Christmas cod comes early

There is some great fishing across our region in both the fresh and salt water, most of it is right under our noses – we just need to learn how.

In the case of my most recent sampling of the excellent inland fishing for Murray cod, I have confirmed past knowledge of studies on this fish, learned some new 

lessons, and gained memories without equal.

I started by checking some old haunts that last fished well many years ago when lake levels were high enough to create ideal cod habitat along some steep rocky shorelines.

These spots are not secret, including the Bidgee Arm of Lake Burrinjuck where I hooked the giant mumma pictured, and in fact some of the first images of this fish that were posted on my web page were even GPS tagged!

But knowing where big cod live, despite popular belief, is certainly not the only key to catching one.  

In fact I can tell you now that thousands of people drive past them every day.  

For example there are monsters in Lake Burley Griffin under both bridges, at the Scrivener Dam Wall, on the new snags the 2010 floods brought to the east basin, outside the museum where the river channel cuts close to shore, and even occasionally under the jetties at Yarrulumla House!

These are but a few examples, and if you head out to Burrinjuck, Blowering, Wyangala, Googong, Lake Hume and more all have massive cod over the 100-pound mark.  

These fish move to the prime lies as water levels fluctuate, and they own that turf.

They are a little easier to catch when they first take up residence, however far from being stupidly aggressive, the biggest ones have become acutely aware of the sounds, shadows, vibrations and water movements around their homes. 

They know when an a electric motor, depth sounder or rattling lure comes ticking by and straight away become extremely hard if not impossible to catch.   

And they do, without question, get harder to catch each time courtesy of modern day catch and release.

Sure, occasionally they get caught off-guard and snap aggressively or hungrily at a loud lure.  

They will even swim over and take a yabby or worm that an unsuspecting newcomer has cast in, sometimes causing delight, but more usually resulting in a monumental bust off – big cod are very hard to bring in over a bank so a boat is best.

All this was reinforced to me when I got into a hot patch of big cod fishing in recent weeks.  

On one night cod tapped the flippers on the Hobie, at first I thought I must’ve clipped a floating log (it was five metres deep), but as I worriedly turned to look behind me a boil the size of my car appeared.   

Several minutes later another one inhaled one of the small redfin holding front of my kayak.  

The third boof made me look up 75 metres ahead where I was gobsmacked to see the resulting 15cm high wave peel across the surface!  

The last boof happened two hours later, and by then I was pretty tired and thought the sound was a car door shutting back at the launch spot, or a car crash way over the hill.  

It was a deep low distant sounding thud, and it didn’t even register as a cod boof, until several seconds later when a huge upwelling erupted in front of my kayak.  

A shivering instinct told me this was definitely another massive fish.

I used loud rattling hard-body and spinner bait lures all that night, and on several other occasions, and I have no question these giant cod knew my lure was there, but not one of them touched my offering.  

Several evenings later, my line went slack and I was amazed to see one big mumma push the lure back to me on its head, seemingly glance at me, and then swim off!

Back at the drawing board I down-sized to prototype Fishing Australia tournament series spin stick, part of a new range which has just been released into tackle stores for Christmas.

I went down to 20-pound braid and 25-pound leader, and tied on the best redfin imitating lure I know of – Storm Naturistic Wildeye Perch. 

Most importantly, on the next calm night I pedaled ever so quietly into position 50 metres from the prime lairs and cast these very quiet and subtle but realistic looking lures at the prime lies.  

I used every ounce of skill I had and caught three extra-large cod in three trips (the largest one is pictured).

All were memorable, but the biggest one in particular was an epic battle, and I had to continually crank the hobie over at speed to get between the fish and snags to shepherd her away from busting me off.

The adrenaline flows just recounting the fight, and of course she was released, wiser for the experience.  I also removed a number of illegal set lines from the area that someone shamelessly put there to kill and keep big cod.

There is giant cod in them there hills, if you get one you will both learn from the experience and don’t keep one for Christmas, as a golden perch, trout or redfin is an easier, tastier, and much more sustainable catch.

See you on the water, Rob Paxevanos

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