In the last edition of QFM I mentioned the release of Mary River Cod fingerlings into Lake Samsonvale. These were supplied from the Lake MacDonald hatchery near Cooroy, and represent one of the more interesting releases carried out by the Pine Rivers Fish Management Association (PRFMA).
These beautiful fish are slowly making a recovery from dangerously low population levels, and the fine work being carried out by the hatchery and local stocking groups may one day see the species return as a major recreational target in Southeast Queensland.
Little is known about the breeding, survival and growth rates of cod in the Lake, but PRFMA member Ross Church has provided the following information on the species. This, and other interesting information, is available on the PRFMA website at http://prfma.tripod.com .
Mary River cod were once plentiful in the Mary River System and were possibly the same species of freshwater cod that used to inhabit most river systems in Southeast Queensland.
However, overfishing, urban sprawl and industrial development have reduced the natural range to the Mary River system, and this wonderful fish is now classed as an endangered species.
These huge, elongated, large-mouthed fish have a protruding lower jaw and are mottled in colours that can include gold, yellow, green, or brown with dark spots. They are known to grow to around 20kg, with unconfirmed reports by ‘old timers’ of specimens close to 40kg being landed in the Mary River in days gone by.
Hopefully, the Mary River cod stocked in Lake Samsonvale will breed and give a new generation of anglers the opportunity to fish for the largest freshwater sportfish native to Southeast Queensland.
Mary River cod eat freshwater shrimp, fish, crayfish, and even rats, lizards, birds, or any other small creatures that swim by during feeding time.
Two of the best baits for cod are live shrimp and large crayfish. Surface lures and large flies are also worth a try in the early morning or late afternoon, but heavy gear is recommended when fishing around the snags and cover that cod prefer.
Large deep-diving lures cast or trolled at very slowly can be effective, particularly if they have a wide action.
Braided lines of at least 10lb are recommended for trolling. Many successful cod fishers prefer 20lb strain and higher in order to turn the fish as quickly as possible when near structure.
Mary River cod are attracted to shady and protected areas such as rocks, overhanging banks, snags, deep holes, boulders, and submerged logs. When trolling through submerged timber make sure you have a lure retriever, or this may become an expensive exercise.
Cod naturally tend to be territorial, but they move downstream in autumn and upstream in summer. However, not a lot is known about their movements in Lake Samsonvale. They move around to hunt mostly at night, so they’re less likely to be caught in shallow open water areas during the day. However, it is possible that some of the upstream reaches and deeper holes of Lake Samsonvale could harbour cod. Areas with plenty of cover may be worth exploring as well.
Only one Mary River cod per person may be kept during an outing, but it is hoped that all anglers will release any cod they catch so that a breeding population can eventually be established.
Even though there have been over 13,000 Mary River cod stocked in the Lake Samsonvale over the past 10 years, they are rarely caught. There is some conjecture, however, that the occasional ‘big fish bust-offs’ reported by anglers could well be extra-large Mary River cod.
While the lake can be fished from the shore at a number of locations, the best way to try your luck for a cod, bass, yellowbelly, silver perch or other stocked species is to purchase a boating access permit from the PRFMA. Permits are issued on an annual basis, and application forms and information papers for the 2005/06 season (commencing May 4) are available at bait and tackle stores. You can also obtain them direct by contacting the PRFMA at PO Box 131, Lawnton, QLD 4501, call 0417 742 023, or email --e-mail address hidden-- . The forms and further details of the program can also be found at the PRFMA website at http://prfma.tripod.com
In my article on redclaw in the January edition of QFM, I suggested that modifications could be made to the inlet of traps to improve their ability to retain redclaw. It has been brought to my attention that this practice contravenes regulations pertaining to funnel traps. It should also be noted that redclaw cannot be returned to the water (including females carrying eggs and/or young), and cannot be used as livebait outside their natural range. I apologise for any inconvenience caused by this incorrect information and I urge readers to always check current regulations.
For more information about fisheries regulations and other fisheries-related issues, call the DPI Call Centre on 13 25 23 or visit www.dpi.qld.gov.au/fishweb. Complete copies of the Fisheries Act, regulations and management plans may be accessed at [url=http://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/].
MARY RIVER COD REGULATIONS
Minimum length -50cm
Bag limit - 1 fish upstream of the walls of Cressbrook, Hinze, Maroon, Moogerah, North Pine, Somerset and Wivenhoe dams, and lakes Dyer (Bill Gunn Dam) and Clarendon. Protected elsewhere in Queensland.
1) Mary River cod are slowly making a recovery from dangerously low population levels.