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Cod feed up for Winter
  |  First Published: April 2004



WE'VE had a lot of Murray cod around lately, presumably feeding more heavily than usual in preparation for the coming Winter. There have been lots in the 35cm to 50cm range in the urban lakes and larger specimens in Burrinjuck, Wyangala and Googong.

In the urban lakes, Ginninderra, Burley Griffin, Gungahlin and Tuggeranong, the fish have taken small to medium deep-divers, yabbies and even small spinning-blade lures meant for redfin. Local enthusiast David Baker, however, has proven the point with spinnerbaits, taking seven fish in nine days.

Spinnerbaits are successful for a variety of reasons. They can be cast long distances, can be worked close to the bottom where the fish are sitting and, more importantly, can be worked slowly in murky water to give the fish plenty of time to see and take them.

Another developing trend has been to use large surface lures late in the afternoon or at night. The best of these has been the XL Jitterbug, especially in black or yellow and black. It weighs only 35g but it can be cast well out from shore and creates an enormous amount of splashing and sploshing on retrieve. It has taken cod up to about 11kg recently but one angler has been busted on heavy tackle in Lake Burley Griffin late at night by what sounds to be a very large fish.

GOLDENS MOVING

Golden perch also have shown a lot of late-season activity. These are a highly migratory fish and about now they will try to move downstream from our lakes as soon as there is any significant rain. They gather at the dam walls and go through or over the barrier as soon as there is a release of water.

As in previous years we can expect significant mortality among those and one of these days we will invent a safe barrier for them to negotiate on upstream and downstream migrations. In the meantime, we have to live with the losses and stock extra fish accordingly, but at least we know where to fish for them at this time of the year.

REDFIN GALORE

The big surprise this year has been the humble redfin. They breed in immense numbers and usually are an embarrassment until the EHN virus takes over in mid-late Summer and wipes out much of the population. This year it doesn't seem to have happened and we still have vast hordes of the fish in all of the local lakes. The ‘kids’, including a lot of blokes well into their 60s, have had a ball with them, taking huge hauls on spinning blade lures such as Celtas, small spinnerbaits, soft plastics and small minnows.

Most of the fish are 10cm tiddlers but every now and them somebody strikes a school of kilo- plus fish and they have enough for a feed. The fish are delightful to eat and around here are considered the best of any of the local species. Beating carp in the eating stakes is easy but beating cod, golden perch and trout is quite an achievement.

The best way to prepare them is to knock a fillet off each side, skin the fillet and take out the rib cage, then grill them on foil with a light brush of (for me) low-cholesterol margarine. Delicious.

By way of contrast, another of our colleagues, of Indian background, sun-dries the small redfin with oil and garlic rubbed in, then eats them as beer snacks. Haven't tried it yet because I'm not a beer drinker but would appreciate comment from anybody who does.

MOUNTAIN LAKES

In the high country anglers have been swimming in the uncharacteristically warm waters of lakes Eucumbene and Jindabyne – but that is about to change as we see the frosts and even early snowfalls make their mark.

The fish which have been sulking in the depths in recent months and reachable only with downriggers and lead-core line will be back in the upper layers and in easy reach of fly and lure anglers.

We will shift from standard waders to neoprenes and gloves any time now and it could well be rum instead of Chardonnay. Ah! How the seasons change.

A GOLDEN RETRIEVER

It's always nice to get a win, even if it takes a couple of decades.

About 25 years ago, a couple of young Army officers, moonlighting in the commercial world, came to see me with what they said was a new type of lure retriever. After some hesitation, because I had been offered numerous useless or near-useless retrievers over the years, I tried it, found it worked like a charm and agreed to help them publicise and sell it.

It was, of course, the famous Tackleback, undoubtedly the best lure retriever on the planet today and the source of untold joy to many anglers over the years as they rescued from the most terrible snags a beloved and hard-to-replace lure.

The Tackleback came in two sizes but I said at the time there was a need for a much heavier one which would be especially useful for getting down quickly to a deep snag in a drifting boat being buffeted by the wind or current. It would also have application in deep saltwater locations.

As it turned out, nobody took any notice of my suggestion but for the next quarter of a century I kept badgering the makers or suppliers for that heavier one.

Miraculously, last month it arrived: A big, fat, heavy, working Tackleback in exactly the weight I had suggested. I don't even know who makes the device these days because I think the original inventors have moved on to other things but the new model is in the tackle shops right now and a worthy investment. Well done, somebody.

NASTY SURPRISES

I was not overly surprised at the report of a piranha being found in the Thames River in England recently. Piranha are highly sought after by the more boof-headed of our aquarists and in past years have been smuggled into many countries, including Australia, from South America. I think there are about 49 species of them, of which about eight are flesh eaters and the rest vegetarians but the Serrasalmus most desired is an unfortunate look-alike for the common, innocent and much-fancied Matthinus or Silver Dollar. In the past it has been easy to slip a handful or three of the prohibited import piranha into a shipment of the legally-allowed Silver Dollar, then grow them out and separate the flesh-eaters for resale at large profit.

Recent changes to quarantine procedures have made this more difficult but I have no doubt it still goes on. For more proof, perhaps we should be looking for any four-fingered aquarists amongst our fish-fancier colleagues.

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