BEFORE my much-anticipated holidays rolled around, I decided that all my fishing during my time off was going to be from the canoe and I was going to fish new locations, not covering the same water twice.
It’s actually easier said than done. Whispers of good cod in lesser-known waters that take extra effort and planning were my calling and I made the most of it. One week I made five trips chasing the cod casting lures and we had some of the best casting that I have experienced. By the end I the week I was absolutely buggered and overfished (sounds hard to believe, doesn’t it!).
Canoeing for cod is awesome stuff and I easily rate it as my favourite way to fish but it’s bloody hard work and you really do deserve the rewards. I’m certain that very few anglers who fish these waters go to the effort of dragging the canoe along but all I can say is to give it a go.
My week on the water yielded 25 fish but it was my day with mate Aaron ‘Buckets’ Lezius that was memorable. After a couple of fishless hours, confidence was low but we kept plugging away. It was as though someone turned on a switch, because they went mad.
Buckets easily scored play of the month, which will take some beating. He convinced me to paddle off the river and into a big lagoon. The water was very dirty compared with the main river but there were a few big red gums lying next to a steep bank that had Buckets more toey than a Roman sandal. Immediately after a great cast, Buckets cursed: ‘bloody snagged before I started winding’. He then whipped the rod hard, which ripped it off the snag, and then he was hammered.
Braid ripped off the reel at the rate of knots and this fish buried him deep into the branches. I then paddled over to the snag, where a three- or four-minute, see- sawing battle began. Every time Buckets started getting somewhere, this fish just ripped more line back deeper into the snag. We kept changing angles of the canoe to try to get this fish to come out and finally it emerged and then it towed us away into the open. Buckets just couldn’t believe that we were actually getting towed.
I knew that this was big and that if we made it to the nearby shallow bank, we had him. After about 10 minutes I got two hands under the fish and cradled it over to Buckets. My mate was in shock, the kind that only big cod can cause. The fish measured 95cm, which is 18.6kg on the weight-to-length conversion chart. After about a dozen photos, it swam away in good health.
On our next snag, which was in a backwater next to a rapid, I came up trumps and scored a cod of 84cm, or 12kg, but after the earlier fish it really looked small – but I was still stoked.
We scored 10 cod, two yellowbelly and a 50cm trout cod, all taken on the heavy AusSpin Big native spinnerbaits, with the black and gold skirt the standout. We tried hard-bodies but you just cannot beat spinnerbaits in fast water. I still find many anglers still a little reluctant to use them but it really is just a matter of confidence. Many of my mates who fish them for the first time wind too fast, as if they were fishing a hardbody. It really is just a matter of really slowing things down and then cod will usually show you that they work. Don’t just take my word for it, give them a go.
The fishing here has really picked up of late. Water clarity is getting better by the day and, not surprisingly, the numbers of fish caught on lures is starting to justify efforts. There have been a few thumper cod around the Majors Creek to Bundalong area caught by casting lures in the shallow margins. But it really disgusts me to hear of one 25kg cod killed to fulfil nothing but an ego. The typical excuse prevailed: ‘Oh, it was my first one’.
March can be an interesting time here, partly because the fish can be spread, but once you nut out their movements it can be the best month of the year. By spread out, I’m referring to the fact that the cod can be holding in the shallow water (say .5m-2m) or in the deep channels down in 4-10 metres.
You can easily work out if they’re holding in the deep by the use of a quality sounder. There will be fish arches aplenty near the channel edges if they are holding deep. A slow troll with your lures just swimming above the bottom is always the best bet when this is the case.
I’m a big fan of trolling big lures that can seriously kick down deep on a short line. Lures like the 100mm Jumbuck, 90mm Humpback and the new super deep AC 90mm Invader are great for this and it makes trolling them close to the boat and still in the zone easy. Dark colours are generally best but if the water is clean, fluoro green can be a handy addition.
Anthony Curtis of Australian Crafted lures is now painting a very different green one, which is called the Babs Special. It’s a bright green/chartreuse colour with black bars but what sets it apart is the blue bottom. Last March when I first swam it here the cod loved it in the clean water.
Below the lake, the Murray should really start to pick up. It usually this month when irrigation demands are reduced so the water drops and clears. As always, there are plenty of small cod to be taken on bait but lures are just so much fun. Trolling lures close to the boat and weaving throughout the timber near the bank can be productive.
For those keener on casting, drifting down stream and casting around the banks can be great fun, particularly if the yellas are on the go. If you have an electric motor, great, but if not, an anchor is handy to drop down in the middle of some great snags.
Dropping water levels, which are always typical this month on Lake Hume, will generally have captures tapering off but that’s not to say that the redfin will not fire for persistent anglers putting in the hours. Bait-fishing with small yabbies and worms will be typical. You just have to keep moving from tree to tree and eventually you will strike the jackpot.
As for lure fishing to take on the reddies, there will certainly be no need to fish too deep. The standard minnow lures that run at three to five metres will be deep enough. The yellowbelly will possibly get into the action hitting lures on the troll but the redfin will be the best proposition.
On the trout front, the Dart will definitely be the best. Last March the rainbows really kicked into gear and it fished fantastically well. The early mornings and the last hour of light will always be best time for flatline trolling. Downrigging and lead-lining will be the best bets during the day and depths of 10 metres are most likely to be where the trout will be during the heat of the day.
Last year I finally got my hands on a few of those snap weights and gave them a run here with success. A snap weight is like a peg that pinches on your line with a weight attached which will determine your depth. The idea is to let about half your line out, then attach the snap weight, then let the other half out. Generally it takes your lure to the same depth as a lead-core line would.
When you hook up, its just a matter of winding the snap weight to the rod tip and quickly un squeezing it and then it’s a direct fight with the fish. It certainly is a very simple alternative that I can see myself using stacks in years to come.Reads: 416