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Things quieten down
  |  First Published: July 2003



Although the fish we’ve landed of late have been consistently bigger, the numbers are starting to slow down a little so, the tactics are going to change a little now.

If you want to connect to a big cod during the Big Chill, the dams are the go – and you’re not affecting wild fish trying to get the reproductive thing in swing. Big fish that are trying to condition themselves for spawning are susceptible to stress and we should avoid handling them. Why this happens exactly no one really knows, but I don’t risk this negative effect on possible breeders. At this time we cant afford to risk one breeding fish’s contribution to stocks . Its sad to say that dam fish don’t spawn and for this reason I target impoundment fish.

The dam fish have the same urges as wild fish and go about building body fat and condition as a preparation for the natural urge that will never be fulfilled. I know many anglers who stop fishing during Winter and focus on other species altogether, yet some of my biggest cod have been caught in impoundments during Winter.

Sounders are a big plus for the dams and no sounder-free lure angler could even consider competing against a vessel with a sounder fitted. Regular fishing partner Shane Roulston, has his Bass Pro Hornet fitted with a Lowrance X75 and the detail and definition this allows us makes this unit indispensable. To easily distinguish logs and rocks from fish is just one factor in the hunt for cold-water cod. A good sounder helps the angler find a big fish and make multiple trolls or casts right in its face.

Precision with presentations is extremely important when focusing on a single fish. Due to the slowed metabolism rates during the colder months, a big greeny won’t travel too far to hit a lure or food item and this is just one reason for the sounder.

Structure assessment is another big benefit. Are you fishing fine-twigged treetops or substantial logs and rocks? Bigger fish like bigger structure and this allows an angler to become even more precise with his or her target areas in impoundments.

Braid vs mono

I have been mucking around with the old braid-mono comparisons lately and have been taking two outfits with me. To be able to form an unbiased opinion about anything you’ve got to try all of the options and compare notes with people who do the same, having an open mind to variations and specifics governing a product’s relative benefits.

Speaking with respected gorge cod specialist Jamie Flett, our conversations often get back to this line comparison. Jamie has the educated and creditable opinion that around rocks, Platypus Lure Line is far ahead of anything else. So I got hold of some to give it a go. The first trip using nylon for many years, saw the perfect trial fish for the comparison, along with several other smaller specimens.

A bruiser of around 25kg nailed a 3/8oz double-Colorado Bassman spinnerbait hard up in timber and proceeded to drag me all over the place, yet never really taking much line. He just dragged my little Koastal Kayak where he wanted to go. I tend to go hard on structure-bound big fish and the stretch factor had me feeling a little uneasy at first, but it didn’t take long to get used to. I was using a little Calcutta 150 spooled with 10kg Lure Line over a 6’4” Strudwick 4kg stick.

Lower rod angles when fighting a fish allow an angler to put the brakes on much more firmly when fighting oversized fish in comparison to the gear being used. Being on my own meant having to take pics of the big fella in my kayak. I splashed water all over the inside of the kayak to prevent damage to the fish’s protective slime layer and proceeded to take some pics we published last month. The big fella decided to bung it on and tried to turn my 6’4” rod into a four piece tomato stake as he kicked around on top of it for a few seconds. He did manage to bend the handle on my reel but thankfully the rod came out unscathed.

Next outing saw a different location for the second part of the trial. This time, I used a Shimano Calais spooled with 10kg Bionic Braid and a prototype two-piece rod. After finding the head of one pool, I dropped a 5/8oz spinnerbait in close to the logs. As the lure fluttered down through the timber, all came tight and a cod of around 4kg was landed and released in seconds. Thinking that the chances of another fish from the same spot were pretty remote, I casually pitch-cast the spinnerbait into the same spot and watched as the lure flutter down.

A big shape charged out, grabbed the lure and headed into some nasty country. The fight was probably only 10 minutes but felt like 30 as I slowly worked the cod back through the maze of timber he had just threaded my line through for about 10 metres. The 24kg Platypus Pretest leader was copping a real workout as we debated the direction he should be going. As he emerged from under the logs, I couldn’t help thinking he was the shortest, fattest Murray cod I had ever encountered.

At around 22kg, he was also the strongest for that size I had encountered. He did get me back, though. Just as I was releasing the thumb grip from his bottom jaw, he clamped down and spun, ringbarking my thumb in the process. A big boof-headed fish that uses dirty tactics usually wins the debate in tight cover with light gear and I couldn’t help admiring him as he swam off.

The verdict? The big fella on braid seemed to fight much harder than the bigger fella on nylon Whether this was the accentuated feeling of braid making the battle feel more direct and intense, or the tenacious attitude of the second fish, I’m not sure, but I do believe the braid to have many more benefits when fishing timber-laden areas. And I would have to agree with Jamie of the benefits of Lure Line around rocks and the like.

Trespassers

We found a lure hanging from a tree at a spot I fish not long ago. The bloke who was using it must be braid-illiterate or not care about lost lures and fish, The line was Fireline in whipper-snipper gauge, and had a $3 ball-bearing swivel connected straight onto the braid and lure. A disturbing fact here is that the bloke was trespassing and the property owner was very interested to find out that someone had been sneaking on and will be keeping an eye out more so than ever.

If you don’t have permission to access properties, don’t. If you do sneak on, you are not only a law breaking, inconsiderate fool, but also asking to be charged with trespass or worse by justifiably frustrated landholders. Some people have been writing falsities in fishing media circles for a while now, saying that if you are within the high water mark you are legally accessing a river. This could not be further from the truth as many properties, the one mentioned included, are on older forms of title and lay claim to the centre of the river as well.

captions

1

This cod ate a double-Colorado spinnerbait and took the author’s braid through about 10 metres of snags.

2

Not quite big enough to eat a sheep, but a rabbit isn’t out of the question!

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