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Take care releasing cod
  |  First Published: July 2004



SINCE my last report, it seems things have not really changed much.

Quality cod have been unpredictable, feeding where and when they see fit, regardless of water levels or barometric readings. Things that generally stimulate heightened feeding are having little effect this season and, to put it mildly, it’s bloody frustrating.

While I say this there have been a few nice cod taken on lures in the Robinvale and Wentworth areas, with two of these fish over 30kg. The good news is they were captured by thinking anglers and returned to the river for others to enjoy.

The bait-fishing has also slowed with most on the water flat out losing a bait, let alone catching a fish using this method.

While the fishing is a little slow, now seems as good a time as any to make comment on a topic that needs a little attention.

This involves the amount of time well-intentioned anglers have big Murray cod, or any cod for that matter, out of the water before their release.

Big cod may take on the appearance of tough, feisty critters but they are, in fact, big pussies. Out of the water, cod will stress and die quite easily if not handled correctly.

One fish observed recently was measured, weighed, videoed, photographed, then videoed again before its eventual release. The whole process took no less than 20 minutes and the outcome was a fish that really struggled.

This took place while both the water temperature and fishes’ metabolisms were down, the perfect conditions for releasing big cod.

If this same scenario had taken place a few months earlier, when conditions were a little warmer, this and every fish witnessed captured by this group would have died. There is no doubt their intentions were noble but their handling techniques fell well short of the mark.

HAVE A PLAN

If your intention is to release these big fish in the best possible condition, then time is a critical factor. Have a plan.

It takes only one angler to fight a fish. While this is happening, the offsider can prepare the camera, pliers, gloves and, most importantly, a wet towel to lay the fish on when it comes on board.

If you intend to weigh your catch, simply hook your scales onto the landing net when you bring the fish on deck.

Keep your hands clear of gill slits and support the fish’s whole body weight. Do not lift or weigh the fish by the head or gills.

When the weather is a little warmer, get in the water with the fish to obtain photos as any more than a couple of minutes out of the water in hot weather will see your catch of a lifetime turn into a pile of fatty fillets.

Catch and release is a great part of the angling package. If you are proficient at catching a particular fish, obtain the knowledge how to correctly handle and release it. It takes little effort to get it right and the results are very rewarding.

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