Who hit the switch?
  |  First Published: March 2013

How quickly things can change and few anglers would know this better than those who target Murray cod and golden perch.

Not long ago it was almost a prerequisite to tie on your bait or lure behind a tree for fear of being savaged before it even hit the water. Few trips went without reward and some horse-sized cod were pulled from the depths.

Rumoured giants trolled from the Robinvale pool water around the Nine Mile were all it took to get tongues wagging and lures flying.

Golden perch were regular catches as the river swung back after a season or two of down time.

Wemen was another popular spot with many cod caught from this current-rich stretch of river. Golden perch were quick to smash the lures, with most anglers finding a feed if they desired.

That was right up to the moment the full wrath of Summer sent things into sizzle mode.

One week of scorching hot weather was all it took to push the water over 27° and make fishing nearly impossible.

The cod developed a bad case of lockjaw, golden perch were hard to tempt and catch rates of both plummeted dramatically.

At the same time, a billion shrimp exploded in the warm water and anglers changing small lures for a bunch of these pinned on a hook were again able to score a few fish amid an endless sea of carp.

A week or so of cooler weather dropped the water a few degrees, tempting a few cod to feed again on lures.

This indicated a pattern when the fish were more likely to have their heads up and all successful trips in the past month were after a few days of lower temperatures.

There is no doubt that water temperature plays a big role in native fish behaviour. Just a few degrees up or down is no different from flicking a switch.

The trick is to be there when they’re on.

Temperature is just one more of the zillion idiosyncrasies that make these fish so bloody frustrating, yet love them we do.


Surface fishing has proved a little more productive in local waters, with anglers and fish more comfortable in the cooler hours after sundown.

While the majority of surface-feeding cod are smaller, there is always the chance a monster fish will rise from the depths and explode on your lure.

I remember my first encounter with one such fish in the Darling River many years ago. The sound of the take cannot be mimicked by other than the foolhardy business of firing a shotgun underwater.

I was lucky enough to see the outline and waving pectoral fins of the 30kg fish plus just under the lure. Heart in mouth, as soon as I moved the lure it disappeared down an abyss to the sound of an underwater implosion.

Within seconds it was over as the monster pulled lure and line down through a maze of snags. Heart racing, I had watched the whole thing unfold, yet it still managed to almost frightened me into next week.

With the worst of the heat behind us, we should see cod and golden perch back in full swing and if early season catches are anything to go by, look out over the coming month as the water temp starts to drop.

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