As the winter chill begins to set in, I reflect on what a tough fishing season we’ve experienced so far. Many waterways were gripped with terminally low water levels. I can only imagine how many of our precious Murray Cod perished through the harsh ordeal.
While not all doom and gloom, we still managed to enjoy some success in ‘Cods country’.
There’s still a lot of water to explore and gear to be trialled, hopefully we can share some of our photos and videos with you.
I’ve put together a mash of pictures from several past trips.
It’s not very often I head far from home to find water, but I’ve been always keen to fish the lower Macintyre river system. John Everett was also interested in venturing to the rich broad acre cotton farming region and hopefully find a few fish.
5am road trips and country roads can sometimes involve white knuckle driving, dodging crazy kangaroos that seemed determined to inflict damage on my Toyota.
Calling into the first property, we were rewarded with a yarn and also fishing access, oh and the obligatory mud map that farmers always tend to favour.
Spotting the river gums we knew that the water wasn’t too far away, but it wasn’t going to be easy as we weaved our way through the thick mimosa bush that choked the prime grazing land.
A little unsettling was the number of black snakes sunning themselves in the morning sun. We knew we’d better keep our wits about us on this trip.
The river twisted and turned down through heavily silted sand banks. Little cod eagerly darted out from thigh deep water, pinning them with our flies wasn’t easy.
Finally we floated to a descent hole, but still the fish persisted with playing hard to get.
A black rattling clouser raised interest with not many takers. It was very frustrating when a big cod had three goes at the fly, but no hook up.
As the sun settled, we watched several feral pigs slipping down for their daily drink.
We decided to walk back upstream, to find and collect the ute. Our plan was to figure how to reach the large pool by vehicle. Somehow we worked our way through the maze of gates and Mimosa bush, back to our chosen campsite. The decision was to fish the rest of the large hole at first light.
While darkness fell, pigs grazed on previously ploughed paddocks not far from the campsite. Next morning while having breakfast we watched as a steady flow of pigs travelled from a distant cultivation, leading them right past our campsite.
Even though we worked some really prominent snag structures, the morning session remained very quiet. We decided it was time to pack the Hilux, head down the road and find the next property.
At the next farm they gave us the rock star treatment, happily showing us around and pointing out the better water. Even though the water was quite shallow, the hole looked similar to the New England water we fish regularly. Bottle brush and overhanging trees formed structures for Murray cod, which is the water we like to fish.
The cod seemed a lot more willing to strike on rattling flies. Pigs and snakes were ever present as we finned quietly upstream using our Floatboats, but we were here to fish, not hunt!
Although we struggled to encourage the bigger fish on our trip, I was assured the water held good quality fish. When the colder months arrive, I think I’ll return to the warmer Goondiwindi water with both flyrod and rifle. Nick
How can you improve on an awesome late evening fishing session? A day when the fish really fired up and a stack of cod where landed on the fly.
Storm clouds rolled in and rain could spell disaster for the remaining few hours.
Clipping off the black fatboy fly it was time for floating flylines and topwater bugs.
To see some of the surface highlights check out the latest head cam clip, featuring an 86cm beast. According to the Fisheries handbook it would have weighed in at 13.5kgs. Nick
There’s no bigger rush than pursuing Murray Cod on a surface fly. The anticipation and knowing, that any second, your top water bug could be detonated upon. It’s a sound that travels far across the water, instantly your mates know you’ve been ambushed.
Unfortunately a week can bring so many variables to our sensitive Murray Cod. Just last week, it was a case of having to fish the top layer or miss out on the action.
Today I found out that our native fish can quickly bring you back down to reality. Valuable light quickly faded as I struggled to raise any interest on my usually successful poppers.
The “Light Horseman Fly” (a tribute to the heroic Aussie Soldiers and the Emu feathers that adorned their Slouch Hats), it is a fly we fish with confidence, when using Intermediate sink tip fly lines. It has several features that could also serve duty as a dual purpose fly.
- Flymen Fish Masks provide a very slow sink rate.
- Big Game Articulation shanks, movement and positive hook set on a static fly.
- Reverse tied Buck tail and natural Emu feathers giving the illusion of life.
- Front loop weed guard, we’ve popularised and perfected this awesome snag reducer.
Switching to a floating flyline I began to cover the same snag systems with Light Horseman, areas I usually reserve for a surface bug.
