A cod for Christmas
  |  First Published: December 2006

Murray cod season has finally arrived and I’m as excited as a kid on Christmas Eve.

The opening to the season is shaping up well with recent releases from Wyangala and Burrendong dams sending down much-needed water to both river systems. How long this goes for is anyone’s guess because the dam levels are very low. Anyone watching Two Men and a Tinnie on ABC TV will know how much the Darling River is in trouble with minimum flow, algae blooms and the stress this must cause the fish.

We really need to start looking harder at what we are doing with our water. Another concern for me is our Murray closed cod season – it makes no sense to me. For introduced trout we have a totally closed season with no fishing, yet for native Murray cod we have a closed season but people can still be on the water fishing.

I recently went through Narromine and had a look at the water at a few different spots and there were boats and anglers everywhere. If we are going to go to the trouble of having a closed season then shut down the river system so there’s no fishing.


With the recent releases the Macquarie is at its highest level for a long time but this will fluctuate so check the water releases before you go. At the start of the season the Macquarie will offer a lot of small cod between 30cm to 50cm, especially on bait like strips of steak, wood grubs and worms.

If the shrimp start running then they will be your best bait. Always chuck your shrimp trap in and if a heap of them show up, put them on a hook.

Trolling and spinning will be best early in the morning and late in the afternoon. When the weather is really hot, present your baits were there is shade and often the fish will be right on the edge of the shade.

I have heard that some cod are starting to be caught down at Long Point, near Orange. I grew up listening to stories of huge cod coming from this section but like many other areas, it was taken advantage of and the introduction of carp saw the end of this fishery. This is one place I would like to see stocked regularly.


The Lachlan has also had recent releases which have done a world of good. I recently went over the Lachlan at Cowra and for the first time in a long time I couldn’t see sand.

The Lachlan will offer some great yellowbelly fishing in December.

At Hillston the water has risen and is still reasonably clear. A few yellowbelly and cod have been caught and released with baits such as worms and grubs proving the most successful.


At Bourke some nice yellowbelly have been caught around the Nineteen Mile Reserve on bait and lures, with the river starting to clear. A bit of weed is in the Darling and it needs a good flush to get it flowing again.

This month the best fishing will happen early in the morning and late in the afternoon and this will continue over the next few months of hot weather.

The Barwon will start to clear, providing some excellent fishing with a chance of a monster cod.


Wyangala and Burrendong dams have been fishing well with silver perch and yellowbelly being caught mainly on worms and yabbies. At the moment lures are a little slow but this should pick up this month with cod and yellowbelly becoming more aggressive with the increased temperature.

If you want to chase yellowbelly on lures, Windamere appears to be the place to go at the moment. It seems that Burrendong has gone from being a redfin Mecca to become a serious native fishery. The Murray cod must be smashing a lot of small redfin because there are not many reports of redfin being caught there – great news for this dam.

Expect plenty of little cod like this one to kick-start the season. This was the author’s first cod on opening weekend 2005.

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