Murray cod on bait
  |  First Published: December 2014

Bait fishing is a technique that has been used to catch Murray cod for many years. In fact, it goes back tens of thousands of years to when the traditional owners of this land would use string made by the green bark of trees and a jagged bone off a hunted animal to catch them and other native species. You can only imagine what the fishing must have been like back then!

With lure fishing being all the rage these days, many anglers including myself still love to go and sit on the bank, or in a boat and target Murray cod with bait with the basic fundamentals of fishing in mind, relaxation and possibly a feed of fresh fish.

Bait fishers are not necessarily all out to kill their catch. Many people enjoy the thrill of the catch and prefer to get a photo of themselves with their catch prior to release. I fall into that category when Murray cod fishing with bait.

Best bait for Murray cod?

The number one bait for Murray cod would have to be a fresh bardi grub, followed closely by the readily available freshwater yabby.

Bardi grubs can be hard to find and are very expensive to buy, but they do work very well on Murray cod. The two biggest problems with Bardi grubs are the price and the carp! At $3-$4 per grub in some areas, getting snagged can make your relaxing fishing trip very unrelaxing. The dreaded carp also have a bit of a soft spot for a fresh bardi, so if you catch one on your bardi grub you will hate them more than ever!

Yabbies are an awesome Murray cod bait and the bigger the better. No yabby could ever be too large for a Murray cod as they have a massive bucket mouth and love a nice large meal to fill their stomachs. Unlike trout, which graze on small nymphs and grasshoppers all day, Murray cod like to get their feeding over and done with in as few meals as possible so that they can then go and sit under a log and digest their food. So don't be scared to tie on a massive yabby.

Where to fish?

Snags, snags and more snags! My old man use to say to me "When cod fishing, if you're not getting snagged you're fishing in the wrong spot". Murray cod have earned the nickname "river dwelling log hogs" for a reason! That is because they love to sit close to logs. Like many of our native fish, Murray cod are an ambush predator, meaning they like to hide under logs and ambush their prey. They will sit under a log waiting for a food source to move by, and then dash out quickly, grab the food and make a mad dash back to their log. This is the reason they don't nibble on bait or tap lures, they smash anything put in front of them!

So look for a nice hole in the river with plenty of snags and make sure you fish as close to the snags as possible. The water does not have to be very deep, but from my personal experiences it is the deeper holes that tend to produce the larger Murray cod.

What Rig?

I love the paternoster rig. This rig allows my bait to sit up off the bottom in clear view of the Murray cod. With my sinker I like to use the smallest sinker I can get away with on the day depending on the conditions and I like to use a larger hook of around 5/0 size as I find larger hooks tend to lip hook Murray cod better, allowing for catch and release fishing. A running sinker rig will work well with a bardi grub, but when using yabbies they tend to dig themselves into the mud and hide. They cannot do this with a paternoster rig as they are suspended off the bottom.

So, in a nutshell, look for a deep hole with plenty of snags. Fish close to the snags with a paternoster rig using a large 5/0 size hook and a fresh bardi grub. Make sure you have strong heavy line... and hold on tight!

Photo courtesy of Rod Mackenzie.

Photo courtesy of Rod Mackenzie.

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