Most times I’d let the fly bulge the surface and sink to a maximum of around 40cm in depth.
It was nearly as much fun as surface fishing, watching fish rush up through the submerged limbs and climbing all over the snaking fly. It always pays to try new tactics and ideas when the usual techniques fail. Nick
Peering through the bottlebrush we could see a promising sight, the combination of fading light and snag lined pocket water. As an experiment we chose to fish different techniques. Jason stuck with the traditional and boring sub surface flies, while I worked the surface.
I could see Jason struggling to raise interest and having no luck with the use of sub surface flies on his side of the riverbank. In total contrast I was raising a heap of fish amongst the shaded structure.
A 5/0 cod charmer was just the ticket for these little cod! A reasonably small fly, but can be fished subtly or worked hard depending on what the fish want on the day.
The hook up rate was pretty low on the day, but since they were mostly small fish it was all about the blow up.
Fishing top water is a great search tool; a lot of water can be covered in minimal time and fished ultra effectively. Nick
I’m still laughing as I reflect on last weekends trip. Finally we put together a day trip without having to sweat it out or lug a ton of gear over stupid distances. Being able to park the vehicle at the riverbank doesn’t happen often, so we really made the most of it.
I had a hunch that the minimal flow from Pindari Dam would pay dividends on a river that had been blown out, for so many months.
Our casting mojo’s had been set on “awesome”, no structure was safe from our invading flies.
We have often found that sometimes a simple temperature change can trigger a memorable bite session; this was one of those days.
This particular trip started slowly and fished without reward, by late evening we started smashing them! I don’t know what got us more excited, a 70cm cod or the pair of venomous snakes swimming through our hot zone.
Slipping into the next pool, we could see the heavily snagged pocket water that begged for top water tactics. Stay tuned for the next post and headcam clip, you’ll see why Murray Cod and surface flies are the ultimate combination. Nick
Talk about a tough cod season! We have really put in some big days on the water looking for willing fish. Most times it’s been a battle to find just a handful. I guess that’s why there are so few people committed to targeting Murray Cod on fly.
Every one of our trips involves heavy packs, overgrown rivers, spills, hot temps and a whole lot of sledging. Keeping the confidence up and constantly casting tight into structure all day is tough, but with a few laughs we’re always up for the challenge.
Lately we have been taking notice of what overseas Musky fly fishermen have been getting up to. Both species of fish are very similar, lots of casts, big flies and heavy gear. The flies they use are a work of art, we’re talking articulation, thanks to the use of Big Game Articulation Shanks. Check out this clip and you’ll appreciate the similarities and dedication involved. https://vimeo.com/83142246
Being a bit of a gear nut, I threw down $250 for a Ross 10wt 7’11” Flystik. At less than half the price of Sage’s Bass version, I never expected much for such a minimal outlay but damn I was wrong.
Both Jason and I worked the rod over after loading it up with Rio’s 10wt Outbound Short Flyline. At the end of the day, we agreed the very progressive action made difficult casts a breeze, bloody accurate too.
Exploring river systems during drought conditions is never a good idea. On my latest trip, many hours were wasted in the attempt to find enough water to hold fish. Most of the bigger pools had turned a nasty green colour and the idea of inflating the float boat to enter the slime seemed crazy.
Hot, oxygen deficient water usually means tough fishing, as a rule the morning session usually provides the better results with such unforgiving conditions.
Strangely the small pools looked a little healthier and a lot less affected by the dry conditions; my main goal was to explore the river and find what fish the river held, while knowing there was so much stacked up against this particular trip.
Travelling anglers heading to the New England region will be a little disappointed with the state of some of our waterways, due to the lack of descent rainfall, our rivers are loaded full of weed. Pindari Dam has once again started to release thousands of mega litres per day of cold water, straight from the bottom of the dam. We all know what our native fish think of sudden cold water flushes!
Finding time to fish has been pretty tough at the moment, but as time permits there will be a steady stream of trip reports to keep everyone updated. Nick
I’ve compiled another short head cam clip from last Sunday’s flyfishing trip.
At first we found the resident Murray Cod on duty, particularly on the left hand side of the bank. I’m not sure if it was because of the increased water flow or just a comfortable temperature thing happening.
As the clouds and cool winds set in, the tally slowed to a trickle.
