Imagine moving from British Columbia, Canada to Tenterfield, flyfishing opportunity’s had taken a big nose dive. Instead of sulking around, Jason enlisted the use of modern technology to find what species are available in his local area. A quick google revealed that Aussie native Cod are a worthy challenge on fly and would hopefully fill the void created since moving to our Aussie shores. With the aid of the Flylife forums he discovered there were other anglers out there that shared his passion for fish on fly.
Through work commitments he found himself based at my small home town of Ashford, now not many anglers chase cod on fly in Ashford and it didn’t take long before the locals pointed him in my direction. Within minutes of meeting, talk soon turned to flyrods, tackle and flies. As luck would have it, Peter Morse and I had planned to spend a few days floatboating some of the local waters in the New England. An invite to join Peter and myself was soon arranged. Peter soon kitted Jason out for the day with some of Sages finest tackle, specialized Bass rod and fly lines perfectly matched for our native cod fishing. (Thanks Morsie) after the day’s end and much bantering, Jason had absorbed information like a sponge.
Several months past until we could organise another trip, hopefully testing out Jason’s newly acquired gear. Fishing the Bottlebrush infested river calls for some form of watercraft, targeting repetitive casts under the overhanging foliage. Jason employed the use of his float tube while I used my invaluable float boat. We both used Sage 330gr Largemouth Bass rods; Jason matched his with a 10 wt Rio Tarpon sink tip while I used a full intermediate line, only because I had left my sink tip line at home. Casting under a Willow tree resulted in a massive jolt from a good sized Cod, the fight was like being chained to a bulldozer. It was in prime condition considering the low water levels the fish had endured during summer. Within minutes Jason’s enthusiasm was rewarded with a Cod repeatedly boiling at his 2/0 rattling clouser. Finally it happened and a Cod smashed his fly violently. His hands trembled with excitement when the fish rose to the surface. And after a series of photos it was released back to freedom. Jason had finally lost his “Codless Canadian” title!
Fishing was slow and hard going, but we were encouraged throughout the day from many short striking fish. Often inquisitive Cod would swim under our craft as we manoeuvred into position. Firing a low angled skip cast, deep under a tangled mess of tree limbs resulted in a subtle strike. Instantly the pale coloured Cod rose to the surface. The fight was dogged and my arms ached from the intense battle. Netting the fish was another feat with only 2/3 of the fish actually fitting in.
Removing the hook from the fish revealed why they are in such good condition, with the remains of 20cm fish still in its mouth, most probably a common Carp. Casting a 4/0 rattling clouser in front of a submerged tree was absolutely hammered with a series of rod jolting hits, giving its identity away as Golden Perch.
Much of the time the fish would hit the fly on the drop and quite subtle. Throwing surface flies into the evening resulted in a couple of short strikes. Successful patterns ranged from 2/0 and 4/0 rattling Clousers, tied on super sharp Gamagatsu sl12s hooks. A modest tally of 5 Murray Cod and 1 Golden Perch for the day was still good going, especially when a newbie scores his first of a species.
One of the Cod I caught still had a 2 ½ inch freshwater Mussel in its mouth and the smell of these fish was horrendous, the Floatboat was covered in a mash of grey and orange goo. Nearing the end of the hole I put a perfect cast deep under a overhanging Bottlebrush, then all hell broke loose when a big Cod smashed the fly. I struggled to budge him from the middle of his home. During the brief mallee I felt the searing pain in my left shoulder an obvious muscle tear, just as I gained control the hook pulled and under close examination revealed a bent hook gape on a 4/0 Owner.
It only took around 60 metres of river before I gained a result, the cast was a gem directed deep under an Osage Orange tree. I shouted to Pat “that’s worth a fish!” then with one bloop of the fly a huge implosion of water, the only problem was trying to get him out. This was a big fish and I applied some real pressure to get him out in the open, then in an anti climax the hooks simply pulled. Undaunted I kept plugging casts deep, minutes later a small Cod Flashed twice under the popper. Watch this I yelled to Pat! With just a subtle twitch he simply sipped the fly like a Trout.
Hot weather Cod!
Looking back now, what the hell were we thinking! With a lethal combination of forty degree heat, heavy backpacks loaded with Floatboats, fly gear and cameras. We had hatched a plan to trek down onto the Severn River, to pursue Murray Cod.
The river was still in the recovery mode after all the recent floods, we were unsure of the effects it had taken on the resident fish. Weaving our way through acres of black Pine and Tea tree bush, Spider webs mazed across many of the trees. Cunningly I let Jason take the lead to clear the path.
Reaching the river exhausted we sat and admired this rugged landscape! The river bed is a mixture of thick Bottlebrush and Granite boulders, where walking is hard enough let alone trying to fish it.
While Jason inflated his Watermaster I pointed out likely Cod holding water, remembering this is skinny water fishing not your usual river scenario. I commented smugly to Jason I’d show him how it’s done, dapping the fly among some submerged Bottlebrush and area no larger than an average dining table. Instantly a small Cod raced out and smashed my Rattling Clouser!. Although on the lean side the fish seemed healthy, with a few quick photos he was released. When the next fish was pulled out only inches from the first, we just looked at each other in amazement.
Once in our Floatboats we worked the larger pools methodically, but it seemed the fish preferred the quiet backwaters away from the main flow of the river. In a little horse shoe shaped section we were entertained by constant hits from small feisty fish. It gave us a chance to work on our strip strike techniques, which went from mild to wild!
Water clarity made it difficult to target the large submerged boulders, so most times it was a case of bashing casts under overhanging Bottlebrush. These aggressive little fish can provide some special memories! And by the day’s end we released eleven Cod, not large but it was good to see they survived the floods.
The trek out was absolutely exhausting! Our clothes were soaked with sweat and our legs very weiry!
We both used Sage Largemouth Bass rods, Rio 10wt Tarpon floating/ inter sink tip flylines. Jason had his new Watermaster Kodiak floatboat, mine an Incept floatboat. During the day we experimented with different flies, but with the current river conditions the flashy rattling Clousers excelled.