Surface poppers are one of the most exhilarating ways to catch Murray cod in the rivers around Tamworth.
When I’m targeting cod I tend to use jointed Jitterbugs, mostly because they can be cast long and accurately, can be retrieved in a vast number of styles and they have a reasonably high hook-up ratio because the back end of the body hangs low in the water.
My good mate Daniel ‘Boonie’ Crockett and I recently went out to experience the excitement of Murray cod striking surface lures. Boonie had never experienced this and was keen.
This trip proved most successful with five cod caught and released.
We headed west of Tamworth for about an hour to one of my favourite cod spots.
After a few minutes’ walk and a few dozen casts, Boonie had his first strike but failed to set the hooks. With the adrenaline racing, he cast straight back out and it wasn’t long before he hooked up the first fish of the trip and his first on a surface lure.
After a few photos, we released the fish and moved upstream to hunt for another one. It was great fun jumping rocks in the dark in wet shoes and it was also great fun seeing Boonie fall in!
Moving to the next hole, I made the first cast and retrieved the lure only a couple of metres before I had a strike – what a buzz!
In this situation if you don’t have a hook-up, it’s best to pause the lure, lightly twitching the rod – if you can overcome your excitement at getting the bite. I think the pause and twitch indicates to the cod that it has injured its prey.
This technique was successful for me when the fish struck again and was successfully landed. The other three fish were caught in similar fashion.
I prefer to use surface poppers in the early morning and any time after dusk and I have the most success when I cast towards structure.
When the lure hits the water, let it sit until the ripples are gone, which is about 20 seconds, then retrieve slowly. You need to make sure that you also pause the lure every few metres, which makes the cod think that the animal is getting tired and the time to strike is nigh.
My preferred surface cod outfit is a Live Fibre Blade rod of 5’9”, a Calcutta 150 reel with 20lb ultra-thin Super Braid line and a Murray cod Knotted Dog leader. This set-up allows accurate casting and plenty of grunt when you hook the big one.Reads: 2310