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Perfect times to camp and fish
  |  First Published: April 2004



APRIL certainly signals the changing of the seasons. I just love it around this part of the world, when the days are very settled, 25°to 28° and the featureis week-long high-pressure systems and cool nights to make for great camping weather.

If I could recommend anglers when to go on a camping trip, I’d say this is the pick. It’s a great time for our natives, the trout become far more active in our lakes and they are in top condition.

On the rivers and lakes, Murray cod are usually at their best. The rivers are naturally low or have been dropped by the irrigators, giving us usually clear waters. The better water clarity certainly tips the odds in the lure fishers’ favour and it really isn’t surprising that this month some of the biggest cod are taken.

The upper Murray above Hume Weir, particularly from Jingellic to the old Dora Dora pub, should turn on some great cod. The water will be low and boating tough. Bait like bardi grubs will always be reliable but for those with a little more energy, casting lures up tight to the willows will work.

In the slower water away from the current, hard-body lures will be great, particularly those in fluoro green/yellow with black bars. Anywhere around the faster water, spinnerbaits fished slow in tight to structure will reign supreme.

From below Albury on the Murray down to Bundalong, the situation will be much the same. This is really the only time when it is possible to confidently catch cod trolling and casting in the main river, with the smaller creeks an exception. The lower river levels finally make it possible to troll without the current pushing you backwards. The normal torrent is gone and there’s no better time to explore these waters that rarely see lures.

It certainly isn’t deep water so you are best to keep your lures in close to the boat. Plenty of big cod are taken in this water, particularly from Howlong down. Angling clubs at Jindera, Howlong and Corowa have been restocking this section of the river with cod and goldens and anglers are reaping the rewards.

There are good numbers of fish there and the clubs that have given their time and money deserve a big thanks and our support.

But this water really cops a flogging from set-liners, who take the monsters at night on the green cords and then claim to be heroes. When commonsense finally prevails and NSW dumps this form of ‘meat gathering’, this fishery will go from strength to strength.

MULWALA CLEARS

There will be far less water flowing into lake Mulwala and with a few weeks of settled weather and no wind, water clarity should improve to make lures the better option. The lake just hasn’t fished as it should have this season, with long hours between fish. Maybe the ‘kill, kill, kill’ mentality that many anglers still have has caught up, or the excessive pressure over the past four seasons has made the cod very wary of boats and lures.

Deep-trolling the channels is likely to be the best technique to get numbers of fish this month, particularly if the weather turns cold early. The Murray channels, in particular the big and small horseshoes, are likely to be your best areas.

It is important to have your lures down bumping the timber and if you can still keep your speed to a bare minium, even better. Lures like the new AC Super Deep 90mm and the newly released Deep 30ft 70mm Invader, the 100mm Jumbuck and 90mm Humpback are perfect.

When the cod are in lockjaw mode I have been downsizing my lures to pull fish when all else has failed. A couple of years ago when doing it tough in clear water in the Mulwala Classic, I caught two cod over 60cm on a tiny 50mm Deep Knol’s Native. I replaced the standard hooks with one big No 5 treble on the back. I fished a light 6kg Platypus Super Braid main line with a very short 15kg mono leader and was still able to get my lure banging in seven metres in the channels. A couple of other lures, like the Super Deep Whitmore Shrimp, 30’ AC Invader and 60mm Minnow are other lures that will serve the same purpose. Certainly worth a shot when the fishing is tough.

KHANCOBAN BROWNS

Khancoban’s brown trout usually fire up as the colder nights make them more active and a far easier proposition as they start to feed up big. April certainly isn’t regarded here for its great numbers but patience is usually rewarded with plenty of fat fish to 3kg. Trolling with minnow lures over a weedy bottom will take fish for the first two hours of daylight and the hour before dark.

Mudeyes fished below floats are more likely to take better numbers. Up the river end of the lake is the best area. Locate the channels with a sounder and then fish back over them with 2kg to 3kg mono with a hard bubble float and a tiny split shot 20cm above the mudeye. I’ve found the big couta mudeyes best on a No 12 fly hook.

NEW LURES ROCK

A great new lure for chasing natives is the new Craft master Turtle from John Bennet. It has an 80mm body, aluminium bib, a huge bum on it and casts like a rocket. It flies through the air truly and has a very distinctive bum-up shuffle. Last season I used a couple of the timber prototypes and the yellowbelly loved it. It’s now in production with a couple of rattles in it and will become a casting classic.

About six months ago I talked Anthony Curtis of AC Lures into upsizing the bib on the 70mm Invader so that we could troll slowly with an electric out west on the Murray and still get the lure down to eight metres. Anthony has done this and we gave the Invaders a good swim at Glenbawn and Windermere on the deep fish and we did well on bass and yellowbelly.

Since then Andrew has slightly changed the bib so that it could better cater for those anglers who like to troll fast. I took Anthony on a canoe trip on the Ovens River to give the new bib a work-over just recently and we cast up a few nice river cod. These are genuine crash-divers that get down to business. Out west on the Murray, Rod Mackenzie has been putting them through their paces and they have come up trumps.

1

Low water levels on many of our rivers will see many cod caught on lures this month. Russel Taylor shows off a 60cm cod which fancied a red Knol’s Native.

2

The protected trout cod have certainly made a comeback. Many people are still mistaking them for Murray cod. An overhanging top jaw and the black markings make it easy to recognise the.

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Big Murray cod will be highly sought after this month. This big fella took an AusSpin Big Native.

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