Autumn cod begin to fire
  |  First Published: April 2016

The season has been very good so far in our local waters, with numerous big cod landed on bait and lures. Word spreads fast where fishing is concerned, and a hot bite will often draw anglers from far and wide.

A few years back I had the pleasure of fishing the Murray River near Wentworth with one of the Top End’s most celebrated anglers, Alex Julius. Alex has spent a lifetime fishing for all manner of catch, but he is best known for his barramundi exploits. He is a regular on the NT News and owns the widely read NAFA magazine.

Now you might wonder why someone with so much red hot fishing in his home waters would travel south to catch fish. The answer to this is the iconic Murray cod. Julius admits since landing a 1m+ model on his last visit he has been keen to return and see if he might better his catch. He had been watching with interest numerous big fish reports through social media, and decided to head on down and try his luck.

The method used was trolling lures deep amongst the twisted snags where these giant fish so often hold. Julius reckons he has always been lucky when it comes to big fish, and a string of oversized river barramundi to his name is proof enough of his boast. It seemed his record of big fish was destined to continue as not 20 minutes into the trip his StumpJumper lure was hit hard by what had to be a sizable fish.

The unseen cod refused to surface, instead holding deep and searching out the snags. Julius applied a little thumb pressure to the drag and stopped a run that might otherwise have ended in the timber. Then, slowly, the unseen fish was worked towards the boat before it popped to the surface in a swirl of water, kicked by a tail of oar-like proportions. We had trouble fitting the huge cod into the landing net and almost as much trouble lifting it aboard. A couple of quick photos and the cod was quickly returned to the river. Julius admits there is something very special about these fish and to land a monster of such proportions is something he has always dreamed of. Guestimated at about 40kg, he says it is the biggest freshwater fish he has ever seen.

We were lucky enough to catch two more sizable cod on our trip and a few smaller ones as well. Julius reckons the diverse size range from small to ginormous is a good sign of a healthy fishery. We also landed several solid golden perch, and all fish were caught on lures.

And so it has been along the Murray River this past month. Some days have been great, others have been quiet but those anglers trolling large lures have caught some very nice cod – it just comes down to time on the water and persistence. Make no mistake, barometric pressure has a huge influence on the bite. When the pressure has been high, the bite has been at its best. When the pressure has been low, the fish have been all but shut down. Timing is the key, and planning your trips to coincide with incoming high pressure systems will definitely increase your chances of coming up solid on a good fish.

With the irrigation season all but done, river stability will return to its normal pool level and the clarity will no doubt improve, as it has done in past seasons. As the water begins to cool the Murray cod bite will increase dramatically, with some of the season’s best fishing expected during the autumn months. It’s the same every year – as the willow leaves turn to gold and fall, the big cod seem to kick up a gear and feed up in preparation for the cool winter months.

The hot run of golden perch is continuing in most areas of the Murray River, from Swan Hill through Robinvale all the way to Mildura and beyond. Bait anglers have revelled in the excellent fishing opportunities, with many saying it’s as good a season as they can remember.

All up, the fishing has been great in our local waters this past month and it should only get better as we cruise through the expected autumn bite.

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