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Murrumbidgee River – the unsung hero
  |  First Published: February 2005



The bush telegraph sprang to life with the news that fish were to be had in the Murrumbidgee.

With our regular haunt, the Murray River, being choked by a cloud of silt it was decided we would investigate the validity of these statements. We had heard that the yellas were really firing and that the water was crystal clear. Being lure fishing fanatics, this was all we needed to hear to get the blood pumping and the following day we headed off in search of our quarry.

The search

Driving along the Sturt Highway with nothing to look at apart from the red dust that is prolific in the area, it is easy to begin daydreaming about greener pastures. However, as we neared the river, the river red gums came into view weaving their course signalling an oasis that needed our attention. Within a few brief moments we had acquired permission from a local property owner to launch our boat and begin our quest.

Gaining permission proved to be the easiest part of all as we were soon to find out that launching any boat on the banks of the Murrumbidgee was a major task let alone trying to launch larger water craft such as ours. After meandering along the river’s edge for what seemed like an eternity, we came across one of the only gentle slopes that would accommodate our needs.

Boat launched and rods loaded, we set off in the hope of a fish. It didn’t take long for our lures to be devoured, and within moments we had a nice little cod posing for the mandatory photographs. This was too good to be true, after not knowing what to expect from this somewhat smallish waterway our minds were set at ease and the constant attention our lures received were testament to the quality of the place.

The Murrumbidgee has always been out of the spotlight as a serious sportsfishing destination, being shadowed by the more commonly visited Murray River. Over the next few trips, however, we were to find out that this little river is worthy of great applause.

Spinnerbait central

The river is littered with timber giving the fish ample spots to ambush their prey, also providing endless opportunities for an unwary operator to test his or her prop to the limit.

Casting to these snags can be a very exciting and productive way to spend a morning or afternoon session. When casting to these snags we have had tremendous success using spinnerbaits. These flashy little items cast in tight against the bank structure are unbeatable and golden perch, as well as cod, just love them.

Casts for goldens need to be extremely accurate as we have found that if your cast’s aren’t centimetre perfect your lure will go by unnoticed. Right in tight against the bank, under or beside the timber is the best bet, as they don’t seem willing to come out after your lure.

Always click your reel into gear as the spinnerbait hits the surface, as a lot of strikes will be received before you get to turn the handle. As for the cod they will turn up almost anywhere from the bank to the boat as long as you are working the timbered areas. Spinnerbait selection is one of personal preference, but due to the shallow nature of the areas you will be casting look for the lightest one you can find.

Trolling

Trolling is our preferred method for targeting the cod and this little river lends itself well to this practise. Due to the smallish nature of the river I believe it to be advantageous to use an electric motor.

We recently had a trip with two boats, one running an electric motor, the other a four-stroke outboard. Needless to say the electric motor dominated proceedings as the hook-up rates were far greater when using the stealth of the Minn Kota.

There are numerous rockbars and clay banks in the river and these are prime haunts for the resident cod. If you have located a good looking lie and haven’t received a strike on the first pass, make certain you exhaust all angles and thoroughly work an area before moving on to new ground. Sometimes annoyance can be the troller’s best tool when trying to prompt a strike.

Good lures for this river include Codseekers, AC invaders, Codgers and Pegrons. One leg up I can offer to those looking to fish this river is the use of metallic pattern lures. These lures have accounted for numerous fish here and the Australian Crafted range is some of the best I have seen.

The future

Angling clubs have done an exceptional job in stocking this river with native fish to maintain the fishing it provides. If you are fortunate enough to catch some of these stocked fish, catch and release is the best option.

These fish aren’t just here by chance, and a lot of hard work has been put in by caring people. It would be a fairly safe assumption to say that these people would soon become disheartened if for all their efforts these fish were senselessly slaughtered.

The Murrumbidgee River no longer need hide in the shadows of the Murray River, as it has proved to be every bit its equal in regards to the sportsfishing it has to offer. Whether you are a fan of casting or trolling lures, this little gem has everything you could possibly ask for in a fishing destination and then some. Make the effort to visit this special little river and I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Remember too, though, fish for the future not the freezer.

Facts

ACCESS

Accessing this river can be somewhat of a dilemma as it predominately runs through private property.

If you are fortunate enough to convince one of the local property owners to admit you access, make certain you do all the right things and observe any requests put to you. As the old saying goes, ‘it only takes one to ruin it for everybody else’.

For those looking to make a day trip or in need of modern amenities the township of Balranald offers a caravan park with boat launching facilities.

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