Crazy action on the codlets
  |  First Published: February 2017

This summer has been all about Murray cod fishing for me. I have been giving the local Murray cod population hell since the season opened in December.

I spend a lot of money on petrol heading up into the hills chasing trout all spring time, and then once December arrives I can go fishing in my local waterways, which are less than five minutes from my front door with very little fuel costs or time wasting.

Without stretching the truth, I have probably been cod fishing on average five nights a week so far this season. I have been sneaking down to the Ovens and King rivers about half an hour before sunset, flicking a few lures around until about half an hour after sunset and then coming home. I love it! And to top it off, I have caught an absolute truckload of both Murray cod and trout cod this season. Most have been small, however I have caught one that was within the 55-75cm slot limit, and one that was over size at 85cm.

I have had a few reports of trout being caught in the upper reaches of the Ovens River around Bright, and the far upper reaches of the King River above Lake William Hovell, but on the whole it seems like just about everybody that I know has been cashing in on the Murray cod fishing bonanza that we have been experiencing here in Wangaratta this summer.

In February, I am expecting the cod fishing to still be really good, however towards the end of the month as the nights start to get longer and the water temperature just starts to lower a little bit, the Murray cod’s metabolism may begin to slow down, which may lead to a slight slowdown in fish activity. In saying this, I want to put emphasis on the word ‘slight’ as I am not expecting the Murray cod to shut right down unless we get a deluge of rain and unseasonably cold water. This slight slowdown should begin in the second half of February when the nights start to get longer and possibly a little bit cooler.

Throughout February, all of the usual Murray cod fishing techniques should work anywhere in the Ovens River system. Casting hardbody lures such as Wilson Slickbacks and StumpJumpers should work, so too should casting spinnerbaits and soft plastics.

Everybody’s favourite Murray cod fishing technique in the Wangaratta area, surface luring, should still be quite effective through but all of February, with the evening twilight period being the best time of the day.

Bait anglers should do really well in February too, with worms, bardi grubs, small yabbies and cheese all being good bait to catch Murray cod. Worms and cheese seem to catch a lot more smaller cod than they do bigger cod, whereas a large bardi grub or very large yabby may help you find a larger cod.

February can be a great time of the year to torment the region’s redfin population as well, with Lake William Hovell being the most respected redfin fishery in the catchment. There are squillions of small redfin in Lake William Hovell, however for the patient angler there are also a few quite large redfin in the lake, which are usually down a little bit deeper.

Lake Buffalo has declined somewhat as a redfin fishery in recent years, most likely due to the stocking of golden perch and Murray cod, however there are still some really nice redfin in there for anglers willing to search for them. With golden perch and redfin both having very similar diets, it is common to catch one species while targeting the other, and February is a good time to catch both.

Lake Sambell in Beechworth still has some good redfin in it, as well as quite a decent number of golden perch.

Towards the end of February, as the nights start to get longer, we should see a slight cooling of some of the regions trout streams, particularly the higher altitude streams.

Up until Christmas the streams all had a terrific summer flow of water, much more than we have seen for several years. The water was warmer than preferred for trout; however the flow was well maintained by regular showers of rain, ensuring a decent survival rate of trout throughout the summer months. Then, a deluge of biblical proportions between Christmas and New Year sent a huge flush of freshwater down the system, which would have no doubt triggered a short-lived feeding frenzy. So, by late February the streams should still have quite a good flow of water that should be beginning to cool down, which could lead to some great autumn trout fishing in the Ovens River catchment. Hopefully, this may well start towards the end of February.
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