Again we found the Cod to be very cautious, timid and the bites very subtle. Slow and patiently we worked flies with long pauses, as this was the order for the day. Intermediate sink tip fly lines and lightly weighted flies made the task of dead drifting our flies easy.
By the day’s end we released around a dozen small Cod, by winter fishing standards this was pretty good.
P.S –leaking waders are not ideal when the water temps are hovering around 8 degrees, as they offer very little protection, if any. (Jason recommends Simms Waders because he thinks they make him look awesome) Nick
I was going through the motions at work, when I received a text from John Everett. It seems both of us were suffering from winter time blues. Months of no fishing had taken a toll on us, but it was about to be cured.
Using float boats during the cooler months relies on thermal clothing, waders and a little luck. Often prime bite times occur around midday, so there’s no need for extremely early starts.
Hitting the water around 8:30am we soon discovered that our casting required a little honing before our flies started to hit the mark.
In the weedy shallows several large orange carp nervously cruised about. A beat up 6/0 orange Fatboy fly would perfectly match the cod’s natural prey.
The first hole was a fizzer even though we were getting our casting together by now. Embarrassingly the first cod strike I somehow managed to blow completely, I blamed the cold water temps for dulling the senses.
Thrashing our way down through the overgrown shallows, we finally reached the following pool and immediately found a nice cod tucked away in the current. The take was very different than the usual cod strike, after several metres of following the fly, finally the fish responded to a static fly presentation. Encouraged we worked our way into some prime water, the warming rays of the sun really helped to build up our enthusiasm.
During the next hour we found many aggressive fish with our flies, but unfortunately pulled the hooks on every single one. It has been one of the problems associated with the Fatboy fly.
All the earlier morning woes were soon forgotten, when I managed to sight cast at a very healthy 80cm cod, which was hidden amongst the bottlebrushes. The bite slowly tapered off for some reason during the afternoon, even though the deeper water and its numerous snags looked impressive. John restored the faith with a 78cm cod, on one of Virty’s Kaos Cod Flys.
Landing eight Murray Cod on fly for the day made putting up with the cold and leaking waders all worthwhile.
Tackle used – Sage Largemouth Bass rod, RIO outbound short 375gr float/ inter sink tip flyline, Kaos 10wt fly reels. Nick
What a tough few weeks we’ve experienced in the New England. Many of our waterways are suffering from weedy, low and discoloured water. Adding plummeting air/ water temperatures into the above scenario has now resulted in lots of casting practise on the river.
Current low water levels have exposed thousands of yabby holes along the river banks; perhaps fish were now gorging themselves on these high protein crustaceans. For the most part, over the last few years, our Murray cod flies have started increasing in physical size. Knowing that kids love to constantly eat snacks and sneaky meals, well now we’ve prepared the cod snack.
A fly, that’s a tad under 11cms in length, but packs some serious street credit when dealing with those tough fishing times. Get the tie right and it provides plenty of movement thanks to the use of natural fibres, even though the main ingredient is Arctic fox tail and Senyo’s laser dub head, there’s lots of room to add your own variations.
We have two hook options, both Gamakatsu, either the B10s in 2/0 or a Saltwater SL12s in 4/0. To improve hook up rate we now tend to open up the hook bend slightly.
Tail: short pinch of Buck tail, to prevent tail wrap. Big fly fibre, Arctic fox tail, optional Ostrich feathers/ Peacock hurl/ Silicon skirts. A few strands of Crystal flash mixed in.
Body: Rabbit crosscut, Marabou, Schlappen feathers is another optional.
Lead wire:0.15 gauge
Senyo’s Laser Dub is used to form a simple sturdy head and trimmed into shape. For durability we use Clear Cure 3D Dumbbell eyes in 8mm, to avoid the lost eye syndrome.
Weed guard: 60lb looped mono weed guard. Nick
It’s funny how old favourite flies can fall to the way side, to a point that they’re now totally forgotten. Back in the early days if the river had the slightest hint of colour, it was all about the Rattling Clouser/ Rouser. In particular, rivers such as the Dumaresq river, located on the Qld/ NSW border, the combination of flash and audible rattle wreaked havoc on so many of the resident cod.
Over time we stepped away from the use of rock sensitive rattles, concentrating our time on designing a simple, functional weed guard, with the reliance of natural fibres to create highly effective flies.
