How to catch Murray cod

The Burnanga Trail offers some of the best Murray cod fishing in Australia and the opportunity to reel in that catch of a lifetime. Fishing for cod demands persistence regardless of whether you are tempting them with lures, bait or even flyfishing. Plus there’s always the chance of tripping up a golden perch when using smaller offerings, which keeps you on the water and fishing for a ‘metery’ cod.


Trolling is a reliable way of encountering big cod, especially in the Murray River and the deeper areas of the lower Ovens and Goulburn. Pull along one or two large deep diving lures behind your boat, navigating the shoreline to stay in the strike zone a metre or two from the bottom. Although a fantastic way to find hungry cod, be prepared to unsnag lures throughout the day. It’s just part of the exercise, though made easier if fishing with a friend who can help position the boat and assist with lure retrieval from the depths.

Rubbing through standing trees, and over submerged ones, trollers are best served with heavy baitcaster or spin outfits of around 6 feet in length, with 50-pound braid and a 60lb leader of about 5ft. Although it can be a long time between bites, trollers often boast the biggest catches, so determination and patience is key!

Lure casters

Boat-based lure casters put in significant hours and hundreds of casts at all sorts of structure with the hope of intersecting a Murray cod. Often, their efforts are concentrated on standing and fallen timber, weed edges, and rocky banks, focusing on water less than six metres deep. Large spinnerbaits, bibbed lures, swimbaits and surface lures are all effective, although its best to vary your setup depending on time of day and what the cod are feeding on. Water clarity should also be considered, with more realistic fish-like lures best for clearer water. Consider a longer rod of 7 to 8ft to allow for bigger casts, matched to a baitcaster reel spooled with 50lb braided line, and 5ft of 40 to 60lb leader.


Bait fishers usually tie up to a snag or standing timber, lower baits to the bottom and play the waiting game. Popular baits include bardi grubs, yabbies, shrimp, or scrub worm, although non-natural baits like raw chicken pieces and cheese also yield great results! Using a circle hook is best practice as it prevents gut hooking and ensures any released cod are in good health. Pair a running sinker rig with the same gear advised for trolling, moving every hour or so to fish new sections of water. This will provide the best chance of intersecting active fish and persuading them to bite.

Shore-based fishers

Shore-based lure casters should target visible structure, slowly retrieving the lure and hoping a cod will strike in the 2nd part of the retrieve, away from the snags. Use the same lures as boat-based fishers, although spinnerbaits that can be bounced over structure, or bibbed diving lures that float over snags will reduce your gear losses. Surface lures are another way to go, avoiding snags as they float and tumble over the top of anything near the surface.

Shore-based anglers can also target Murray cod with bardi grubs, yabbies, shrimp, chicken or cheese, setting up adjacent to snags and casting out into a few metres of water. Cod regularly patrol water edges when active, particularly at night when they feel more comfortable leaving their lairs to hunt and feed. Go for a 7ft medium heavy spin rod with 50lb braid, 5ft of 60lb leader, and circle hooks to match the size of the bait. Importantly, anchor your rod to avoid watching it skip down the river when your bait is taken by any decent fish. Small metal bells attached near the rod tip are a great addition to alert you to a bite, particularly in low light. Lights sticks are also handy when clipped to rod tips, again for visual clues to some interest from a cod.

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