While everyone is slowly recovering from the big wet of early December, many locals are still talking about the amazing fishing around Echuca in the lead-up to the opening of the cod season.
Barmah was a handy destination for the locals and fishing its best for many years.
Those brave enough to camp the night had to battle the mosquitoes by soaking themselves in repellent. Even finding a campsite that wasn't under water was proving a challenge on its own.
With reports of the Weiri and sections of the Perracoota Forest being flooded, access to some parts of the rivers became difficult. Several weeks of afternoon thunderstorms cranked up the humidity and gave the impression you were up in the tropics.
These weather patterns stirred up the local fish, with golden perch to 65cm and fish averaging 50cm to 55cm common.
The area around Barmah continued to fish well for the opening with the biggest cod a massive 130cm taken on a 75mm Oar-Gee Plow in colour L (silver scale with pink gills).
Although there were plenty of reports of metre-plus cod and golden perch to 65cm, the fishing then started to slow down and the cricket-score numbers declined.
The Goulburn Junction has been productive for those fishing with scrub worms from the bank. Goldens to 47cm have put bends in rods, worms fished close to the bank in the last few hours of light were best.
Trolling lures around the junction has been hit-and-miss, with anglers feeling their lures getting whacked but not staying connected. The fish are obviously there but just aren't in a feeding mode.
By early December, Lake Eppalock had gone from 80% to water flowing over the spillway in only five days. The Campaspe River flooded around Elmore and Rochester, giving the river a much-needed flush.
Anglers at the junction with the Murray picked up a few fish waiting for food to be washed into the main river and the flush was also good for the Murray, helping dilute the black water making its way downstream.
Below the weir at Torrumbarry there has been a good run of golden perch on bait and lures. A paternoster rig with a small yabby on one hook and the other loaded up with shrimp has been the pick.
Spinnerbaits cast from the shore have also taken their share, with the Bassman 4x4 with the red/black skirt a standout. Boat fishers have picked up a mixture of cod and yellowbelly trolling hardbodies, especially with green and yellow patterns.
Gunbower Creek has again proven to be a big cod fishery with reports of fish creeping up towards a metre. Lures in the green and yellow frog pattern and lighter coloured spinnerbaits have been successful.
The Waranga Basin has been patchy with only the odd redfin. Trolling 50mm Poltergeists down to 3m has been the way to go. Once the school of reddies has been located, it's just a matter of trying to stay with them and keep dragging your lure past them.
Always keep an eye on the wind because a good blow can make boating in the Basin dangerous even in larger craft.
On boating safety, I received an email from a very dedicated angler who fishes from a boat and a kayak. On this trip the writer and a couple of mates had a few days quietly fishing from their kayaks around Moulamein, catching and releasing some good cod.
On the last day they were casting lures when a few tinnies rounded the bend and one of the drivers, on seeing the kayaks, yelled, ‘OK boys, let’s have some fun’ and started to churn the water around them.
Luckily the drivers in the other boats had more commonsense and things settled down quickly. If the kayaks had been overturned, someone would have had to put their hand up for the loss of gear and possibly even the loss of life – just because one dumb-arse thought it might be funny.
I'm always hearing boat fishers complaining about wake boats giving them a hard time. We all like to use the river but we all have to use some commonsense and etiquette.
Back in November we experienced 'black water' with a major fish kill on the Wakool and, to a lesser extent, on the Murray.
Heath Farrell of Moama came across nine dead cod, four over 1m, between Echuca and the Goulburn Junction. Fish of that size don't get that big overnight and to see them in a state of decay leaves you feeling pretty ordinary.
It seems the Murray, being a bigger body of water, can cope a bit better. With no shortage of water around, it would take only a small pulse down the rivers to help dilute the black water and get some oxygen back in the system. Surely it's not that hard?
• For more information on what's biting around Echuca & Moama, drop into JT's Fishing & Camping, opposite the Border Inn Hotel, or phone 03564 803868.Reads: 5022