Looking back through my old fly boxes, I was drawn to the assortment of 4/0 Rattling Clousers, a fly that had bought me so much success in the past.
Knowing that the fishing in our rivers has been pretty tough going lately, I had my suspicion that this could be the fly to unlock these shut down Murray Cod. And indeed it did. So don’t be afraid to get reacquainted with your old favourite flies because chances are you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Nick
Easter is fast approaching and travelling anglers will find the next few months pretty tough going in the New England. Willow and Honey Locust Trees are beginning to shed their leaves at this time of year, indicating that the nights are starting to cool down and murray cod will become less active.
In order to succeed during these colder months, just remember to slow your fly presentation down and always fish with confidence. On our recent fly fishing trip we gathered enough footage to put together a short clip. Nick
As the sun dips below the river gums, Galahs and Cockatoos take the opportunity to have the last sip of water, many have already settled down for the night in the tree tops.
It’s the time when Murray Cod feel comfortable leaving their snaggy lairs and go on the attack, seeking food from above and below the water line.
The pinnacle of Cod fishing for me is that last magical hour of light, with floating fly lines and large surface flies at the ready. Unfortunately over the years I’ve also been on the receiving end of some monumental wipe outs from big fish during these times. Perhaps the biggest heartache when fishing surface flies has been the amount of hook set failures encountered, particularly when using large foam patterns.
Many of my recent evening sessions, I’ve been trialling new fly/hook concepts in the hope of improving hook up rates.
Articulated flies are nothing new overseas; in fact many steelhead, salmon, pike and trophy brown trout fisherman have been twisting them up for years. Except for pelagic fishing, their use has been nearly none existent here in Australia. Some of the benefits of using tandem flies are:
1) Extra swinging hook for increased hook up rate
2) The ability to create larger profile flies
3) Weighted subsurface flies have increased undulation motion
4) Surface flies inherit a snake like swimming motion
The Big Poppa fly created by James Nicholson in Victoria, is one of my favourite top water flies for Murray Cod. It generates the most seductive sound and it has a real knack of taking fish under many varied conditions.
The Bendy Roller Popper and the Big Poppa both share a similar problem, a dismal hook up rate! Jason pleaded for a total fly reform, starting with a treatment of articulation. So far the mods have exceeded expectations and produced a deadly top water fly for Cod. Mono loop weed guards fitted on both hooks help maintain its snag resistance, which is an invaluable feature for the rivers fished around the New England.
The Big Poppa
Hook – Gamakatsu B10s 1/0 rear, Owner 5/0 spinnerbait front
35lb plastic coated wire trace, 2 plastic beads, thread wrapped and glued
Body – Large Krystal Hackle rear hook, rabbit zonker front
2mm sheet foam – 15mm width rear, 20mm width front
Tail – arctic fox tail
Flash – blended Sparkleflash
Weed guard – 60lb Rio heavy mono shock tippet rear, 80lb front.
3D eyes – apply clear cure goo, then coated with head cement
With a wet and boring Australia Day long weekend, I thought I’d put together a short headcam clip from one of our earlier trips.
Filmed during late December last year, the object of the day was to find deep pockets of hidden water along the river. It’s in these pools you’ll find the resident Murray Cod very willing to take a well presented fly.
Upon reaching the river, we split up and scurried off on our separate ways. Weaving and dodging under the bottlebrush choked river bank at a frantic pace, trying to find any windows in the undergrowth. The object was to look for any potential water that we could explore with the aid of our float boats.
Meeting back at the Ute sometime later, we set about a game plan that would involve having to deflate the boats several times throughout the day. With no other way, but to portage past the shallow, fish devoid sections.
Our expectations were high as we worked the first run with enthusiasm, an overgrown area that I’m sure no fisherman could ever fish successfully from the bank. Even though the water looked to have potential, Jason could only manage one cod that was hiding deep under an overhanging limb. Somewhat disappointed, we both headed downstream to the next pool. One that we both knew would hold a good population of fish. But beyond our expectations, the next thirty metres of river was an absolute mine field of hungry cod and every few metres of river was action packed. It was one of those spots were every few casts something exciting was happening. At one stage Jason found himself connected to a big cod, one that he had no control over, but once again had a thirty pound tippet fail under the pressure from these strong native fish. Slowly the bite tapered off as the river started to become shallow and weedy.
