Flyfishing for Australian Murray Cod

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Calm b4 the storm

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.

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Charming Success

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


Surface Failings

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.

Rethink time!

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

Light Horseman Light Horseman Fly Cod on Light Horseman Fly


River Redemption Pt 2

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


River Redemption (pictorial)

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

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Working Hard

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.

Flies

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

Tackle

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.

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Green River Run

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.


Dry Times

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


Cold Water Cod

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
Cold Water Cod


Winter Time Blues

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


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