Clearing up for the open
  |  First Published: December 2015

The Murray River has experienced a high flush of water in the run-up to the cod opening. This is most certainly an environmental push, and the dirty water has meant that most fish have been caught on bait.

In truth, the poor water clarity has provided the perfect conditions for bait fishos and those chasing the calm backwaters have had some very good catches of perch. All fish are opportunistic feeders and golden perch are no different as they scavenge the fringes of the backwater flows searching out an easy meal.

Worms have been a favourite bait under such conditions and will generally tempt a bite over other baits. Under high water conditions most fish will hold and feed out of the main flow where they can either sit and wait or move freely, unrestricted by heavy current.

Here much of what they eat is delivered on the edge of the current line, falling to the bottom in the calmer backwaters. Golden perch freely patrol the calm and are quick to hone in on any fresh morsel delivered. Silver perch, too, will patrol these areas and can become quite annoying as they eat every bait that hits the water.

Backwater can be found in many locations but those areas that roll close to snags are prime locations to start. Cast your baits to the small calm patches of water that generally sit close to the timber. If there are perch there, it won’t take long to get a bite and it’s nothing to pull several fish from the same spot. After the bite tapers off, seek out a new spot with similar features and start again.

A typical rig for perch will consist of a small ball sinker that runs directly to a number 2/0 hook. When you do get a bite form a fish make sure to be patient, as perch will often mouth a bait before deciding to eat it.

River shrimp and small yabbies are also excellent perch bait as are the oversized scrub worms that are almost as thick as your finger.

Smaller undersized perch will sometimes swallow the hook right down. When this is the case just cut the line close to the fish’s mouth and release it. Most fish will pass the hooks with few problems.

Of course, carp will be ever present as the waters continue to warm and they too have enjoyed the high dirty flows. Remember not to leave these unwanted fish in piles on the bank as the smell is not that great for other anglers fishing these locations. Carp make great yabby bait and garden fertilizer, other than that it’s not hard to dig a hole and bury them.

It’s been a seemingly long wait but the cod season is once more upon us with plenty of angling options available for those eager to land a cod. The Murray River at Swan Hill is well worth a look and the cod fishing has continued to improve no end over these past few seasons. Other bonuses include the close proximity of several other cod waters that include the Wakool and Edward rivers. Add to this the Kerang Lake system and you are smack dab in the middle of a cod fishing Mecca, and a lot if it has hardly been scratched.

Boundary Bend is another spot that has continued to improve on the cod fishing scene these past few years. Regular catches of smaller fish up to 90cms are a great sign for the future of this area. Robinvale, Euston, Wemen and beyond are all Murray River locations that continue to produce good captures most seasons.

With the river on the fall it shouldn’t take long for the water clarity to improve and the cod should once again start to smash lures. My advice is to get in early as it won’t take too many weeks to re-educate cod that have not seen lures for a while.

Good luck for the cod open and I look forward to our next report and the multiple big fish captures I am sure it will contain.

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