Cod-botherers busy in the new season
  |  First Published: February 2017

Catches since the opening of the Murray cod season in the ACT and NSW in December certainly bear out the claim that this is the ‘year of the cod’. Stunning catches have been reported from many waterways and the average size is outstanding.

There are several reasons for this: good spawning conditions during the past few years have resulted in excellent natural recruitment, there have been numerous successful stockings of rivers and impoundments with hatchery-raised fingerlings, widespread catch and release practices have resulted in more and larger fish in many locations, and, finally, there has been an excellent food supply in the form of carp and redfin in most areas.

All of this brings together a favourable environment for cod. This is unlikely to change significantly until there is an event such as a major drought or food supplies are compromised after the release of the koi herpes virus, which is expected to remove a significant proportion of the carp population.

Significant Catches

In the ACT there have been some excellent cod caught in the Murrumbidgee River and to a lesser extent in the urban lakes. The Murrumbidgee has had a good flow this season because of continuing rain in the catchment. Fish migrating up from their winter home in Burrinjuck Reservoir have penetrated considerably further upstream than in previous years, notably into Government-owned nature reserve and national park country. This has provided anglers with more opportunities to chase river fish, as access to much of the river is normally blocked by private property.

Lake Burley Griffin has been the most productive of the local lakes, with some nice fish being taken on spinnerbaits and deep divers as well as scrub worms, wood grubs and live yabbies. Blue green and other algal blooms have rendered some of the lakes unsightly and that is a turn-off for some anglers. Lake Ginninderra and Yerrabi Pondage have been particularly badly affected.

Googong Reservoir has been one of the more pleasant places to fish. The lake is full, the water is clear and there have been some massive fish to 135cm taken on surface lures and deep divers. I tangled with one monster that ran me all over the place before I finally lost it in a snag and estimated it as easily around the 1.5 metre mark.

Burrinjuck has been the most productive of all the regional lakes, with numerous fish in the 75-95cm range and a surprising number over a metre. Mick Wenning is currently out in front with a fish of 132cm. The best fish have been taken on larger lures, including Timberflash, Jackpot Wake Bait, Akame, Shad Alive, Kong and Koolabung. Spinnerbaits also have accounted for some good fish.

Goldens Active

The hot weather has kept golden perch on the move. A local competition stimulated a lot of interest in the fish and the techniques used to catch them. A 10-week lure-only Burley Bash for golden perch and redfin in Lake Burley Griffin organised by local entrepreneur Adam Samios attracted nearly fifty of the best local anglers. The primary round was won by Chris Skillin, known affectionately as ‘Chickenchucker’ for his past predilection for catching Murray cod on chicken breast, before he switched to lure fishing. The final was won by Rob De Groote and both he and Chris shared handsome prizes of cash, lures and other tackle.

Trout Concern

On the trout front, anglers are doing reasonably well trolling small gold Shad Alive and yellow-winged Tasmanian Devils in Eucumbene, Jindabyne and Tantangara. There’s increasing concern about the small size and general scarcity of rainbows in all of the lakes and adjacent streams. There seems to be plenty of tiny, parr-marked fish in the creeks and rivers still swollen with rain, but they don’t seem to translate later into larger fish in the bigger waterways.

NSW Fisheries is well aware of the situation and is planning to stock more rainbows than usual this year in the big lakes. They will also have a look at the genetic profile of the existing rainbow populations, wild and hatchery, to see whether any changes can be made to the brood stock.
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