Cod, cod and more cod have been making headline in fishing news in the Ovens River catchment. Never before have I seen so many Murray cod in the rivers here, as well as the protected trout cod, which seem to be in plague proportions.
A few years back, the black water event went through the lower Murray River and various other waterways killing plenty of Murray cod in its path. It was a very sad sight. At the same time, the water flowing down the Murray River upstream of Lake Mulwala and the Ovens River was not that great either. As a result, the millions of small Murray cod that were frequently caught in Lake Mulwala have pushed upstream at that point in time looking for fresher, more oxygenated water. As a result, we now have a river system that is absolutely packed with small cod, and the lower reaches are now much quieter.
What I am eluding to is that anywhere along the Ovens River is worth fishing at the moment, but do not expect to catch anything too big. The lesser numbers of cod in the far lower reaches of the Ovens, and in Lake Mulwala have led to better than average growth rates, meaning that fewer, but bigger cod are being caught downstream closer to Bundalong and in Lake Mulwala.
In February the fishing should remain really good provided it does not get too hot. If it does get ridiculously hot, like it did last year, then try fishing early in the morning or late in the evening, with the mornings the most productive. I have been having a lot of success on spinnerbaits and surface lures lately, so give both of them a go.
The Ovens River is very clogged up with logs, so boating is really only an option early in the season. During February, when the river is really low, kayaking is very popular, as is walking the banks, unless you are scared of snakes because there are plenty of them around here.
As mentioned, if it is larger fish you want, head down to Bundalong and don't expect to catch a lot of fish but, when fishing in the big deep holes, hold on tight because you never know when your lure or bait will get nailed.
If you are after some great sports fishing, try fishing the Ovens River anywhere upstream of Bundalong, right up to Myrtleford.
The King River has been fishing equally as well, and should continue to fish very well throughout February, however access is much more difficult and the banks much more over grown. The Edi cutting is a great place to access the river and camp. There are plenty of cod there, the water is very clear and dogs are allowed, making it a very family friendly spot to camp and fish.
The trout fishing has remained quiet right across the region with just one or two tributaries of the Ovens River producing fish on a regular basis. Most streams have been producing the odd trout, but they really have been few and far between. During February, head as far upstream as you can and look for some shaded small waterways with a decent flow. The upper reaches of the Buckland would be an ideal starting point. The Rose, Dandongadale and Buffalo rivers have seen a few fish caught, but nowhere near the numbers they were turning up in a few years back. The Ovens River upstream of Bright has remained exceptionally quiet. In all of these rivers, make sure you concentrate on the low light periods of the day during this hot time of the ear, with the mornings offering the coolest temperatures.
A few redfin have been turning up, and by February Lake William Hovell should be starting to fish quite well. The lake usually starts dropping in February as low rainfall increases demand for downstream irrigation. My favourite time of the year to fish this lake for redfin is when it starts dropping, and then by late March, when the water starts to cool a few trout start turning up, but I will go into that next month.
In February, try bobbing soft plastics off the bottom if you are in a boat or kayak. If you are land-based, try angling using very small yabbies for bait, as well as casting small soft plastics from the bank, allowing them to sink and retrieving them close to the bottom.
A little Buckland River rainbow trout that fell to a 40mm Metalhead soft plastic minnow recently.
Brett corker with a Ovens River cod caught on a Bassman spinnerbait at sunset. These small cod should still be biting well in February.
A small King River Murray cod that fell to an unknown brand spinnerbait that cost $5 at a local tackle store. Seeing so many small fish in the rivers at the moment is a great sign for years to come.Reads: 1946