Reaching the end of the hole, the river started to become just a series of large granite rock pools. The cod in these sections were incredibly hungry and it wasn’t uncommon to have several little cod fighting to eat our flies
When you can land three cod in four casts, proves we had found a mother load of silly fish. As the sun dipped low we started to find better quality fish hiding amongst the babies.
Unfortunately we failed to capture a lot of good footage using the head cam, due to card failures. But as the rain continues to fall over the long weekend, I know these areas will fish even better next time. Nick
It’s great to watch your kids grow up, developing their own interests and hobbies. My youngest daughter Leah has a real passion for photography and fly tying, she now has the wackiest collection of fly’s out there, bold, bright colours with pink featured in most of her favoured ones.
On my latest voyage, Leah tagged along to see what all the fuss was about. Surprisingly the river was still affected by weed, even though we had received good rain last month.
With slightly turbid water, I fished the reliable pink/black mega Dobson knowing it would work. Tied on a 3/0 Gamakatsu Siwash, I reduced the usual eye weight from 3/16 real eyes, opting instead for large bead chain eyes. Hoping the combination of an intermediate sink tip flyline and slow sink fly would do the trick.
Watching the footage, you’ll notice that most of the time fish preferred the fly if it was dead drifted under the structure. At times Murray Cod can be quite finicky on fly/lure presentation, so it pays to be adaptable.
We both shared a great day on the water, landing 11 Murray Cod on fly and dropping several others. Leah was disappointed at losing her first Cod, but I suspect she won’t have to wait long for the next opportunity. Nick
I always get nervous when people join me for a fishing session, knowing that unstable weather can wreak havoc on our native fish. John Everett would be arriving today just as the condition where forecasted to turn ugly, afternoon storms could make this trip difficult.
With very little flat camping ground on offer, we selected an area that would be easier for us to drive out of if it decided to rain.
Inflating our water striders we ventured upstream into the “Bronx” area, so overgrown with bottlebrush its bloody dangerous for rod tips and a real nightmare for casting. Usually it’s a productive area, except for one cod that smashed a bendy roller popper, it was extremely quiet. I had my suspicions the low river levels may contributed to our steady progress. Working back downstream, we searched for deeper water with hopefully a little less weed to contend with.
When John opted for a modified Dobson fly, things started to happen for him. The fish where beautifully conditioned and very fit, problem was they were never really ‘on the bite’ it was a case of being patient and keep casts in the zone.
There were a lot of slow patches during the day, for an hour or so things would go quiet. Concentrating through these patches was tough, often our casting mojo would be lost and end up firing casts into overhanging foliage.
By 4:30pm clouds started to roll in, signalling things could get rough very soon. The faint sound of thunder confirmed what was about to head our way, what happened during the next hour was crazy fishing. All of a sudden we were both busy into fish. When John found himself connected to an absolute animal, I finned over and watched the battle unfold. The fish forced the Largemouth Bass rod into ridiculous bends with every powerful surge. Netting the fish wasn’t easy considering its bulk at 87cms it was totally out of proportion to its length, unfortunately for John It regurgitated most of its stomach and bowel contents over his new boat, what a horrendous smell. I quickly snapped some photos and left John with it.
Flashes of lightening indicated this incredible late session may come to an abrupt end, simply for life preservation. Out of curiosity we changed to floating fly lines and surface poppers.
John could do no wrong and next cast he witnesses the most aggressive surface strike imaginable. The big cods head breached clear out of the water, even from the other side of the river the strike sounded impressive. The fight was a letdown, but who’s complaining when an 85cm cod takes a surface fly like that. Unfortunately Johns luck ran out minutes later when a cod decided to steal his only articulated popper. The bad run continued when the storm finally caught up with us, producing a very sudden downpour. Forced back to camp, we prepared for the barrage of storms that was heading our way. The sudden temperature drop indicated that hail wasn’t too far away.
In the morning the cooler water temps really put a dampener on things. John worked his surface fly incredibly slow and managed to find an aggressive cod on duty. I found a cod hiding deep in the undergrowth, which abruptly stole my popper. By lunch things warmed up and we continued to add to the tally of the fish. John lucky streak continued when I found his missing popper, floating amongst a cluster of floating weed.
Arriving at a very reliable snag, I encouraged John to put a fly deep into the centre of the mallee. As if on cue the snag produced a fish, unfortunately it quickly managed to stitch him up within seconds, very funny stuff.
