The chill of the chase
  |  First Published: August 2007

Through sleet, wind and heat we have chased the beloved Murray cod under varying weather –but frozen rod guides would have to be a first!

Casting the Murray River at first light, not 10 minutes in and we have already landed a monster cod. After a quick round of photos, the fish is returned to the water, pick up the rod, down with the thumb bar and let drive towards the next snag – nothing. On closer inspection, the wet line wound onto the reel before the photo shoot had frozen into a single lump!

The guides along the entire rod length were now small balls of ice. This was a first and a good reminder to all the so-called expert ‘wishermen’ that cod are happy to work and feed in cold water, even if fingers and fishing gear are not.

It is a great time of year to be fishing as long as you can tolerate the cold and the notable absence of annoying petrol heads roaring around the river.

Winter is a time to work lures slowly and expect big results. So far this season we have experienced some of the best personal big-cod captures in memory.

Golden perch have also been willing participants with most sessions providing easy bag limits.

Exact locations are as many as the places we’ve fished. Robinvale, Wemen and Mildura, all on the Murray River, have produced good results. The Edward, Wakool and Murrumbidgee will also produce good fish in winter for those who venture out.

Spinnerbaits have been among the best means for both cod and goldens with the new Codman series proving their worth. Large hard-bodied lures are also scoring well, especially on the bigger cod.


And while the fishing in most areas is hot to trot, it seems that most fishos are content to chase the great run of Murray crays that are scuttling along the bottom of the river.

The Murray cray is a wondrous work of nature. When captured, they have the dislikeable temperament of a disturbed wasp’s nest and an arsenal of formidable claws and spikes to back it up. Of all God’s creatures, Murray crays would rank highly as prime candidates for anger management as they snap and grab at all who venture too near.

The one downfall these armour-plated crustaceans exhibit is that they are a culinary delight that makes them a highly sought-after prize.

From Swan Hill through to Wemen and beyond, the morning frosts have triggered a great run of Murray crays. Anglers using fresh carp for bait have reported good numbers of crays in most areas fished.

With plenty of large females in the mix, things look good for the future. Remember, all crays in berry must be returned to the river. Don’t take them back to camp to show your mates because if Fisheries intercepts you on the way, you will be deemed in possession of illegal fish and fined accordingly.

All the excuses in the world won’t cut it. A quick look, a photo if you like, then back in the river where they belong.

Prime locations for Murray crays include large clay banks and areas of rock. Crays will eat a variety of different fleshy baits but if there is one bait that excels above all others, it would have to be carp. The mud suckers can be hard to acquire at this time of year but it is well worth the effort to obtain some. Liver is a good standby substitute.

Good fishing can be expected up until the end of the season, so get out there and brave the elements. Don’t be coerced into believing that native fish shut down during the winter, it is simply not the case.

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