Ripper cod season ahead
  |  First Published: December 2013

It’s cod season, and anglers are revelling in the fact that they can once more try their luck at landing a few monster greens.

In the lead-up to the opening the Murray River fished very well, with good numbers of golden perch caught on bait. Amongst the perch there were several pre-season cod, all over the metre mark – a good sign of things to come. Water clarity is still a little poor but it will not deter those keen to cast or troll a lure. I have caught some thumping cod on lures in water that rated coffee colour at best, and it’s just a matter of getting it close enough for then to take a swipe.

Robinvale has fished well for some very large golden perch on bait this past month, and the rumoured capture of several pre-season cod to 90cm should have anglers excited. According to the local lock master, the fish ladder at the Euston Weir has been operational. This will have provided rite of passage to any cod that might have had the urge to migrate upstream into the Robinvale pool water.

Good numbers of perch and a few smaller cod have also been landed in the current rich stretches of the Murray near Wemen. Bait has been working very well, and with good numbers of shrimp in the Murray you can easily get some with a baited trap. Scrub worms, yabbies and bardi grubs have also worked well, and will readily catch both golden perch and Murray cod.

There is no doubt the number one bait for Murray cod is bardi grubs, and it’s hard to truly appreciate their worth unless you have actually collected them first hand.

I remember all too well my first grub digging expedition after getting some sketchy information at the local pub by a couple of ill-informed ‘experts’. “Just dig away the topsoil under the trees,” they said, “and you will find their holes easily. Once you find them just insert the cable, grab the grub and pull it out.”

I was shearing fit at the time and took to the mallee scrub with shiny shovel, removing enough topsoil to sow a wheat field. My reward at session’s end, other than blistered hands, comprised of several large spiders, hordes of irritated ants and one very ticked off centipede.

I could see a little more information was required. An elderly fisho steered my shovel in the right direction when he suggested I try digging under river gums that stood above the high water mark. He also suggested that sandy ground held the biggest grubs, and was also much easier to dig.

He was spot on. On my next trip I dug a few dozen fat grubs that turned into several very nice cod later that afternoon.

Nowadays I keep a ready supply of grubs in the freezer after blanching them in milk to toughen them up so they stay on the hook longer. While you can buy frozen grubs from most tackle stores, digging them yourself provides a rewarding challenge. It is a common perception that anglers use angling as an excuse to sit back under a shady tree in order to scull down a few cold beers. While there may be an inkling of truth in this, I prefer to believe the consumption of a few cold beverages is generally a direct result of the bait gathering that went on a few short hours before. Either way, a good supply of bardi grubs is sure to tempt a few cod.

December is generally an excellent month for cod along the Murray River for several reasons. Firstly, they haven’t seen many lures for at least the 3-month closed period. It’s all new again and the cod are more inclined to take a swipe at any lure that gets close enough. This will change as the season rolls on and they become ‘lure aware’ as they are bombarded with numerous lures over time.

The water temperature is another factor that puts the cod on the chew. This, too, will change as it climbs high during the heat of summer, slowing the bite to a stop.

For now, however, it’s a prime time to be one the water chasing cod. If last season is anything to go by, we should have a ripper season ahead.

Reads: 1923

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