Once again, cloud and strong wind rolled in early, this time it looked we were about to receive some really bad news. The decision was made to head home early.
John really honed his skills over the weekend and between us we landed 16 Murray cod on fly, in pretty ordinary conditions. Nick
I often forget how effective surface fishing for Murray Cod can be, our rivers in the New England has some of the most consistent top water fishing available. When conditions turned cloudy on one of our latest trips, I took the gamble and chose to fish the surface. (Check out some of the highlights from the day’s effort we captured using a Vio headcam). Jason typically played it safe and stuck with his lovingly constructed sub surface patterns, which contained very minimal flash material. Fishing together, our game plan involved peppering casts under blossoming callistemon trees. This would give the fish the option of taking either of our flies, but I prefer to view the strike from a Cod. During the day many of the surface strikes failed to connect, on many occasions they’d managed to somehow to doge that ultra sharp hook point. By around midday the sun broke through the clouds and revealed the true clarity of the river. From this point on things quietened down, we had to rely on throwing subsurface flies in order to get the bite. Jason was tallying up a steady number of fish on a 6/0 olive emu huntsman fly, while I flavoured a lightly weighted rust brown/black coloured Mega Dobson. We discovered many of the Cod were laid up under the midstream boulders/rock bars, due to the super clear water the best option was to nymph fish our flies along the most promising areas. Most times they’d attack the helpless dead drifted fly; otherwise it was a case of imparting a few small twitches to encourage a strike. It was truly remarkable day with an estimated 20-25 cod on fly.
Jason flavoured a Scott s4s 8ft 10wt fly rod, while I used a Hard Core Elements 10wt, 8ft custom native specs flyrod. Both rods were kitted out with RIO Outbound Short floating/inter sink tip flylines. Nick
Don’t let anyone tell you cod fishing is glamorous, it’s far from it! Usually it involves a lot of sweat, fatigue and plain hard work. Our latest overnight trip was one of the most gruelling adventures we’ve experienced.
Typically, trekkers plan their trips down to every intricate detail; I’m not one of them. If Jason only knew that I was still deciding which direction we’d be heading to in the morning, he’d probably take over as trip co-ordinator.
Next morning we reached the river, instantly we were blown away by the rugged, brutal landscape and water clarity. Spotting cruising cod was kind of fun, but boy they were spooky! We had to have a total rethink of tactics to fish this water; it was a case of dredging fly’s in the deep gorge channels.
By three o’clock we reached the end of the longest pool, deep water was replaced with more familiar banks. Callistemon trees and snags lined the water’s edge, cicadas droned noisily from the overhanging she oaks. Better still the sun was setting behind the hills and it was getting quite dark. This was the time to see if they’d respond to a surface fly. Respond they did! The 50 metre tail section of the pool, was a surface smashing arena. I landed 7 cod and had so many failed hook ups I stopped counting. Meanwhile Jason had worked his way downstream, into classic nursery water, baby cod smashed his 4/0 big poppa well into the darkness. With the aid of headlamps we made it back to our Hilton Hotel bush accommodation.
Camping and sleeping don’t really mix to well for me; I suspect I might have some sort of sleeping disorder and at 3am the sounds of cod smashing surface, lured me back onto the water. Surface fishing at night is something I haven’t trialled many times in the past. Having a ¾ moon overhead, visibility was okay and most casts somehow landed on the water. From now on, that’s all going to change after that mad surface bite. The cod ranged from small to very small, but what a session!
Packing the Floatboats we progressed through a heavily timbered and beautiful deep gorge, fishing was a patience game using slow inter sink tip flylines. Possibly express sink flylines may have helped the situation, we’ll find out next time! Jason opted for smaller subtle flys. This seemed to be the key for these timid granite gorge cod.
