Too hot for native fish
  |  First Published: March 2014

You know it’s hot when you bounce out of the ute barefoot and you can feel the tar move beneath your feet.

Dressed in nature’s finest boots, black globs of sticky goo tear at the skin as you literally hot foot it for the nearest shade. Funny for onlookers but you’d reckon after two decades a bloke would have more sense than to brave the barefoot in summer.

I don’t mind the heat but can you seriously imagine fishing in these sorts of conditions? Actually, imagine is all I do at this time of the year when it comes to chasing native fish along the Murray River. Those anglers unperturbed about keeping their catch have little to lose other than a lot of sweat. If you are into catch and release however the odds of losing your catch run very high during the peak of summer. Large Murray cod are a real challenge to release and the bigger the fish the more likely it will die, regardless of your best efforts. I see it every season and no longer risk angling these fish during the hottest months.

There is so much about catch and release angling that is unknown to a broader audience, especially the impact heat plays on summer caught cod. I would rate the loss of larger fish, say a 1m+, at around 30%. This could possibly be higher if you include the following days, as they later succumb to the stress of capture and handling. I have no stomach for the death of these iconic giants and for these reasons refuse to fish for cod in the heat. In saying that I am none the wiser on how the cod have been biting this past month but I do know most who have suffered the heat are turning up a few golden perch and a mountain of carp on bait.

While I don’t cod fish at this time of the year the angler in me demands a challenge and I choose to vent my angling frustration on the surf. Mulloway, shark and snapper are all on the cards and you can never be sure as the rod loads and the drag screams to life. Most of our fishing takes place along the back of the Coorong and the challenge of a giant mulloway taunts us every trip in a similar vein that Murray cod do for some river anglers. Perhaps it is just me but they seemingly make big cod look stupid; only the freshest baits, only the right tides, only the right this, only the right that. Then some idiot comes along chucks in a frozen pilchard lands a 70lb model on a K-Mart special and has the cheek to ask you what it is – should have bludgeoned him to death with his bloody rod!

For me the want to catch such a giant never wains and only grows in stature with every close encounter. We have several more trips planned before the heat starts to drop away and we return to the river and our beloved green fish. Until then we will continue to track down the silver-sided giant that so far remains an elusive catch.

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