Blades make inroads
  |  First Published: April 2009

A record hot spell and poor water clarity has put a dampener on the enthusiasm of most lure fishos over the past month.

The chosen haunt of many has been inside in front of the air conditioner, where they ponder what might be happening on the water.

It’s been a good move on their behalf because the fishing has been tough with reward for effort falling well short on most occasions. With only a couple of big cod reported lately, golden perch have made up the majority of on-water action.

Lipless cranks and blades are still making big inroads along the Murray and while they may be old school to some, they are all the rage with others.

I, for one, am impressed with the variety of fish that will scoff blades, even the very small ones.

We have taken silver and golden perch, carp, redfin and, on a couple of occasions, hooked giant cod that have cruised back to cover none the wiser of being hooked.

This is a hazard of fishing light spin gear, but it’s what’s needed to effectively fish and feel their small profile and action.

While the bigger fish have been reluctant, plenty of small cod have been taken on bait right the way along the Murray from Swan Hill to Mildura.

Most of these fish have been caught in the current-run sections above the pool water. It seems wherever there is plenty of flow, there are also plenty of small cod.

Bardi grubs, cheese and scrub worms have been the best baits for cod while shrimp and small yabbies have accounted for some solid golden perch.

Silver perch are about in plague proportions and their voracious appetites would rival that of a large school of famished piranhas. Still protected, you have to wonder when the ban will be lifted on these annoying fish.

With the weather starting to cool, we can expect the fishing to improve over coming weeks. Big cod will become a frequent catch as anglers spend more time on the water trolling large deep divers.


Under near-record temperatures, every living thing is affected, not least of all fish.

Several years ago, under similar circumstances, we witnessed a major fish kill on the Darling River where hundreds of large Murray were found floating dead in the numerous waterholes.

This kill was in direct alignment with a flush of water sent down the river to refresh the holes that, in most cases, lay several hundred metres apart.

If you can imagine the water slowly traversing its way across the dry river bed where sand and soil were baked in temperatures over 40°, you could possibly understand what it is to tip a kettle of hot water into a fish tank.

Of course, like most major bungles, the accountability was washed away with the remnants of a generation of giant Murray cod.

It was hoped this kind of senseless disaster would never be repeated, but it seems those who control our water are a little slow to catch on.

Tim Betts, local farmer and keen fisherman, has a 2000-acre property that backs onto Merran Creek and the Wakool River. Tim believes he lives in the greatest place in the world, where he can pop down to the river and catch a cod whenever he pleases.

Imagine his dismay when he visited one of his favourite spots to find several large fish floating dead. On further inspection, he counted 30 large Murray cod in a 2km stretch of the Merrin, some 25kg or more.

What a senseless waste that begs the question: Who or what could be responsible for such a catastrophe?

The answer to this parallels the Darling River incident.

A flush of water was sent down the Merrin creek to replenish the holes; once again it was done in the middle of a heatwave.

Tim said that not only did it kill the fish but there seemed to be no shrimp left in the river, either. With the water at 33°, it’s fair to assume that not much would survive.

Tim said that with all the great work in recent years with restocking and the like, it just seems so wrong. How can we as anglers, farmers and ratepayers have any respect for those who would destroy in one fell swoop what has taken years to create?

It will be a generation, if ever, before we see the return of such fish to this water. As it stands, this section of the Merrin is dead.

Tim reckons it’s a sad day when his boy loses the right and opportunity to experience these giant fish first-hand. With one flush, the hopes and aspirations of those who respect these waters are all but gone.

Will there be accountability for this latest fish kill. Or, like every other foreseeable act of stupidity, will it be put down to unforeseen circumstances where no one is to blame?

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