With time getting away, the river dropped abruptly into a steep rock lined gorge, we parked the boats and climbed high up on the rocks to get a better view of the surroundings. Things turned hectic when we spotted a 1mtr+ cod cruising the water’s edge, we could see multiple cod in this pool as well as numerous catfish guarding their nests. Jason slid frantically down the rocky bank with flyrod in hand, while I called the shots from high above. Unfortunately our mythical big cod disappeared into the depths, undeterred we spent several hours sight casting and catching these cruising cod. Leaving this special place was very difficult; managing this while hauling heavy backpacks up so many steep hills was a chore. Doing it during the blazing midday heat was painful. It doesn’t matter how much hardship we endure on these trips, we’ll always go back! Nick
With Murray Cod season opening still another 4 weeks away, I predict things may get tough this summer. Once again Mother Nature refuses to deliver rain; if things don’t improve we may be facing lower than acceptable water levels. When the natural river flow ceases, we can be assured the dreaded weed will return. Without flow the river will become ultra clear, causing the fish to become very cautious and timid. Sunrise and sunset will always be considered peak times to fish, avoiding the bright day light hours as much as possible. “Work” and “Time Constraints” are two words that often leaves us fishing the midday runs.
The first obvious signs to look for are 1) fish following, and then turning away 2) fish, flash/ rolling 3) fish, tail nipping flys.
Let’s look at several tactics and equipment that increases the chance of success.
· For starters always use quality polarising sunglasses in conjunction with a wide brim hat. These two items will help identify fish holding structure, such as boulder/ rock bars and submerged logs.
· Switch to an intermediate sink tip fly line, which will give a very slow subtle fly sink rate.
· Do nothing retrieve (nymphing), this is a very effective method to utilize. Just cast along submerged boulders/ rock bar drop offs and let it sink deep, maintain flyline contact (ready for the strike), then apply the very occasional twitch. In the clear water, most times you’ll spot the inquisitive fish cruise out from under their cover and inhale the fly. If not, I’ll excite the fish into striking by employing a short darting action to the fly. Number one rule is to maintain line tension, slack lines and weed guards are a sure way to lose fish.
· Avoid bright colours and excessive flash materials, pink/ black Mega Dobson were great during the early high water season, now I prefer to use natural colours such as black/ rust browns with a splattering of bronze Gliss n Glow. I’ve reduced the weighted eyes to 3/16 to increase fly action and stepped up the mono weed/ snag guard to 80lb Rio Heavy Tippet material, full confidence is guaranteed with this set up.
Aqua Design has released a new range of clothing products featuring their impressive camouflage water design, useful for any fishing, photography or wildlife adventure. Their clothing products can be seen in many of my video clips and photos on this site. I’m proud to be associated with and a Pro Staff member of Aqua Design Clothing. To view more of their range or place an order, go to www.aquadesign.com Nick
Thinking about giving flyfishing for Murray Cod a go? Winter is the perfect time to get all your tackle together and build up the fly collection. Perhaps you could work on getting some casting tuition, working it all out on the battle field can cause a lot of unnecessary frustration. Although it’s still possible to successfully target Cod during the colder months, I’ve found that there tends to be a lot of casting in between fish and I’ve also developed a bad habit of accidently falling in the river. Knowing that our fishing adventure opportunities will dwindle over the next few months, Jason and I hit the rivers with a vengeance. As usual we start the day with a bit of bantering, leading to a debate on who’s going to nail that elusive one metre fish. How obsessed are we? We’ve even worked on camera poses and photo angles for when it does eventuate. Nearing the end of the day, Jason had his chance with one of the mystical river monsters. There was none of the usual hollering or yelling that happens when fighting smaller fish, Jason knew he was connected to something special. We were both gutted when the barbless hook pulled on that big horse. Nick
Snag dwellers such as the Murray Cod, benefit from the use of a specialised weedguard. Over the years we have tried many styles; for the most part they have all worked. It’s a fine line in creating the perfect weedguard, to developing the ultimate fish guard. Below is an example of our simple front mono loop weed guard that will be found on most of our successful fly patterns. We have found this style of guard to be durable and provide the most consistent hook ups. Gamakatsu’s SL12s in size 6/0 is a hook that we base many of our Cod patterns on. It has taken a fair bit of experimenting to find the optimum size mono to meet our requirements. Finally we settled on RIO’s 60lb Heavy Shock Tippet, it fills the balance between fish/snag guard. It can be tied in at the beginning of the fly tying procedure or half way, on some patterns such as the Fatboy, it’s easier to finish off with the loop. Nick
1.Lay thread base2. Form loop in mono so it clears hook point by 2-3mm, crimp mono at tie in area with pliers. Add Super Glue to provide extra security 3. Build up with thread in front and behind until in the satisfactory position. 4. weed guard construction completed. 5.weed guard construction completed. (Front view)