As the water continues to cool along the Murray River, the availability of an easy meal is fast running out for our native fish.
The bounty of long-armed shrimp that have kept fish filled to the brim during the warmer months is all but gone. The river’s on-call menu is about to change, as too are the size of the fish often encountered.
The real cod season has begun and it’s all about size. Big lures produce big fish and for the dedicated green fish addicts, nothing else counts.
The green eyes now shift towards the schooling bony bream as they become the No 1 food source for these keg-sized fish. Huge clouds of the silver cod snacks hang mid-water on the sounder, in some cases blacking out the screen.
Other indicators are large flocks of cormorants working these bait balls. The birds too are in tune with the chance to plunder an easy meal.
At times it looks like a blue-water free-for-all as terns, gulls and whistling kites cash in on the action.
Underneath, golden perch pick at the wounded while the giants of the river plough through, engulfing a bucked-sized feed of glistening bait.
Our past few trips have produced several good cod that readily regurgitated bony bream, some more than 30cm long.
While most smaller lures went unscathed, a shift 120mm and bigger had the desired response on several fish well past 1m below the weir at Euston.
Most cod taken on the larger lures have been caught trolling the deeper holes. Wemen has been good, as has the Hattah Kulkyne area.
Robinvale continues to remain cod-free with no confirmed reports this season. There are, however, some good perch being landed in this area on bait.
Casting the snags has been a little slow but we can expect that to change over the next few weeks as the cod begin to seek the shallows.
The first few frosts are a good sign for those hanging to cast at some big cod. Large spinnerbaits like the Codman range from Bassman are big enough to tempt keg-sized cod to break cover and smash the rotating blades.
I can’t wait and openly confess that my addiction for that sort of strike is something I will yearn for until my final cast.
The Autumn bardi grub hatch of ghost moths was smaller than usual, to be expected after two wet years when the river escaped its banks and inundated the low-lying forest. Many grubs would have drowned in their holes and been foraged by carp and native fish in the shallows.
While there may not have been huge numbers of ghost moths, about the cod went topwater anyway with several good fish landed in the Wakool on surface lures.
Cod to 90cm have also been landed upstream of Kyalite on small hard-bodied lures, as have a few good-sized golden perch.
Lake Charm has produced some very good golden perch action on lures, the best action under a high barometer.
There have also been a few cod caught in the lake on lures. On a recent trip with my young bloke we trolled and flicked smaller minnow lures and spinnerbaits, hoping to temp a few chunky goldens.
After a couple of hours for nil action we switched to a large120 shallow Codzilla and went trolling in search of cod. We had not travelled 50m before we received our first strike from a solid golden, followed by several more in quick succession.
Perhaps the cooling weather changes the ideal bait size at many locations, as there was no doubt these fish were after a larger feed. No cod on that trip but some new lessons learned on Lake Charm’s cool-water natives.
Those planning a trip to the Murray around Mildura or Wentworth towards the end of May might want to reconsider. The planned dropping of the Mildura weir pool towards the end of May for maintenance will make the river fall away almost 3m.
Lock 11 will be closed during this period and boat access through the lock and weir will not be possible. The Mildura pool will be down for 8-11 weeks.
Other than that minor setback, there will be some awesome cold-water opportunities on giant cod and goldens in many sections of the Murray over the coming month, and with a little luck most of it will be on the cast.Reads: 808