Cod done and dusted
  |  First Published: September 2014

The Murray cod season is all done and dusted and when we look back and reflect on the last nine months we realise that our fishery is forever changing. The excellent cod catches we experienced this season are but a small slice of a much larger fishery that continues to struggle at many locations.

Some areas affected by the blackwater events are still producing but only a few, if any, cod, which is a stark reminder of the past. So what did we learn from these mistakes and the detrimental impact they played on our native fish populations? Well, I would say nothing as the bush at many locations along the Murray River has once again been pumped full of water.

Try dropping into Bottle Bend reserve near Mildura, a popular camping and fishing spot, which up until this season was enjoyed by many. The gate has been locked for a few months now and the countless acres of dry land well above river height are flooded as far as the eye can see, all the way to the highway several kilometres from the actual river. This is just one of many locations that are experiencing a so-called natural event that has replaced Mother Nature with a giant pump and generator.

I am either too tired or perhaps too ignorant to see the bigger picture but I have seen the past and the legacy it has left. Did we learn nothing the first time round? I guess only time will tell.

We did experience some excellent fishing this past month that was hit and miss as the Murray fluctuated up and down and the clarity changed from week to week. The chill of winter’s cold did little to help on the slowest days that sometimes would yield but a single strike on the lure. If it happened to stick, then all was good as most often these cool water fish were well above the metre-mark. To chance an oncoming rise in water levels would see the cod bite with gusto and these days are those we remember over all else that’s fishing.

Several times this past month we had captures of three or more metre-plus cod on lures in a weekend trip. Casting was most productive as the water cooled, and the larger fish seemed to find comfort in the shallows. While the golden perch were harder to tempt, most sessions would see at least one or two boated on lures with more on bait if you tried.

Carp continued to bite well on bait and many an evening session was spent catching and feeding these rubber-lipped vermin to the numerous pelicans that were readily dying of natural cause and starvation along the banks of the Murray River.

As we head into spring and the closure of the cod season, anglers will shift their focus – the numerous golden perch will become active and will now be the intended target. Smaller lures will replace those intended for cod and the action will come thick and fast, as the water starts to warm. Bait anglers too will cash in on the action as the fish once more glut a new generation of shrimp that seem to explode overnight.

A few trips are in line for the cod closure and while the Murray locally at Wemen and Robinvale will provide good catches of golden perch I am looking for an upsize. Eildon is just the place to lock horns with a monster of the species.

Off to the surf to chase a few mulloway and a feed or two of redfin from the Kerang Lakes will be a welcome change from the Murray River while the cod season is closed.

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