A road trip down south
  |  First Published: May 2004

I JUST got home from a trip to Sydney, Yarrawonga, Echuca and Dubbo.

Apart from a new vehicle trial (the old Subaru died a natural death), the trip also gave me a chance to have a fish with some new gear and catch up with some great mates.

In Yarrawonga, Tony and Vanessa Bennett made me feel right at home. Tony and Vanessa organise the Mulwala Cod Opening Classic on the first weekend of December as a local charity fundraiser.

My first thoughts on the river below the buoys were, “Holy Dooley, where do you cast first?” I forgot just what this river was like compared with our rivers up New England way. Huge logs and backwaters with amazing depth and terrific visibility were the norm along the timber-congested bank. Sand instead of mud was a nice contrast also, and explained the water clarity.

That first arvo saw two small protected trout cod and two small Murray cod taken on 3/8oz Bassman spinnerbaits. The white and purple skirt was the standout with a white Slider Grub trailer on the stinger hook. We did catch a few on the purple and brown skirt and the black with chartreuse tips also but they were generally in the dam or down deeper in the river on the darker colours. Brass Indiana and Colorado blades were the go in the lake and the river.

Around 2.4 to 3.5 metres of water was the best depth during my stay. A four-hour stint in the river on my final day saw Tony and I land and release five cod and four goldens, The cod were all babies around 49cm to 52cm but were still great fun. The goldens averaged around 1kg to 1.5kg and in the quick current gave a great account of themselves.

I was using a new rod from Pro Angler, a Stalker rated from 6kg to 8kg, and was surprised at its castability to grunt ratio. Many rods of this rating I find too stiff to cast accurately or gently enough over short distances. These affordable rods should gain a following fairly quickly.

Then I was off to Echuca to do some demonstrations at the Fishing Classic at Echuca, where there were more than 1200 entrants.


I was amazed to see how many Murray cod were taken on, wait for it, cheese. For crying out loud, angler after angler got up to accept their prizes and when asked what the bait or lure was that caught the winning fish, cheese was the most common response. The next thing you know Bega will end up releasing a range of ‘tasty’ lures.

The comp hard-luck story was a pearler: 10 minutes after the final weigh-in or measure-in, an estimated 18kg to 20kg cod, trolled up on a StumpJumper, was rushed in but just missed out. The angler was last seen charging down to the water to try and revive the beastie. The bloke didn’t go home unrewarded – Mako Eyewear had given me a pair of polarised fishing sunnies to give away to whomever I thought deserving.

Many fish were released and the anglers should be praised for their conservationist ethics.

The trip through the locusts from Echuca to Dubbo was, well, different. My hosts at Dubbo were George Louden and family of George’s Custom Rods, mad-keen fisho Swano and Paul McNaught, recently bitten by the fly bug.

It wasn’t too long before we were launching Swano’s tinnie and George and son’s Aqua 2 Koastal Kayak in a piece of river that just spelt big fish. The arvo was looking hard as the bum fell out of the barometer. Paul and son showed up just after our arrival and we all fished fairly hard for one small cod on a 3/8oz Bassman purple double Colorado. Next day was another barometric shocker and the pattern formed between strikes and miniscule barometric rises was interesting.

Thanks to the many people I met on this trip and the hospitality and support of Tony, Vanessa, George, Swano, Paul, Ashley Menzies, Ron, Jamie and many more.

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