With the full crux of the summer/autumn sun sizzling down on the noggin of any would be fishos, it’s fair to say the cod bite has slowed to a trickle. Early January was unseasonably cool and the cod seemed to enjoy the break, chowing down on both bait and lure. These mild conditions produced as good a bite as I have seen for that time of the season.
Since then though, the full ferocity of the sun has kicked the water temperature up at the same time as slowing the fishing down. With the change, many big cod have become a little more reluctant to strike a lure, and in all truth it’s probably a good thing. Amongst the larger cod that have been tempted by lures, several have ended up floating down the river belly-up in the summer heat. Remember, under the new slot limit system, all cod above 75cm must be returned, even if they are stressed and refuse to swim.
Big cod going socks up is a genuine summertime problem that has few answers, other than to stop fishing deep water during the heat. Besides the visual floaters, several anglers have risked the gauntlet, refusing to waste their catch and opting to take it home. I fully understand this, but the rules are black and white and inspectors have a no tolerance policy when it comes to Murray cod offences. It may not seem right to waste the catch, but it is the law. These summertime cod deaths were a problem I raised at the initial slot limit meeting before the new rules were implemented. Like all things Murray cod fishing, you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.
On a brighter note, good numbers of perch have been biting along the Murray, from Swan Hill through to Robinvale, Wemen and beyond. Most have been landed on bait, with the humble river shrimp doing the damage. At this time of the year there is minimal cost for bait fishos, as the river is teaming with them. A $5 shrimp net will provide more than enough fresh bait, with a couple of dozen translucent shrimp generally kicking about in the net with each pull.
Several of these on the hook is a great bait for perch and cod when cast next to the timber. A single large shrimp pinned on the hook and lowered down and bobbed around the snags also works very well when rigged paternoster style. The sinker creates small puffs of silt as it bounces off the river bed, so any fish that come to investigate this movement runs smack into the shrimp that is hanging a foot or so above.
The cod bite has been better in the shallow, faster flowing sections of river. Several good fish have been landed in the Wemen area on both bait and lures, with no casualties reported, other than those that fit the slot limit that were kept for a feed. The lack of depth and more oxygen in the shallow, current-rich sections of river provide larger fish a greater chance during the heat. This is something anglers might want to consider when targeting big cod at this time of the year.
As we head into March and the weather starts to cool, we can expect to see the cod come back on the chew. All up, the season is going well, with a great start, a little lull in the heat, and no doubt a good bite to come. It looks like there’s plenty of cod fishing action to go.
Gareth Lynch with just 1 of many solid golden perch that have been biting at most locations in the warm weather.
Smaller cod have been on the chew in the shallower sections of river, with few if any casualties.
Glen Casey with a nice surface-caught cod taken on a 120 Koolabung Codwalker.Reads: 493