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Luring in lakes for Murray cod
  |  First Published: December 2013



Catching Murray cod on lures within our lakes can be challenging and rewarding at the same time. There are a huge number of anglers each season who spend large amounts of time targeting Murray cod in many Victorian and New South Wales lakes systems.

Whether you are fishing Lake Eildon, Lake Hume, Lake Eppalock, Kangaroo Lake or Lake Mulwala all of this locations have their own sets of challenges and with the terrain being very different from one location to another it often takes a considerable amount of skill and knowledge to be able to produce consistent results when targeting Murray cod in different locations.

UNDERSTANDING MURRAY COD

Like any other form of fishing it is critical to have a good understanding about the characteristics of the species of fish you are targeting as an angler.

Murray cod are a species that are very lazy in their nature. Their level of aggression is hugely affected by the barometer. They can be very territorial one day, but not the next. They are ambush feeders and will often ambush prey from a wide variety of structure.

Murray cod will take a lure out of three main responses. The first is a feeding response. This is when a lure is presented to the Murray cod in such a way that it represent a food source. The Murray cod then comes out and strikes the lures in order to eat it.

The second is a territorial response. This is when repetitive casting or trolling of lures past resident Murray cod provokes a strike, often the strike from the Murray cod is intended to chase the intruder away.

The third is an instinctive strike. This is when a perfect cast is placed very close to a resident Murray cod and without hesitation instinct kicks in and the Murray cod inhales your lure. The size of this strike zone can vary greatly from day to day. On some of the toughest days fishing that strike zone can be a small as a few centimetres.

IS IT ABOUT SPOTS?

Unfortunately this is a mistake that is commonly made by many anglers. Some very good Murray cod anglers fall into the trap of fishing their favourite locations too often on a regular basis. This is human nature if you have had good success at a particular location, then you go back there thinking you will catch more fish at this same location.

Murray cod are susceptible to fishing pressure. I believe Murray cod do get educated. I believe that every time a Murray cod is caught and released they learn from that experience and they become harder to fool with an artificial lure in the future.

Murray cod are no different to people, some fish are smarter than others. Managing to catch a large Murray cod is a great test of your skill and knowledge as an angler. A good location only remains a good location if it receives minimal fishing pressure. My job as a fishing guide relies on my ability to read the water and fish new areas on a regular basis so clients can manage to catch Murray cod. Thus the name of our business is Cod Hunter Fishing Tours. The hunter being the most significant word as this is what we try and teach our clients - the ability to read the water and continue to hunt new areas in search of Murray cod.

STRUCTURE

When targeting Murray cod in our lakes structure is a very critical ingredient for anglers if they want to catch Murray cod. Timber is a favourite form of structure. This timber can be of several different forms.

Fallen timber or lay me downs as I like to call them provide great habitat for Murray cod and often have several key holding points where Murray cod will take up residence. The most productive holding areas are on the root systems of the fallen timber. Any areas where two branches separate and create a V are excellent holding areas. Also if there are any cross up timber (this is where you have a combination of vertical and horizontal timber meeting) is always worth a look.

Small trees or shrubs can be productive structure for targeting Murray cod. This can often be found in lakes that experience large fluctuations in water levels like Lake Eildon. After periods of decreasing water levels followed by good rises in water levels, usually during late spring and early summer, these new forms of structure can provide great habitat and are excellent holding areas for Murray cod.

Large standing timber is also very good habitat for Murray cod. However this form of structure is often ignored by many lure fishers to the detriment of their catch rates.

Rock structure can be prevalent in some locations, yet non existent in other lakes. The most common form of rock structures are rocky shorelines. These areas can be productive locations to cast or troll when targeting Murray cod with lures.

Ledges and drop offs are areas that are not often targeted by many anglers when chasing Murray cod. They can be prevalent in some lakes where there are many points or changes in direction around the shoreline.

River and creeks are prevalent within the majority of our lakes systems. These areas can be difficult to locate when they are inside the lake. These river and creeks systems do provide current flows throughout many of our lakes and therefore carry good volumes of food and are favourite holding areas where good concentrations of Murray cod can be located.

Weed beds and shoreline vegetation are terrific areas to target Murray cod. Many anglers choose not to fish these areas as they can be difficult to fish with weed often fouling lures. Skilled anglers know the inconvenience of regularly clearing lures is worth the effort as some terrific Murray cod are caught off this soft vegetation. Shoreline vegetation can be very productive; this vegetation can be of a wide variety. The root systems of willow trees and cumbungi lined banks are a couple of my favourite types of shoreline vegetation.

WHERE TO FISH

This is often determined by water temperatures and whether water levels are rising or falling within the lake.

Often early in summer water levels are still rising and water temperatures are increasing. During this period the best concentrations of bait is in these shallower margins. This is where the greatest concentration of Murray cod will be located. In locations like Lake Mulwala this can be in depths as shallow as 3-6’.

During the middle of summer water temperatures can get very warm and combined with a reduction in water levels the concentration of Murray cod reduces in these shallower margins. In autumn we will often see a short period where good concentration of Murray cod move back into these shallow margins again. Then in late autumn and winter the cooling water temperatures produce a migration of bait from these shallow margins into deep water and the Murray cod follow. There is a common saying amongst anglers: Find the bait, find the fish! This is true for many species.

FAVOURITE LURES FOR MURRAY COD

There are a wide variety of lures that are currently on the market for anglers who are targeting Murray cod.

My recommendation for anglers is to buy a good selection of different types and styles of lures so their options are covered.

When fishing spinnerbaits for Murray cod I prefer to use small low profile spinnerbaits. Over two decades of fishing this style of lure I continue to produce my best results when fishing single bladed spinnerbaits. Copper blades have been a terrific option for me over the years. Bassman is my preferred brand and Glen Casey is a master of making these lures. His range of colours is very impressive and has an option available for any conditions.

I also use the Jackall range of lures when targeting Murray cod and a couple of my current favourite options are the Doozer and TN65 models. The Jackall range of lures continues to grow and many of their models such as the Jackall Squirrel and Mascle Deep are very productive, but under used by anglers targeting Murray cod.

A favourite hard body brand continues to be Custom Crafted lures made by Steve Kovacks. Steve is a master of his trade and he is one of only a few who are still making timber hardbody lures. Models such as the small Hammerhead and Lumo Diver have been consistent over the years. I am looking forward to using some of Steve’s new models which I have had some input into the design and development of these lures for the 2014 season.

There are also a growing range of surface lures available for targeting Murray cod. Anglers should try and have a range of these from paddlers to poppers to stick baits and buzz baits as they can all be good on the right day or night!

Anglers want to build a range of lures so they can fish in depth ranges 2-40’. Colour selections can be important and the challenge of working out what they want to eat is not an easy one. But a rewarding one when you manage to land that quality Murray cod followed by a couple of quick photos, then releasing that fish to fight another day.

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