A 100% full Lake Mulwala greeted excited anglers at they converged on a windy Yarrawonga for the traditional Murray cod season opening competition, the Cod Classic. With 2660 competitors, this competition is becoming a ‘must not miss’ event for many anglers. Competitors travelled from all states of Australia to try and tackle the magical green fish. Just quickly, 375 legal-sized cod were caught between 2660 anglers. On average each cod took 113.5 hours of effort to catch.
Apart from cod opening weekend, reports of fish haven’t been coming in at a great pace from within the lake. The two most notable captures (and releases) have come from illegal setlines that have been set within the boundaries of Lake Mulwala. First a couple of locals came across a fish of 1.3m struggling on a setline. Then a crew from Albury found another fish of the same size that had fallen for the same trap. Credit must go to both groups of fishers who found these fish struggling, released them and spent time with them until the fish were healthy enough to swim away again.
There has always been an argument about the correct thing to do if you come across illegal fishing gear. Legally, you cannot touch set lines, cross lines or drum nets in Lake Mulwala down stream to Tocumwal without being in breach of regulations. There’s an ethical dilemma though when you find these barbaric fishing tools and wish to rid them from our waterways, and take them away from the illegal meat gatherers. Also remember that if the owner finds you tampering with them you may have a fair old argument on your hands. The best bet is to immediately report them to fisheries.
The weekend after cod opening, 12 blokes from Finley and Albury came together for their annual social competition at Bundalong. For the weekend they cast up 14 legal cod with Dean McGuire latching onto and landing a ‘magical mark’ monster of 1.1m at the junction of the Murray and Ovens rivers.
The only other good fish I have had the pleasure of seeing caught was taken by Doug Patterson. While out casting surface lures on a perfect summer evening, Doug got a surface strike that sounded like a 100 year old gum tree snapping in half. After a brief fight that included the trebles from the lure being ripped through the leg of Doug’s waders, a great fish of 96cm was landed.
Those that have been out throwing surface lures have been getting a lot of strikes, with the average landing 3-4 fish per night. The only problem with these fish is that the majority are 30-45cm. This is a fun way to target cod but be careful in the dark as it is very easy a fall on a slippery log and end up in the drink.
Downstream in the river, local gun Joe Linehan has been having a lot of success casting spinnerbaits from the bank searching for yellowbelly. Fish to 3.5kg have not been uncommon. A monster 63cm yellowbelly was reported to the crew at Intents Fishing Mulwala. Apparently this fish was taken on the Sunday afternoon after the competition. A ‘yella’ of this size around is rare around this area, but would tip the scales at around 7kg.
I had a couple of nephews come down from the Gold Coast for Christmas. They had never caught a cod before so we headed down river for a spot of baitfishing. After two hours we had managed ten small trout cod and two Murray cod to 40cm. After this we went for a quick cast and picked up a couple more small cod on spinnerbaits.
For those baitfishing in the river, the numbers of small trout cod attacking your bait will annoy you but for young kids it’s a good way to keep them entertained for a while.
The next month or so should see the lake fishing best from Majors Creek and above (up to Bundalong), while the river will turn up plenty of fish for the baitfishers. If you are planning a trip here to do a spot of ‘quiet’ fishing, keep in mind that every waterskier from Sunbury to Bunbury is here as well - so your peaceful trip may be blown out the window.
In early February we have the Wilson’s Reel Women’s Cod Classic (8th-10th) followed by the Lowrance Da$h 4 Ca$h Super Series (17-18 February) offering more than $10,000 in cash and prizes. For more information give me a call on (03) 5744 1667.
If you do come across a good fish around the Yarrawonga/Mulwala area, I’m keen to hear about it and will try to report it in future editions. Send all reports to --e-mail address hidden--Reads: 928