With the days getting shorter and the nights getting cooler, you get the feeling that Winter isn’t too far away.
For anglers on the Murray River this usually means catching larger cod (hopefully!) and chasing a feed of Murray crays. It’s this time of year that families and groups of the boys get together to spend a few days on the river when they can fish through the day and check the cray nets during the night and hurry back to the warmth of a well stoked campfire.
It’s known among cod anglers that the bigger fish are caught during the cooler part of the year but it’s also the time when the average angler packs the gear away until the warmth of Spring kicks in. Dedicated cod chasers will spend hours, if not days, trolling lures in their favourite stretches of river while watching their sounders to find the bait balls of bony bream that help locate a trophy fish.
The fishing can be slow to extremely slow but those who persevere are generally rewarded.
They say the Murray crayfish are more active at night but a couple of anglers last season reported that they had their bag limit of five per person after dropping their nets in at 8am and they were off the water by lunchtime. Unfortunately you don’t always get your limit this quickly.
In the rivers the crays are often found along clay banks and the depth of water that the nets are in doesn’t seem to matter – we’ve caught them in 1m and in 7m.
Baits for the crays include pieces of dead carp, ox liver and split sheep heads, to name a few.
Remember that all females with eggs must be returned to the water, as well as any crays under the legal 9cm. Only one over 12cm carapace length can be kept.
All good tackle stores will give you advice on how to measure the crays as well as a booklet on the size and bag limits
There have been some good-sized cod around, with an 82cm fish the biggest for the month.
Bardi grubs have been the favourite bait for one angler who landed one cod of 63cm and another of 78cm while anchored in the middle of the river. Another fishing from his houseboat down towards Torrumbarry caught a 78cm cod on an unweighted yabby.
Downstream of Torrumbarry Weir has been up and down but when it’s fired, the fish have been on the attack.
One angler spent four days camping on the river for a total of 12 cod from 54cm-82cm and, surprisingly, no carp.
On one of the days nothing would bite their baits or lures and the following day the weather started to change. With storm clouds approaching, things started to improve and they trolled up three cod within 250m.
It goes to show that even a slight change in the weather can be enough to switch on the native fish.
Redfin and golden perch have been quiet in the Campaspe River between Echuca and Rochester, while upstream at Lake Eppalock there have been some good-sized reddies, yellowbelly to 1.75kg and even some Murray cod to 56cm.
Trolling red or green hardbodies up to 70mm along the rocky points and shorelines has worked well.
As the weather becomes more favourable for sitting on the couch in front of the telly, round up some good mates and give the fish and crayfish a go for a weekend. You might be surprised at how much fun you can have and if you don’t get a fish or a feed, it has to be better than mowing lawns or being at work!
For more information on what’s biting around Echuca and Moama, drop into J.T’s Fishing & Camping, opposite the Border Inn Hotel, Moama, or phone 0354 803 868.
Nick Adams has had no trouble finding redfin in the Campaspe River. This one took a red-skirted spinnerbait cast into the fallen timber.Reads: 776