The extreme heat experienced during summer has done little to slow down the Murray cod fishing around the Wangaratta area. The great Murray cod fishing just powered through, which it should continue to do right throughout March.
Both the Ovens and King rivers have very healthy populations of Murray cod despite the high fishing pressure this season. The average size is not great though.
During March the Murray cod fishing should remain fantastic anywhere along the Ovens River from Myrtleford to Bundalong. As has been the case for the last few years, the high populations of Murray cod are upstream around Wangaratta while the bigger Murray cod seem to be in the far lower reaches of the river closer to Bundalong. It is not uncommon to hear reports of 15-20 cod caught in any given day in the Ovens River upstream of Wangaratta, with all fish often being undersize.
However, reports of those numbers closer to Bundalong are rare. In fact reports of more than just 2 or 3 cod a day down there are not common in those parts, but reports of large cod are becoming more and more frequent. So if you know what it is you are after, you can choose your location better.
If you want to try and catch a large Murray cod, head downstream to the Bundalong area. If you are after a sporting challenge and want to catch good numbers of cod, and size is irrelevant, head further upstream closer to Wangaratta.
The King River has been ticking over nicely. The King has not seen the same numbers of Murray cod caught as the Ovens, but has been a popular spot for anglers to fish, particularly local anglers that know how and where to access the river. The King River is harder to access than the Ovens and permission to cross private property is often required.
In both rivers surface fishing has been great fun again this season. I have been catching a lot of cod on the Koolabung Codwalker range of surface lures. I do have to admit though, the surface fishing has not been quite as good as it was last season, and this season I have been catching a lot more cod on spinnerbaits and hardbody diving lures.
Bait fishing has been very popular with anglers having good results fishing with bardi grubs. Anglers using smaller baits such as worms and freshwater shrimp have been catching a lot of small cod as well as the usual carp and occasional yellowbelly.
As is usually the case there has not been a huge amount of yellowbelly caught in the Wangaratta area this summer. Surprisingly the odd yellowbelly has turned up in the King River, which is not a common occurrence.
The far lower reaches of the Ovens River from Peechelba downstream has seen a few yellowbelly turning up on peoples lines, in particular for the bait anglers sitting on the bank at their campsite drowning some worms or freshwater shrimp.
I did hear of one bloke who managed to catch three yellowbelly in the one evening underneath the bridge on the Ovens River at the 7 Bridges. Multiple catches of yellowbelly in the Ovens River are not common at all. Yellowbelly bite well into March so the lower reaches of the Ovens River may just hold a few surprises for anybody planning to head down there.
The redfin took their time to fire this summer. Lake William Hovell was a bit patchy at the start but by February people were catching good numbers of small redfin with a few larger fish thrown into the mix. The 7g blades and small-sized soft plastics have been doing the damage.
March is a fantastic time of the year to head to Lake William Hovell chasing redfin. As the water level drops, the redfin usually start to get active. Try fishing with soft plastics such as a 2-3” curl-tail grub, or ribbon-tail minnow. If you’re casting from the bank, cast your plastic out, let it sink to the bottom and then bob it up and down along the bottom as you retrieve it. If you're in a boat or kayak, try just gently bobbing the soft plastic up and down along the bottom. If it's not too windy, do this while drifting and as soon as you catch a couple of fish, lower the anchor and concentrate on that spot.
Blades are a fantastic redfin lure in Lake William Hovell. Blades such as the 7g TT Switchblade, or Berkley BigEye blade work well. Towards the end of the month as the water starts to cool down you may even find yourself hooked onto a trout.
The trout fishing has been poor at best all summer. Some streams have managed to hold onto a few trout, but they really have been few and far between.
In March as the water starts to cool down it will be worth looking around for the right streams to target. The Buckland River has been producing a few trout over summer, so too has the Buffalo River. With the trout numbers at such a low level, now is a good time to consider catch and release fishing until the trout populations bounce back up in the next couple of years.
The tranquil Lake William Hovell.
Paul Love with a King River Murray cod caught on a green StumpJumper.
The author with a 78cm mud-marlin (European carp) from the King River. He had some fun dragging this big fella in!
Mates Joey Barca and Brett Corker with a nice Murray cod that Joey caught on New Year's Eve.Reads: 1946