1. Probably the most important thing to know is Cod closed season. This is in place from September 1st to the 30th of November. Exemptions to cod closed season are Beardmore Dam, Beehive Dam, Connolly Dam, Cooby Dam, Coolmunda Dam, Glenlyon Dam, Leslie Dam and Storm King Dam in Queensland. Eildon Dam in Victoria and Copeton Dam in New South Wales. All other waterways are closed this is essentially to protect the breeding process of Murray Cod, ensuring the best outcome for our future fishery. Catching Cod during this time can cause them stress and could lead them to miscarry their eggs removing potentially thousands of fingerlings from a waterway. Murray Cod are still an endangered fish the main cause of their decline was early commercial fishing. Blackwater events and agricultural run off also contributing to their reduced numbers. A Cod between 60 and 70cm are the essential breeders as almost 100% of their eggs will eventuate. Where a Cod over the magic meter mark will carry 10 time the amount of eggs of a smaller fish, but have a much higher miscarriage rate so even the smaller fish are a huge contributor.
2. Murray Cod inhabit the whole Murray Darling Basin and can be found in a vast array of waterways. Such as fast flowing streams, lowland gorges, clay based river systems and stocked impoundments. They like the security of structure like submerged logs, overhanging branches, boulders, undercuts or gullies and will hold tight to any other form of structure.
3. Murray Cod don’t have any eyelids, so they’ll seek shade or shadows to hold in to escape the blinding glare of the sun. Having no eyelids means they’re constantly alert and lay in wake to ambush their next meal. They sleep much like a computer going into a sort of power save mode. However due to their receptors that can sense acoustics in the water they’ll wake up in a meal presents itself.
4. People often ask me when giving talks at boating/lure shows what lure colours they should be using when targeting Murray Cod. A misconception of most is purple lures are the be all and end all of Cod fishing. This isn’t the case, however purple is the most popular colour sold Australia wide. The purple lure owner believes success on said lure and finds it difficult to try anything else in the colour spectrum. I see it day in day out on social media forums when asked what colour to use for Murray Cod – there’s an overwhelming response of “Purple”. I really feel sorry for the fish we don’t eat one meal our entire life do we? I don’t have a favourite colour. I fish anything and everything. You’ll find in hard water that’s been heavily fished, presenting something unusual will spark the curiosity of native fish. A mishmash of odd colours will work really well as its something new…Remember that lure colours are generally designed to catch fisherman! I’ve got lures that don’t have a spec of paint left on them from catching copious amounts of fish and they still catch plenty!
5. Murray Cod are smart and have a long term memory bank. So don’t compare them to your humble goldfish. Ever had those bigger fish follow your lure repeatedly and turn away every time? This is because they’ve been there before, whether it’s a memory of an action or colour they’ve associated it with tasting hooks and are a little more hesitant but they are also an inquisitive fish.
6. Murray Cod will inhabit the same snags as Golden Perch and can co-exist with each other. On heaps of occasions I have pulled several Yellowbelly out of a snag before hooking a Cod in the same structure. The Perch are generally a bit quicker to the lure then Cod. Don’t get me wrong there’s a point when cod reach a certain size when Cod being cannibalistic will eat their own in tougher times. Nothing is off the menu when they can eat something around 70% of their size.
7. It has been scientifically proven that that recreational fishermen are only around 12% effective on a Murray Cod population. So just because you only catch 10 fish out of a section of river, there were potentially another 90 Cod that weren’t interested. Out of curiosity I kept my own data for over 2 years. My variables included – Barometer, water temp, moon cycles, wind direction and time of day. After reviewing all my data there were no blindingly obvious patterns and my opinion is if you want to be a successful fishermen just fish any day that ends in Y.
8. In most areas that hold Murray Cod if you’re not knocking wood you are not catching fish. Sometimes the difference between catching and not catching is literally inches. Therefore casting accuracy is an essential tool to have in your arsenal. You’ll find times when you get a territorial from Murray Cod, constantly dragging your lure through their home will induce a reaction bite. This can be 10 casts or 200 cast it comes down to how aggressive that particular fish is. It’s certainly a satisfying moment when that gut feeling you had paid dividends and your persistence paid off getting that Cod after multiple casts.
9. A lot of people don’t know that a Cod’s markings/patterns are unique to each fish. Much like our fingerprints or a Zebra’s stripes no two are alike. This is why we have an obsession with wild river cod, the beauty in their patterns and features are an incredible thing. I don’t fish as much as I used to but still average a couple of hundred a season. The metre River Cod still evades me stuck on a PB of 97cm. The truth is as much as I like fishing impoundments it’s not really my thing, I’d much rather fish the rivers in my kayak. Something I’m passionate about and when that meter Cod happens I’ll know I’ve earned it.
10. Catch and Release fishing for Murray Cod is an awesome concept young and old fishermen alike have welcomed it with open arms. But still there are a lot of reports in which meter fish have been found floating in stocked impoundment from poor fish handling practices. Think of a Cod’s bone structure as scaffolding, they have a fine bone structure for such a large fish. Water creates surface tension on a Cod’s body reduces its body weight by half. When removed from the water its sheer weight starts to constrict the fish so properly handling the fish will result in its future health/survival. Never lift a Cod by its jaw as it can cause dislocation. If using lip grips they should only secure the fish while submerged the lifting should come from the centre of the abdomen and the same when putting them back. When it comes to photos I’m all for it but the fish should only be removed for as long as you can personally hold your breath, so a few quick pics then send them home.
We are so lucky to have one of the biggest fresh water fish in the world at our doorstep. It’s your job to protect our Murray Cod fishery and ensure future generations can experience catching these awesome fish!