Cold Weather Cod
  |  First Published: August 2008

The Brisbane River is an amazing fishery with an abundance of threadfin salmon, jew, snapper, bream, whiting and flathead but the one species that regularly get overlooked is the common old estuary cod.

On recent trips to the river we’ve encountered unseasonable numbers of excellent sized river cod while fishing for the more sought after species like snapper and threadies. While the snapper and threadfin fishing throughout winter is top class the estuary cod usually ‘go off the bite’ so to speak, but not this year. Estuary cod live throughout the tidal reaches of the river and are one species that like to ambush food keeping close to structure like rocks or pylons. They readily eat well presented live baits and love being teased with artificial offerings.

Cod to 3kg seem to be in plague proportion around any of the rock walls and shipping terminals towards the mouth of the river. The larger fish to 10kg+ (or whatever your tackle will hold) tend to hold deeper on rock ledges such as those around Claras Rocks and Pinkenba or around the bottom of the pylons of the shipping terminals towards the mouth. Cod aren’t the best fighting fish once they have been removed from there structure but the initial few seconds and their eating quality make them a worthy adversary if you are that way inclined.

Fishing techniques for the cod in the river will vary depending on what type of structure you are fishing. Most of the visible rock retaining walls can be successfully live baited or worked with a variety of soft and hard artificial baits. It is around the deeper ledges and pylons where fishing becomes a bit tricky.

With live baits you must position the boat far enough away (up current) to feed the bait back to the structure and allow enough distance to pull the cod away from where they live. Big cod know where home is and will destroy any angler that’s not ready for them.

Good live baits for cod include legal bream, large mullet and river perch. Larger live baits are better in the river because catfish, which can be in plague proportion, they love devouring small live baits.

When using soft plastics or vibration style baits for cod, the trick is to be ready on the electric motor. Big cod seem to hit like any typical bottom dweller that we have in the river – THUD! But keep in mind, cod are ambush feeders and will eat just about anything that is presented to them. The key is to be ready on the electric motor and lock up your drag to pull the cod away from the structure. Once the cod are away from their home they tend to give up, go into the typical ‘cod roll’ and the battle is won.

The basic retrieve method for soft plastics or vibration style lures is to cast around the pylons and rocks trying to keep your lure in contact with the structure. Using a basic lift and hop technique allowing your lure to settle onto the bottom with every hop seems to entice the cod to bite. Trolling or casting lures along the rocky banks is also worth trying if you don’t have an electric motor but you must have a lure retriever handy, as you will get heaps of snags when bouncing the rocks.

All in all, I hold these fish highly on the eating side of things and a very worthy challenger. It is worth getting out onto the river over winter chasing a cod or two, or at present as many as you can stop.

Until next month…


A good eating size cod taken on Ecogear 4” Single Tail 1/4oz jig.

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