Cod back on the agenda
  |  First Published: December 2003

HOT, DRY conditions should greet the opening of the Murray cod season at the beginning of this month.

Now that I have predicted dry conditions, there is every chance it will rain, going on my traditional weather-predicting skills. This month I certainly hope I can bring rain – there has been very little in recent months. With local impoundments low, the rivers are suffering the effects of small release rates.

With the rivers being low, the water warmed relatively quickly and some good fish were caught into November. At the time of writing, however, it seems the low water levels have produced some inconsistent results for anglers trying their luck on the rivers.

Hopefully this month should see some increased flow. With a lot of river systems starting to clear, there should be some good lure fishing for local native species.


Those fishing the Darling River in early November found things reasonably tough. Starting to clear in places, the Darling yielded a few sizeable golden perch and the occasional Murray cod that was released. Goldens to a kilo were taken on small yabbies, worms and shrimp, and on lures where the river had cleared sufficiently. Apart from the odd small rise, the Darling has remained very low for some time now. The low water levels have resulted in a lack of activity from native fish. Many anglers have reported that the carp have been strangely quiet, too.

The low river level should see native fish holding the bottom in the deeper holes. The next three months tend to have very hot weather, so be prepared. Fishing early and late in the day tends to produce the best results although fish will often have a quick bite right in the middle of the day. Yabbies, shrimp and worms should provide the best chance of fish.


Things have been very quiet over the past month due largely to the Lachlan River remaining very low. A few golden perch to a kilo have been reported and the odd cod to 5kg were taken on worms, shrimp and yabbies.

The water allocation for the Lachlan is relatively low for the upcoming months. The warm to hot weather will quickly heat up the river water, more than likely resulting in docile native fish.

This month target deeper sections of the river or areas where moving water drops into deeper water. These areas offer fish the most protection and more oxygen. Try to fish the shade where possible and target fish with worm, shrimp, yabbies or lures.


I watched an interesting show on ABC-TV’s Catalyst recently that detailed a study on the gene pool of the Eastern freshwater cod. The study showed how these fish face a thinning gene pool. Researchers maintained that the continued restocking of cod into some areas had increased the population the genetic diversity was lacking.

This may seem unrelated to fishing on the Macquarie River but a recent email from a local angler got me thinking about these issues. Adam Piddington, 15, of Narromine, recently caught a 20kg Murray cod on worms. Having photographed the fish, Adam took care to revive it and see it swim away.

The Macquarie River is home to some large cod and, yes, it is also stocked from time to time. So it stands to reason that every time we kill a large (old and probably wild fish) cod we are doing our bit to thin the local gene pool and make the local population more vulnerable. That being said, well done Adam, firstly on a great catch and secondly on letting it go. You may have done more than you realise when releasing that fish.

The Macquarie should continue to fish well through the ensuing months depending on flow rates. As the river clears, lure and bait anglers should do well. If you are on the look-out for bait, call Brett at Inland Fishing at Narromine on 02 6889 4477.

I wish all a safe and happy Christmas and hope you get plenty of time to wet a line through the holiday season.

George Louden with a Darling River golden perch taken trolling the deeper sections of the river.

The opening of Murray cod season will see a lot of anglers on the water and good numbers of juvenile cod, such as this one. Take care when releasing these smaller fish so we get the opportunity to see them again next season.

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