Cod carnage to continue
  |  First Published: March 2016

Summer is done and dusted and what a great season of fishing we have had in the Wangaratta area.

There has been no shortage of cod caught over the summer months, however the average size has been well down this season. Well, at least it has for me anyway! I know a few anglers have caught some good fish in the Ovens River catchment, but I have not been one of them and my largest in this area being 59cm this season so far. My mate Graeme Anderson caught a whopping 105cm Murray cod right here in the middle of Wangaratta on some KFC popcorn chicken over the Christmas period, what a ripper of a fish! Graeme released this fish, which is good news.

Just because it’s the end of summer does not mean it is the end of the fishing. March can be a great month to catch cod in the Ovens River, however it can also be a tough month.

March usually sees the start of the ‘all or nothing’ type of unpredictable fishing patterns, which the Ovens River is known for during the autumn months. As the water begins to cool, the cod fishing starts to become hit and miss. The hit can be great with some of the best fishing all season, and the miss can mean absolutely no fish whatsoever. As we head into April, this pattern becomes even stronger, but I will go more into that next month.

I don’t like the King River a great deal during autumn. For some reason the fishing there seems to slow down much quicker than the Ovens. I do fish it, and I do catch a few cod, but I find it is much more unreliable during the ‘cooling’ time of the year.

The Ovens River upstream of Wangaratta is well worth fishing during March. This is the time of year when the water clarity is usually at its peak in this stretch of river. The fishing can still be quite good and reasonably reliable throughout most of March.

In the really clear water, I like to use darker natural coloured lures. I have a strong preference for olive and green type colours in clear water. The olive Bassman ‘Yellaman’ series spinnerbait is a lure that has served me well in this section of river.

Downstream of Wangaratta is probably the most predictable part of the Ovens River catchment when it comes to March cod fishing. There is no doubt many theories as to why this is, but my theory is that it’s because there is so much more water down there. The river is much wider and the holes are a lot deeper, meaning the water takes a lot longer to cool down during autumn. When it comes to fishing we are all theoretical geniuses, and develop our own beliefs. Mine may be wrong, but that’s my theory and I’m sticking with it!

The further downstream along the Ovens River you head during March, the better the fishing seems to be. The water will not be as clear down there, but will certainly be clear enough. Bright coloured lures should work well in this section.

While the cooling water spells the beginning of the Murray cod slowing down each autumn, it also spells the beginning of the trout speeding up in the streams. As the water in the streams cools down a little bit the trout begin to get more active, and more willing to feed. Towards the end of March, we may even see a few trout start to migrate upstream to begin their annual spawning run.

By the end of March water temperatures in the small mountain creeks are usually not much of a problem, it is more the stream flows that are the biggest concern. This is heavily dependent on rainfall. Decent rain in March can trigger some fantastic trout fishing in the creeks and rivers.

This time of the year I really like fluorescent coloured bladed spinners. I also find that March is a great time of the year for my favourite Royal Stimulator and bead-headed nymph fly fishing combination.

Bait fishers should try floating crickets downstream. March is the time of year when there are heaps of crickets around, and drifting an unweighted bunch of crickets into a deep pool can be wonderful fun and highly successful.

As I write this report, many of the small creeks in the region are really struggling for water. Some are even dry. We really need some decent rainfall soon in order for the coming autumn to produce decent trout fishing.

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