Consultation begins on new year-round cod fisheries

02 April 2024

A trio of central Victorian waters would be opened to Murray cod fishing all year-round under a proposal to be shaped by recreational fishers through public consultation.

Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) Chief Executive Officer Travis Dowling said fishers can have their say on a proposal to remove the three-month closed season for Murray cod at lakes Nillahcootie and Eppalock as well as Cairn Curran Reservoir.

“These three lakes share in hundreds of thousands of cod annually by the VFA and research has shown breeding among stocked populations in waters like this is low, so a closed season is of little benefit,” Mr Dowling said.

“Removing the closed season in 2016 transformed Lake Eildon into a Murray cod mecca 12 months of the year. In 2021, a similar decision was supported for several western Victorian waters and we believe this would provide great fishing opportunities and a tourism boost in the heart of the state.

“Opening up year-round fishing could also take pressure off rivers like the Loddon, Campaspe and Broken to help support breeding populations.”

The closed season applies in the majority of rivers and lakes north of the Great Dividing Range between 1 September and 30 November, to give Murray cod a chance to breed in peace - but it does not apply in Lake Eildon or waters of the Wimmera and Millicent basins, including Rocklands Reservoir.

Lake Eppalock is located 30 minutes from the booming regional city of Bendigo, with a growing population of more than 120,000 people. The lake has been stocked with more than 2.59 million cod since 2010.

Cairn Curran Reservoir is located about 45 minutes south-west of Bendigo, near Newstead and the historic town of Maldon, and is well regarded for its springtime golden perch fishing. To boost Murray cod fishing it has scored 250,000 fingerlings this season, among close to a million over the past 20 years.

The picturesque Lake Nillahcootie, on the Broken River south of Benalla, has scored more than 400,000 cod since 2011 and will continue to be a productive mixed fishery.

Recreational fishing peak body VRFish has thrown its support behind the proposal and a recent survey of its members highlighted the three waters as suitable options for the removal of the closed season.

To have your say on the plans, visit or email your feedback to by 16 April 2024.