Big cod are getting smarter
  |  First Published: September 2006

Just when you think all the big cod have diplomas in lure recognition or, even worse, have been ripped from the river, think again.

If you take the time to slow down a little and approach things a little differently, you might just be surprised at how many big cod still reside in our local waters. It’s been a strange old season and as we draw to an end and reflect on past years, there is no doubt the big fish that remain in our rivers are becoming wiser in the way of the angler and therefore harder to deceive.

Our past two trips to the Murray River before the seasonal closure produced no fewer than nine cod, of which six were over a metre and the remainder in the mid to high 90cm range. All big fish, and all caught in heavily-fished waters trolling or casting lures.

The deciding factor in these captures was noise, or the lack thereof. Nine years with nothing but an electric motor have provided many valuable lessons, not least being that big Murray cod are easily spooked when it comes to unnatural sound or vibration.

With very few boats on the water during the Winter, those that do fish do so in a natural setting where the fish are far more at ease.

It’s food for thought next season. Regardless of the time of year you are on the water, go about your business quietly and you will see and catch far more fish.


With cod out of bounds for the next few months, anglers will have to turn their attention elsewhere. As the weather begins to improve, you could do far worse than target the early run of golden perch in our rivers.

A week of warm weather is all it takes to bring the goldens on and once they start, they are easily caught after the down time of Winter.

The action usually begins in the shallower sections of river. Below the loch at Euston, downstream to Wemen and beyond, is a prime section of the Murray to explore for early goldens. Fish the shallow snags using shrimp or small yabby and worm cocktails.

It looks as though we will head into Spring with exceptional water quality in most local rivers. This should provide an excellent opportunity to also target these fish on soft plastics, something that has yet to catch on along the Murray. Small hard-bodied lures and spinnerbaits should also prove very effective.

Redfin are another viable target as the weather starts to warm. The three major lakes between Swan Hill and Kerang produce quality size and numbers of these excellent table fish every year.

Lake Charm would be the pick of the three for consistency, making it a popular destination. Shrimp are the No 1 bait in the lake, followed by whitebait, worms and yabbies. If water clarity permits, lures and soft plastics can be very effective.

With the exception of cod over the coming months, there are still plenty of options on the local scene. With the warmer weather just around the corner, all looks set for some excellent fishing.

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