Murray River

Where to fish - Murray River (Victorian side)

Originating on the slopes of Australia’s highest peak Mt Kosciusko and emptying into the ocean in South Australia, the Murray is indeed a mighty river system. Whilst it is considered to be New South Wales water along its border with Victoria (you need a NSW fishing licence to fish it) much of the fishing is conducted from the southern side. Despite its northern geography, the Murray is a very important waterway to native fish enthusiasts. Deep, wide and powerful, it holds a unique place in our history and is a significant asset for recreation and irrigation.

There has been a welcome and significant increase in the number of Murray cod in the Murray River and Murray Darling Basin in recent years. Anglers report excellent fishing with consistent catches. Fishing in the Murray is greatly influenced by flow and changes to its water level. Although bank fishing is quite possible and rewarding, especially in backwaters and near shoreline snags, the best fishing is from a boat, which provides access to midwater snags and the use of trolled lures. The best fishing in the Murray is during a period of stable flow when the water clears. The section of river from Yarrawonga to Echuca offers some of the best cod fishing anywhere and is home to countless big green fish, good golden perch and some redfin. The area also offers great river access and lots of camping on picturesque sites overlooking the water. Note the section of river from the Yarrawonga Weir to Tocumwal Road Bridge is closed to all forms of fishing from 1 September to 30 November.

Yarrawonga to Echuca

A stretch of river below Lake Mulwala is closed to fishing however beyond that and behind the caravan park is good fishing that continues all the way to Echuca except for a few stretches of unproductive shallow water. Depth from Yarrawonga to Echuca averages around 3 metres with deeper pools averaging 4 and some 6-8, especially on the outside of bends. The river width in places can be up to 100m. There are abundant snags in the river downstream of Yarrawonga with logs exposed along the edges at low flows. Extensive sandy beaches exist at most inside bends, some larger than others. The entire river course is lined with mature red gums and bank height varies from 3-5 metres with access to the water’s edge difficult in places.

The river will often run relatively clear and green in this section if the outflow from Mulwala hasn’t been too stirred up by rainfall. The river is lined with large fallen timber and more than 300 pieces of large instream habitat has been added by between Yarrawonga and Barmah, which is a haven for big cod. Between Burramine and Cobram the river has extensive old snags that are very productive especially for topwater fishing methods.

Downstream of Tocumwal the Ulupna Island area has a big reputation and is very popular with locals. The Narrows towards Barmah is fast flowing and not as deep as beyond Echuca where it tends to get much deeper and slower. This section is still productive, however methods to embrace the faster flow are required to be successful, one of which is topwater casting.

Good fishing bites usually occur in periods of stable lower flow or as the river rises. It’s not so good when the river is running high and fast or when it is dropping. Flows of less than 10,000 megalitres are considered best. Beyond this is quite difficult and less productive. This can occur anytime but is less likely during the irrigation season when water demands are highest. Bait fishing is effective around snags and deeper bends however lure fishing is probably more productive in the cleaner and faster water. Spinnerbaits and diving crankbaits work well as do large surface lures. Best results for lure casters will be achieved by casting across and downstream in any faster flowing sections. It also aids in avoiding heavy lure losses on snags. Trolling with deep divers is popular and accounts for plenty of good fish.

Redfin are less common in the Murray than years ago and golden perch appear amongst the catches of bait fishers and lure caster from time to time. There is no doubt though that the cod dominate the river and the hit-list for anglers. Some of the better golden perch areas are around the junctions of the Campaspe and Goulburn rivers, the ‘black hole’ downstream of Yarrawonga, the anabranch water between Paddy Beach and Zinettis Beach as well as in the Barmah Lakes. This seems to be true for redfin too.

Yarrawonga, Cobram and Echuca are hospitable tourism focussed towns and have everything a visiting fisher could hope for. Informal boat ramps can be located in lots of places through the bush, however click here for more information on Murray River Boat Ramps.