It’s hard not to get all caught up with the mighty Murray cod, as they have so many attributes that flick switches for anglers. For me, aggression and attitude are high on the list; seeing a big one follow and miss a lure at your feet, fins all erect, turning this way and that, looking, searching, like a junkyard dog that’s just ripped the backside out of an intruder’s trousers.
Chasing cod in January is best done during low light periods. Early morning, late afternoon and into the night, they are more likely to move away from cover to attack a well-worked lure. When conditions are really good, they may even move right away from cover and actively hunt for food. These times can be gold.
Surface lures are a great option for covering open water under these conditions. Fish will move quite a distance to seek out and investigate the noise and disturbance, and I am sure that the competitive nature of cod in a riverine environment can lift the aggression levels quite a lot.
During periods of more intense light, casting accuracy and presentation are a lot more critical; pinpoint in fact. In the rivers and creeks, pitching spinnerbaits, skirted jigs and big plastics to heavily shaded cover can work a treat. It’s real lock ’em down, drag ’em out stuff, and to use the junkyard dog analogy again, it’s like dragging those torn trousers past his kennel super-fast on a piece of rope.
Cod in an impoundment share all the same mannerisms, it’s just that the environment is different. There’s more water for starters, deeper water, and a bigger spread on the fish. You need to adjust to suit, so intelligent trolling can be very effective. Use your sounder. Let me say that again, use your sounder. Get to know it, experiment with it, become comfortable with it, and your confidence will grow. A good sounder and the nous to interpret what it is showing will increase your capture rates tenfold. It’s the most important piece of non-fishing equipment in your boat — period.Sometimes trolling over a piece of good structure can put cod off, especially on heavily fished waters. Come back a few hours later, pull up well short, drift in on the breeze, keep any movement inside the boat to a minimum, have your casting lures ready to go, and work it over with long casts. This extra effort can make all the difference, believe me.
For anglers at Thompsons Creek Dam, the soft sound of a trout sipping off the top in the black of night is something to behold. “About 25m to the left,” you think. Pick up, make the cast, strip, strip — bang, you’re on! Next thing you’re trying to manage those loose loops ripping through your fingers while a kilo or so of muscle goes ballistic in the inky blackness.
Dragonfly larvae (mudeyes) will be number one on the trout hit list, although beetles will be a close second. A fly imitating either one of these, or a tandem fly setup with both, is pretty hard to beat. Daytime anglers need to work deep, cold water for best results, casting and slow rolling plastics, while spoons and Tassie devils are another option worth trying. Don’t be afraid to rip the spoons up, letting them flutter on the drop.
Impoundments such as Ben Chifley and Burrendong can be quite busy at this time of year. Despite the holiday traffic, it doesn’t seem to worry the redfin population much. I have had some mad deepwater sessions with ski boats roaring past. I much prefer a quiet backwater like most, but if you can get past the noise and are catching fish, well that’s all that matters.
Very early morning is the go, before the rabble get up and going. Find your schools and work them over. It’s great for the kids, with plenty of action to keep them interested. Most fish will be small, with a few better specimens thrown in. Fast, vicious jigging with a thump back to the bottom is the key at this time of year. A real bonus with redfin is how good they are on the plate; the bigger ones fillet well and are absolutely delicious when lightly seared on a hotplate with some butter and lemon juice — yum.
Not quite held in quiet the same regard, especially when it comes to table quality, carp are another introduced species that anglers are targeting more and more. They offer quite a bit in performance, are abundant, can be sight-cast in clear water, take flies and lures readily, so why not take full advantage of the resource. Just remember to dispatch the fish humanely and throw them well away from the water.
Hope to see you on the water soon; until then, tight lines.
Daylight hours and a high sun calls for plenty of skin protection for anglers, and cod are no different. They might not get burnt, but they love the shade of a log or rock to get under or beside. A careful, silent approach and a pinpoint cast can have them chewing like mad.
Josh Hutchison of the Aussie Fly Fisher has announced a great initiative, naming a couple of young up-and-coming anglers as apprentices. Some tackle companies have come on board to help out, and Dean McMahon was lucky enough to be asked. Let’s just say he has taken to fly fishing in a big way, with some great captures in a very short time.Reads: 514