Brave the winter chill for a Murray thrill
  |  First Published: August 2016

How much do you enjoy early morning rises where cold fingers fumble at the matches as you try to reignite the overnight campfire?

It’s always a chore, but one that’s needed to boil the billy and take the morning chill from the air. Heavy dews and frost dampen clothes and dull exposed skin to the point of pain, as you make your way out onto the water at dawn’s first light. There’s usually fog so thick you can barely see in front of you, as the first minutes of the day unfold.

By lunch, a sideways breeze too lazy to go around cools the enthusiasm and has you looking for calmer shores. Before you know it, the light has dropped and day’s end is forced by a sudden drop in temperature as the night air begins to roll in. All this for possibly one, maybe no chances a day! This is how many anglers might view winter cod fishing, and why so many pack the gear away.

I guess it depends how you look at it. The warmth of the early morning fire is a joy as fingers thaw to another brilliant dawn. The warm taste of coffee sipped to the rolling tune of butcher birds sitting high in the thickets and leaves. Giant gums hang hidden in the half-light – a living canvas against a back drop of fog. A quick wipe with the towel and the seat is dry, as the ice cold air breathes life into your lungs.

Winter is a season of honesty, as it wakes you like a good hard slap. You beg the morning unfolds at a slow rate, as it always holds promise of a canning strike from a giant cod. It’s a scene of calm that can turn to turmoil in an instant and you hang in wait on every cast for that exact moment.

The afternoon breeze signifies the days are short and the cool night air will soon see you back at camp warming by a solid wood fire. Here the taste of beer is rolled in laughter and conversation as yarns are swapped and catches relived.

There is much to like about winter cod fishing, not least of all the fish.

As predicted, the cod have started to move shallow since our last report with most catches now coming on the cast. Big is best, with lures over 120mm accounting for the biggest catches.

The barometric pressure continues to dictate the bite, and with relatively clear waters the larger highs have seen the fish reluctant to play. Big highs are most often in company of clear blue days with little wind. The clear waters are leaving the fish quite spooky under such conditions and they are biting best on a rising barometer with overcast conditions.

Talk about doing your head in… If there is a more pedantic fish on earth than large Murray cod, I would be very surprised. But love them we do, so we will suffer their finicky ways and reveal in the joys of capture when they come. Robinvale, Wemen and Hattah on the Murray are all producing cod on lures.

Perch have been a little harder to tempt with just a few reported on baits of shrimp or small yabbies.

I look forward to the coming month of winter cod fishing and the many joys this cooler season holds.

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