Few fish short of a cod fishery
  |  First Published: March 2017

We’re more than two months into the cod season and local captures along the Murray River can be counted on a single hand. Three small Murray cod have been caught so far and two of them were landed in the Wentworth Weir pool. I’m sure as the months roll on, other cod captures will come to light. Perhaps even a few big fish will show as they make their way back out of the lower Darling River and other pockets of water that have given sanctuary.

The smaller gilled species seemed to have survived in higher numbers with perch and carp a viable target on bait and lures. It’s great that some smaller cod survived the black water event. I can’t help but think on what has been lost. Imagine being a millionaire and having had your fortune taken away, only to find 50 cents and have others tell you how wonderful it is you still have something left. Those are hollow words and mere loose change when you consider the wealth of green fish stocks that overflowed the vaults 12 months ago.

Water clarity in the local Murray has been good and anglers are picking up a few decent perch in the pool water above Robinvale on lures. Bait is also producing a few perch, catfish and as many carp as can be pulled from the river. Yabbies are non-existent in the local Murray around Robinvale and have been absent from these waters like the crays after the 2010-11 black water event. Good numbers of yabbies have been running below Wentworth in the Murray River, if you’re chasing a feed.

Heaps of large carp are also being angled out of the Murray River on a variety of baits. While they may not be great on the table, they are fun on the line. I will stay on the carp for a moment and touch on one of my all-time pet hates of local fishing. Why is it anglers feel the need to leave piles of these dead fish at almost every popular location you visit on the river?

Be it a camping spot or boat ramp, the stench of decaying fish during the warmer months is nauseating to say the least. A few weeks back I dropped into the Swan Hill Riverside Park for a feed of fish and chips on the steps with my daughter only to be confronted by the same stench of dead fish I regularly see a little further out of town. Several large carp were drying in the sun alongside the steps with a hive of flies buzzing amidst the stink.

There is a simple answer to this problem. Under current NSW legislation, it is not illegal to return carp into the same waters they are caught from. I simply choose to liberate mine dead after they have been dispatched humanely. Victoria is different – while it is currently illegal to release live carp, they have no problem with carp being returned dead. In both cases, they provide a valuable food source for any number of animals from pelicans and whistling kites to shrimp, yabbies and even small fishes. It’s far better in the water than rotting on the banks at popular river locations.

The fishing around Swan Hill has been a little better with most anglers landing cod in the Murray River on bait and lures. Several cod to 90cm have been trolled on lures up towards the Pental Island area. Some good perch have also been landed at this location according to local tackle proprietor Jim Credlin.

The Kerang Lakes have fished well this past month with good numbers of golden perch and redfin falling to bait and lures. Lake Charm has been the pick for redfin catches with solid bags landed on blades and vibes. Shrimp and local white bait bobbed on the drift have also worked well.

All up, the best cod fishing in our areas has come from the Swan Hill region. Another month might tell a different story. Until then, we can only wait and hope and rebuild our greenfish fortune, one wonderful fish at a time.

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