THE SILLY SEASON has again rolled around in a flash and with it brings another Murray cod season.
The first weekend of the season, December 6 and 7, will no doubt see many anglers converging at Mulwala to fish the Cod Opening Classic. This year all Murray cod must be released, which is just fantastic, and I really hope it all goes well. I’m convinced that the hardest cod to release is your first and I have no doubt that many competitors will be doing just that.
What a superb example this comp will set and as a strict catch-and-release cod angler, I can only hope that other clubs which hold comps targeting cod will take note.
Mulwala should fish reasonably well, especially if we can string a few fine weeks together. Last year the lake was very dirty and things were tough for lure anglers. In the years previous, we had plenty of great sessions casting around the shallow banks early in the season.
We have had great success on spinnerbaits, particularly when the water has been coloured. Gold blades reflect far greater light .On the opening weekend in 2001, Ben Sandman and I played around with blade colours under equal circumstances and the gold was by far the most successful, with six cod to one on the silver.
Hard-bodied lures that cast well and don’t dig down too deep on the cast will work well in the shallow areas. I recommend the 60mm Invader, Legend Billabong, the 75mm Knol’s Native and the 70mm Stump Jumper. The deep channels that wind throughout the lake are always worth a look, though it really depends on where the cod will be. Big divers that get down over six metres and dark contrast shades will be your best bet.
Although Mulwala generally fishes best around the shallow banks it can be handy to keep a check on the water temperature, especially if the weather has been cool. Temperature changes of just a couple of degrees can make a big difference so keep an eye on that – the warmer areas will produce.
The river below Lake Mulwala usually fishes well this month. I’m a huge fan of this stretch, it’s a beautiful place to fish and the cod are plentiful. They aren’t big but they’re always willing and good fun.
The cod – and the trout cod, which have come back big-time here – find a bardy or a big scrub worm fished in the heart of any snag pile hard to resist. Make sure you do know the difference between the Murray and trout cod because the trout cod are totally protected and must be quickly released unharmed.
The yellas down here can fire as long as the water levels are not dropping. Bobbing shrimp and yabbies around branches and logs will most likely be your best bet, depending on the water clarity, but don’t discount lures. Casting lures up very close and tight to the bank and retrieving them very slowly, almost parallel to the bank, is always worth a shot.
If you stumble across a lagoon or creek that runs from the river, give it a shot. The water temperature is likely to be marginally warmer in these areas and they generally receive less attention. Stick to lures in the 50mm to 70mm range and fish them slowly.
Local rivers will be running high and relatively dirty this month but I have no doubt that with all the rain that we’ve had, the natives would have a great chance of spawning successfully. The Kiewa is running an absolute banker from the snowmelt up on Bogong and the chances of the cod spawning successfully are great. I cannot see it fishing well this month for the cod but when Summer well and truly sets in, I predict it will bring on a great season casting lures.
The Ovens River is also very high but I think it should settle nicely and the bait anglers will do OK anywhere from Myrtleford to Bundalong and the bardy grub will be king. If you stick to bait you could be in with a serious chance of getting among the cod.
I’ve just received reports of quite a few cod taken in the Murray around Albury, generally a spasmodic location. Local clubs like the Jindera and Howlong groups have stocked the waters in the past five years and the results are there to be seen and enjoyed. I’m sure that I, like most, just drive past and think there’s better fish elsewhere and miss what’s under our noses but this year I’m determined to get down there. The water is very difficult to fish because of the fast current but it really is just a matter of picking your areas and fishing with confidence. Heavy spinnerbaits like the AusSpin Big Native 1oz models cast in tight to willow branches should do the trick but bait is the norm.
The trout lakes, like Khancoban, will produce at dusk and dawn on mudeyes and fly patterns but persistence will pay. Dartmouth Dam is a tougher proposition but confident downrigging will pay off.
The trout streams should be great, particularly those hot evenings fly-fishing the evening rise with dries, or day time indicator nymphing. The Mitta, Snowy Creek, the Kiewa around Tawonga and the Nariel Creek should be worth a crack.
With water usually coloured this month, big spinnerbaits with Colorado blades will work well. This one took a 1/2oz Legend spinnerbait.
Casting spinnerbaits around the top end of Lake Mulwala can work well this month. Generally the cod will be in the shallower water and casting is a better proposition. The author took this one around drain lane in a metre of water.
Catch and release is catching on. It’s great to see the Cod Opening Classic at Mulwala turn total catch-and-release for all cod. It’s the best way to ensure good fishing in years to come.Reads: 691