How to catch Murray cod
Regardless of where you find them, Murray cod are beautiful fish. Clean water brings out their colourful and striking dark patterns, while turbid water highlights pale patterns. This is typical of the Sunset Country fish. Lure fishers troll or cast lures, while bait fishers tend to try a spot for an hour or two, soaking a bait before moving along. Shoreline fishing can be deceptively effective, as cod commonly move to shallow areas to hunt, especially in low light. You’re always in with a chance with a line in the water. Infamously unpredictable in what/when they’ll take, persistence is the key to all cod fishing. Note that the tackle recommendations on this page are aimed at mature cod, however you can easily downsize gear to suit your desired catch. Be warned though, you never know when a big cod will turn up and make short work of lighter tackle.
Trolling is a reliable method to catch big Murray cod, especially in the Murray River. By using large deep diving lures, spinnerbaits, and even surface lures, trollers pull one or two lures behind their boat, typically in water depths of four to ten metres. The deep diving lures will vibrate and clunk into the bottom and across submerged timber, making it a great way to find a hungry cod. However, be prepared to lose a few lures through the course of a day. Trolling requires skill to navigate the shoreline, stay in the strike zone, and avoid getting snagged up. Fishing this way works best as a two-person operation. Heavy baitcaster or spin outfits around six feet in length with 50lb braid and a 60lb monofilament or fluorocarbon leader of about five feet are ideal. Although it can take a while in between bites, trollers often encounter some of the biggest fish.
Boat-based lure casters are perhaps the most serious cod fishers. They put in significant hours and hundreds of casts at likely structures such as standing and fallen timber, weed edges, and banks, hoping to intersect with a Murray cod. Generally, lure casters concentrate in waters less than six metres and focus between that depth and the bank edge. Large spinnerbaits, bibbed lures, swimbaits, and surface lures are effective depending on the time of day. Longer rods of 7-8 feet in length are used to get bigger casts, with baitcaster reels and 50lb braided line with five feet of 40-60lb leader.
Boat fishers usually tie up to a snag or standing timber, lower baits, and then play a sit-and-wait game. Traditional baits such as bardi grubs, yabbies, shrimp, or scrub worms are being challenged by non-natural baits like raw chicken pieces and cheese. It may sound odd, but they work! The running sinker rig is ever popular, and a circle hook will prevent gut hooking, enabling any fish to be released in good health. The same gear used for trolling is great for bait fishers. Move every hour or so to try and intersect with active fish.
Shore-based lure casters target structures visible from the shore and work lures back slowly to their feet. What you never know is when the next cast is the one. When lures are worked back to the bank, a cod strike can happen in the last few metres, which sure gets the heart racing! Lure types are the same as boat fishers, but the nature of cod fishing around structure will see some losses. This can be minimized by using spinnerbaits that can be bounced over structure or bibbed diving lures that float up and over snags when paused. Surface lures are another way to go as they'll go over the top of anything subsurface. A big cod caught from the shore on a lure is a significant trophy!
Bank fishing with bait is a relaxing way to target cod in lakes or rivers. Use the same baits of bardi grub, yabbies, shrimp, chicken, or cheese. Set up adjacent to snags and cast out into a few metres of water. Cod regularly patrol the edges when active, and you stand an excellent chance. Make sure you anchor any rod as a decent cod will quickly rip it into the water. Go for a 7-foot medium heavy spin rod with 50lb braid, 5 foot of 60lb leader, and circle hooks to match the size of the bait.