Runoff codfish
  |  First Published: February 2011

Most rivers and creeks continue to flow high and fast, as they have done for more than a couple of months now.

It seems rain has become a regular event, with bush tracks wet and boggy and mosquito numbers at an all-time high.

Camping is not for that faint of heart and if you come unprepared, these winged bloodsuckers will drive you to within an inch of madness.

It’s an uneasy feeling to look up through the flywire on the swag and see several thousand beady eyes and probing stingers salivating at the prospect that you’re the next meal.

Good news is that the mozzies aren’t the only thing on the chew at the river, with anglers catching some nice fish in the good flows.

Bait anglers are still doing well in the backwaters on cod and golden perch. Scrub worms remain the most effective, followed by grubs and local river shrimp.

Lures, too, have been taking their share of fish, especially in the tannin-stained water.

Feeder creeks and river mouths are also fishing well and just like the Northern Territory Top End runoff, where barramundi stack on cue, the cod are holding and feeding in similar fashion on the lines where the two waters meet.

There could be a couple of reasons the fish are holding and feeding in these locations.

The colour change provides the perfect ambush spot and secondly, one of the two waters may hold higher oxygen levels, something that has been a problem in many of our rivers these past few months.

In the larger water, trolling lures along the edge of the dirty water line has proven very productive, in some cases producing double hook-ups and almost cricket-score catches of Murray cod.

Most are undersize, which is a good sign for the future, but there have also been some bigger fish landed by a lucky few.

Trolling lures along the dirty water line in the current is at best a one-way event.

Trolling upstream into the current will allow you to present the lure at much slower speeds.

This in turn provides the fish more time to react because the lure stays in the strike zone for much longer periods.

It also allows the lure to be worked over logs and other obstacles with less chance of becoming snagged.


Smaller feeder creeks can be worked very effectively by casting lures, or baits if you like, to the edge of where the two waters meet.

Spinnerbaits and Mumblers work very well for this style of fishing and, depending on depth and current flow, the heavier 1oz models are generally the most effective.

Crash-diving hard-bodied lures can also be worked on the cast and once you have located the fish, it’s nothing to pull several from the same location in a session.

We managed no less than 31 cod while fishing this exact scenario, the majority of the fish were caught on the edge of the dirty water current line.

We found several lures very effective under these conditions, not least the 120mm and 90mm Cod-baits. With a natural baitfish profile, they create less drag on the line, which allows for ease of use in heavy current.

There is no doubt that similar fishing scenarios are taking place at many locations along the Murray and its smaller rivers.

While good flows continue, the opportunity to target runoff cod will be as close as your local feeder creek or river mouth.

As for the golden perch, simply fish the calm backwaters with bait or lures and you’re sure to find a bit of action.

All up, the fishing has been great in most locations.

On the downside, the blackwater run-offs have killed some sizeable cod and crays have got up and walked away from some sections of deoxygenated water.

It remains to see what will happen when water temperatures climb as we head into the real heat of Summer. Until then all we can do is enjoy the fishing and keep our fingers crossed.

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