Plenty biting in the backwaters
  |  First Published: October 2013

It’s time to put down the heavy artillery and pick up the lighter tackle to focus on the finesse side of our fishery.

There is much to do and catch during the cod closure and with high river levels predicted, bait angling will take precedence in much of our water.

Golden perch will feed in the warm Spring flows. Hidden in the pockets of backwaters, they ply their trade where current meets calm, delivering a string of edible opportunities.

If the river spills its banks, and it looks like it will, shallow snags in the still just off the backwater become prime ‘reel estate’ for large perch.

With a bucketful of worms and a couple of spin sticks, a great day can be had fishing the backwater snags from boat or bank.

As you bask in the warmth of Spring the river rolls by, pushing deep into the bush over low banks leading to backwater lagoons and creeks.

It’s time for another bite to begin.

Slowly at first, it gathers momentum as an endless army of yabbies appears from seemingly nowhere. Hidden deep in their earthen chambers, the rising waters are a cue for yabbies to emerge and feed on the bounty delivered in the high flow.

It’s a time of plenty and all going well, the cod so fat from last season’s glut will breed unhindered, creating a new population of future river giants.

Mosquitoes, too, will be on the chew so make sure you cover up. They carry a few nasty bugs, Ross River fever the most common.


Well worth a look, the warming Kerang Lakes water will also stimulate good numbers of golden perch to feed.

If the water clarity is good, anglers can expect to catch both solid perch and redfin on a variety of lures including blades, plastics, hardbodies and spinnerbaits.

The regulators at both ends of Kow Swamp are popular Spring locations, often with standing room only.

Here golden perch stack up and while it’s a little like shooting fish in a barrel, it’s totally legal to do so as long as you stick to bag and size limits.

Legal, yes. Ethical? That’s up to the individual.

Until the rules are changed regarding fish stacks at regulators and weirs, fishing at these locations is totally up to the angler.

A similar event can be stimulated by increased flows at both Kangaroo Lake and Lake Boga.

Fisheries vigilantly patrol all three locations when the fish are running and ignorance is no excuse. You will need a Victorian fishing licence to fish at all three lakes and it’s important to note that bag and size limits are also different from NSW.


Reflecting on the cod season that was, there is no doubt that there are still some very good strongholds along the Murray. It was a very productive season from the Euston Weir downstream through Mildura and beyond, with good numbers of large cod caught on lures.

Anglers keen to angle these bigger fish are returning to these sections of river, many travelling for six or seven hours to do so.

It’s also very encouraging to see that the majority of fishos released their catch, a selfless act that insures we can do it all again next season and beyond.

Unfortunately, not all fishers derive from the same gen pool and those at the very shallow end still feel the need to lay a few setlines. It’s been many years since setlines were banned but I can honestly say there was not a single section of river I fished this year that did not have clear evidence that they are still in use.

It’s disturbing fact that the cod fishery above Robinvale is still silent, a testament to the blackwater event several seasons ago.

Let’s hope the Euston fish ladder will be operational this Spring, allowing cod migratory passage upstream to rekindle the fishing in the Robinvale pool water and above.

All up, it was a very eventful cod season and we look forward to the good Spring flows and the rich angling opportunities they are likely to bring.

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