Angling yarns bend all boundaries
  |  First Published: May 2015

There is nothing better than a good fishing yarn, and those that stretch the length of the Murray are often in proportion to its size and the giant fish that lurk within. A classic cod yarn told to me many years gone is how Boundary Bend on the Murray River came to be…

Seems a Scotsman, an ex Highland hammer thrower known as Mac, lost his temper 1 day and in a fit took out his frustration by swinging a bullock chain around his head. When he let the chain fly, it went straight across the Murray and hooked a wild boar that was drinking by the water’s edge. As he pulled the pig across the river, a huge cod took it. Strong as he was, he could not pull that fish out of the river, so he hitched up his bullock team. In towing the cod out, he pulled the river out of shape, and that is apparently how Boundary Bend was named. At least that’s how the story was told to me…

There is poetic right in all fishing yarns, where the truth is often a little wider than the arms will allow. In truth though, I first fished the Murray River near Boundary Bend almost 2 decades ago. It was near the junction of the Murrumbidgee River where I trolled up several very nice cod, the biggest almost 20kg. I have many fond fishing memories on this section of the Murray, including some very nice catches of golden perch on baited hook. Shrimp/worm cocktails always produced the goods and on most occasions would easily account for a feed of fresh perch fillets. A little further downstream near Belsar Island, I was to hook my first giant cod — a monster by proportion weighing in at 86lb.

I recently returned to wet a line in the Boundary Bend area, and quickly discovered that little had changed other than my regular visits. The numerous rock bars and twisted snags were still home to good numbers of Murray cod and golden perch. Gone now is the heat of summer and the brisk chill of morning light sees fog lift from the water. Old haunts never looked better, as you wonder about the fish they hide.

Autumn is the season of change, where myriad colours usher in the pending chill of winter that is soon to come. Tangles of riverbank willows go from a healthy and rich green to a vibrant rusty gold as they shed their dress by the river’s edge. As the water cools, it’s a sure sign the start of the big cod season is close at hand.

Soon the bardi grubs will hatch — a heaven-sent bounty that seemingly has no set direction. These giant moths have very little eye/wing coordination as they randomly batter themselves in an aeronautical display of clumsiness. Drawn by light, many are tempted by the flicker of the riverside campfire, while others end up in the water where they become a welcome snack for a hungry cod.

Shrimp numbers now start to drop away. The staple diet of most native fish, these transparent crustaceans will become harder to find. In knowing this, the bite begins to rise in tempo as most natives gag on the dwindling chance to catch a feed.

Locally, the fishing has been very good, and should only continue to improve over the coming weeks.

The Murray at Swan Hill has seen cod to 70cm landed on both bait and lures. Perch, too, are taking baits in this area, with some good sized fish up to 45cm bobbed amongst the snags on shrimp. In the Wakool River at Kyalite, a few larger cod have been landed on lures, the biggest measuring in at 108cm. Perch are also biting, with a few on lures, but the best catches have come in on bait. Scrubworms and small yabbies have been working well.

The Edward River at Moulmein continues to be the rock of reliability, as it has for most of the season. Both cod and perch have been biting since the opening back in December, and little has changed. Cod to 80cm on bait and lures over the past few weeks, along with some solid perch, have kept fishos happy.

Back onto the Murray and from Boundary Bend downstream to Robinvale, anglers are reporting good catches of small to medium cod on lures and bait. It’s refreshing to see these smaller fish in the system, as it ensures the future well-being of the species and hints at the angling opportunities to come. Perch have also been caught on both bait and lures, providing a good mixed bag on most outings.

The Murray River at Wemen has dropped away, providing excellent casting opportunities for Murray cod on lures. Several solid fish have been landed over the past few weeks, the biggest of these being 118cm. Most have been caught in close proximity to rock bars, which are always a favourite haunt for cod.

Downstream to Red Cliffs, Mildura and beyond, there are increasing reports of large Murray cod on trolled lures. We have now entered big cod season, so the bite will only get better from here.

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