Time for a big cod
  |  First Published: July 2011

The wonderfully wet weather from late last year and early this year has had a profound effect on the entire state of Victoria and of course this includes our local waterways and fisheries.

My old stamping ground of Central Victoria has been revitalised in no uncertain fashion, and it looks like my favourite lakes of Eppalock and Cairn Curran Reservoir are back to their pre-drought prime, if not very close to it anyway. Unfortunately a similar result hasn’t quite transpired here in the north of the state, with the mighty Murray River taking up the entire excess soak and channelling it (eventually) to sea.

While the inland reservoirs are brimming and flourishing, the poor old Murray has been put to work in no uncertain fashion. There have been ups and downs to this no doubt. The worst result was the blackwater event taking out untold Murray cod brood-stock. The rest of the season can be described as patchy at best, some days diamonds, some days stone.

The shining light in a patchy fishing season has been the yabbies. There are very few anglers who will knock back a feed of yabbies and these tasty critters can only be described as prolific this season. As we enter the serious (read big fish) Murray cod fishing period we wait with baited breath (pun intended) to see firstly what remains of the bigger Murray cod populations post the blackwater apocalypse, and secondly how the big flushes will affect their appetite for lures and baits.

Murray River

Vinny Roccisano and a couple of his mates had a productive afternoon fishing around the high cliffs of the Red Cliffs area. Fishing baits around the edges of the river, Vinny managed some lovely little golden perch to about 35cm in length. Earthworms were the successful bait on this occasion and Vinny tells me that keeping a little movement in the baits was vital, it was the slight lift and fall of the worms that seemingly gained the fish’s attention on this day.

Well known Mildura lure fisher Steve Cohrs has had a bit of a quiet time of it lately but has been having limited success on golden perch, fishing floating, diving lures in tight and close to the edges of the river. Steve tells me that at this time of year the edges of the river are that little bit warmer in temperature and this is where the more active perch will be found. That makes a lot of sense to me!

There are numerous pleasing reports of river catfish being taken on baits by local anglers. These lovely little fish were once prolific in the Murray River but have been in decline for some time. It’s great to see these little guys making a bit of a comeback, but please be aware that in NSW waters (Murray River) they are totally protected and must be returned to the water. Please do the right thing and do your bit to ensure the catfish remain in our system.


Rayma from the Wentworth Angling Club’s Fort Courage tells me the Murray cod are still a little on the quiet side, with anglers at her facility having more luck on the golden perch at the moment. As for most of the system at the moment, bait anglers are having most of the luck, but that’s not to say the fish won’t take a carefully presented lure as well.

The incredible run of yabbies still hasn’t tapered off at all. Got One Mildura’s Alan tells me he’s never sold so many yabby nets as this year. If the fish are a little quiet, you certainly won’t starve if you have a few yabby nets. As usual check your state’s regulations, as they do differ.


Making forecasts in recent times is fraught with danger, however I’ll always try and do my best. In July I expect both the golden perch and yabbies to have quietened down a little. In most other years this will be the prime time to get those big deep diving Stumpjumpers, Oargee Plows and others into the depths to plumb for a few big green fish.

These frosty, clear mornings are prime time to get the old carcass out of the sack and tempt a metre-plus Murray cod out of his sack as well. It’s been a very different fishing year in many respects and I wouldn’t be surprised if the cod made me look foolish. That said, there’s only one way to find out. Get out and get amongst them!

That’s it for this month. I’m very happy to get your feedback. Please email me at --e-mail address hidden-- with “fishing” in the title, if you’d like to submit a report or a digital photograph of your capture. I’m also happy to field any fishing related enquiries you may have, send ‘em through and I’ll do my best!  See you on the water, Darky.

Let ‘em go, watch ‘em grow! Tom Dark swims a lovely little golden perch prior to release.

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