40 different rivers in VIC, NSW & QLD and at least 10 impoundments. The best two rivers I have found are the Severn & Macintyre with fish to 50lb showing up quite regularly. In Copeton, Glenlyon and Splitrock Dams fish between 40lb & 70lb are not uncommon.
In the Severn River it is not uncommon to catch and release forty cod between three people for the day if the water temperature is right. Water colour does not seem to matter as long as you can see 50cm into it.
The moon plays a large roll in catching and not catching cod. I have read a lot of articles on catching cod on surface lures at night while the moon is full, but cannot agree. I caught my first cod on a surface lure in 1986 and have fished on Full Moon, New, Half and No Moon ever since and have found that if the full moon is in the sky, day or night, the fish will be less active. The moon only help you see where you are casting and so what if you lose the odd lure here and there, fishing is definitely one of the cheapest sports I have played.
Between October and March are the better months for catching cad, with late December to mid February being the absolute best months. Just don’t get caught chasing them between the 1st of September and the 1st of December as this is the off season, the cod breeding season.
The best time of the day to be chasing cod is when the first rays of light hit the water and when the shadows start to grow longer of an evening. I have also had some good sessions between nine and eleven o’clock with some good fish to forty pound being caught between eleven and one.
Bulky bodied lures with wide actions seem to work the best on a medium paced retriever. A little bit of pace does not hurt every now and then.
It does not seem to matter how big the lure is, if you can cast it they will try to eat it!! I have caught a number of cod only just longer than the lure. Large lures around 150mm and bigger will bring out fish that you would rarely see. Fish that have been caught and released when young will often nail a large lure on the first pass by.
Natural coloured lures seem to work best, Brown, Green and Black. I have found that cod, being territorial, are very aggressive with a lure that looks like a small cod. A lure like this will always account for a very large percentage of the fish that we catch. In areas where there are good populations of Red Fin, Carp, Spangled Perch and Crayfish, lures painted in these colours will work well too.
If a lure gets hit by a cod don’t just keep retrieving or trolling, give the line some slack and 90 percent of the time the fish will have the lure before you take up the slack. The fish thinking it has stunned its’ meal will jump straight on it. If the fish is missed do the same thing again. Sometimes this might be done ten times before the fish gets shy or impatient and caught.
The old willow on the corner, the giant gum fallen across the river or a large rock out in mid water all give way to the home of the Murray Cod.