How to catch Murray cod

Murray cod are a magnificent species, their unique colours and striking dark patterns are truly a sight to behold, especially in clear water. However, in turbid water, they tend to display more pale patterns. Along the Burnanga Trail, you'll see a range of these colours based on water clarity. Whether you're a lure or bait fisher, there are plenty of opportunities to catch these elusive fish.

When it comes to lure fishing, trolling or casting is the preferred method, while bait fishers tend to stick around spot for an hour or two to soak their bait before moving on to another location. Don't underestimate the effectiveness of shoreline fishing, as cod often move to shallow areas to hunt, especially during low light conditions. With persistence, you always stand a chance of landing a Murray cod, but it's important to remember that they can be moody and refuse to bite for hours or even days before suddenly turning on.

It's worth noting that the tackle recommendations on this page are geared towards catching mature cod. While downsizing gear is an option, it's always best to be prepared in case a big cod decides to take the bait, which could make short work of lighter tackle.


Trolling is considered one of the most reliable ways to catch big cod, especially in the Murray River. However, this technique can also be applied to the lower Ovens or Goulburn in wider and deeper areas, especially on bends. Using large deep diving lures, spinnerbaits, and even surface lures, trollers typically trail one or two lures out behind their boat, often in waters between four to eight meters deep. The deep diving lures will vibrate and clunk into the bottom and across submerged timber. This method of fishing is highly effective in finding a hungry cod. However, trollers must be prepared to retrieve lures when snagged, and may lose a few over the course of a day.

It takes skill to navigate the shoreline to stay in the strike zone while avoiding constant snags. Therefore, this fishing method works best as a two-person operation. Trollers are best served with heavy baitcaster or spin outfits, around six feet in length with 50lb braid and a 60lb monofilament or fluorocarbon leader of about five feet. It can be a long time between bites, but trollers often encounter some of the biggest fish.

The Burnanga Trail is also a great place to try your hand at shoreline fishing. Cod will often move to shallow areas to hunt, especially in low light. This deceptively effective technique can be done using a variety of lures, such as deep diving lures, spinnerbaits, and surface lures. Alternatively, bait fishers tend to try a spot for an hour or two to soak a bait before moving to another.

Clean water brings out the best colours and striking dark patterns in Murray cod, while fish in turbid water will have significantly paler patterns. Throughout the Burnanga Trail, you will see variances of these colors based on water clarity. Regardless of where you find them, Murray cod are beautiful fish, and persistence is key to catching them as they can be moody and refuse anything for hours or days, then suddenly switch on. The tackle recommendations on this page are aimed more at mature cod, but you never know when a big cod will turn up, which can make short work of lighter tackle.

Lure Casters

Boat-based lure casters are often considered the most devoted and ardent Murray cod fishers. They spend extensive hours, casting hundreds of times at potential hotspots, including standing and fallen timber, weed edges, and banks, with the hope of catching a cod. Generally, they concentrate their efforts in waters less than six meters deep, focusing on the area between that depth and the bank edge. The choice of lure depends on the time of day, and water clarity can also be a significant factor. Large spinnerbaits, bibbed lures, swimbaits, and surface lures are all effective, depending on the conditions.

Lure casters usually employ longer rods, with 7- to 8-foot-long models being ideal for achieving greater casting distance. To match this, they use a baitcaster reel, 50lb braided line, and a 5-foot leader made from 40 to 60lb line. With their sophisticated gear and dedication, lure casters are often rewarded with the ultimate prize, catching a big Murray cod.


Boat fishing for Murray cod typically involves tying up to a snag or standing timber and playing the waiting game. Anglers will lower bait, such as bardi grubs, yabbies, shrimp, or scrub worm, into the water and patiently wait for a bite. However, more unconventional baits such as raw chicken pieces and cheese have also been known to work effectively. The running sinker rig is a popular choice among bait fishers, and a circle hook is recommended to prevent gut hooking, allowing for the safe release of any caught fish. The same gear used for trolling can also be utilized by bait fishers. It's recommended to move to a new spot every hour or so in order to increase the chances of encountering active fish.

Shore-based fishers

For those who prefer to fish from the shore, there are some excellent opportunities to catch Murray cod using both lure and bait fishing techniques. When casting lures from the shore, it's essential to target structure that is visible from the bank and work the lure back slowly to your feet. The thrill of waiting for that next cast to be the one that gets the heart racing is unmatched. The same lure types used by boat fishers can be used, but there is always the risk of losing lures due to snagging. To minimize losses, consider using spinnerbaits that can be bounced over structure or bibbed diving lures that float up and over snags when paused. Surface lures are another option to try, as they can be floated over anything submerged.

When targeting cod from the bank with bait, it is important to use the same bait types that are successful for boat fishers. Bardi grubs, yabbies, shrimp, chicken, and even cheese have proven to be effective. Set up your gear next to snags and cast out into a few metres of water, as cod regularly patrol the edges when they are active. It is crucial to anchor any rod as a decent cod can quickly rip it into the water. For this type of fishing, a 7-foot medium-heavy spin rod with 50lb braid, 5 feet of 60lb leader, and circle hooks that match the size of the bait are ideal.

Whether you're fishing from a boat or the bank, Murray cod is a challenging and rewarding fish to catch. Regardless of your preferred method, there are plenty of opportunities to experience the thrill of catching one of these magnificent fish. So, grab your gear and hit the water to enjoy the excitement and beauty of Murray cod fishing.

Click here for bag limits on Murray cod.