Flyfishing for Australian Murray Cod

Crazy Cod action!.

Patrick was doing a fishing road trip from Maitland up to the New England. Murray Cod was high on his list, so I organised a quick trip to some of our local waters. What we didn’t realise is that this was going to be one of those special days that as fisherman, we all dream about. Conditions were almost perfect with a high barometer followed by an impending low, the water clarity was slightly off but I was confident we would still land fish on the day.
Pat was the fishing the more traditional tackle, lures, Spinnerbaits and Baitcaster gear. For anyone who has watched “Bass the Movie” the rivalry between the different fishing codes always remains embedded, no matter the species being persued.
Slipping the kayak into the water, Pat wasted no time prospecting under the shaded bankside vegetation with his proven spinnerbait. As I fired a cast along the first overhanging log, instantly a flash of mottled green boiled from under the log. Although this looks impressive, it’s more of a territorial reaction than a fair dinkum strike. Just as I was in the process of changing flies Pat called out, I’m on!. It was a beautiful solid Cod around the high 50cm mark, with few photos he was quickly released.
After changing to a dirty water rattling Clouser, this fly contains a different rattle pitch and tied up entirely of Sparkleflash material. The penny soon dropped as to what the fish wanted after the next subtle Cod strike. For a split second the worked fly was ever so faintly pushed forward, momentarily losing contact with it. Now what I’ve learnt after many years chasing Cod is that you cannot force them to chase down a quickly stripped fly. It’s often a case of changing tactics to suit, so next cast I simply let the sink tip flyline do its thing. Then all of a sudden the sinking Clouser came up tight, I set the hook with a violent strip strike. The battle between Cod and man is usually won or lost in seconds, low rod angles and hoping knots hold as you pull like hell, forcing them from under their snaggy dwellings. From then on it comes down to slow bullocking runs, but with the Floatboat and flippers you simply follow them around maintaining pressure until they tire.
The fish was in immaculate condition, its bulging stomach loaded with crustaceans which was confirmed after it spewed up a large yabby nipper onto my stripping apron. I let Pat fish the right hand side of the river which usually fishes more consistently than the left, its bank shaded and cooled by huge overhanging Osage Orange trees and a twisted mass of Bottlebrush trees. But I could see Pat struggling to get his lures through the forest of low limbs, often he would have to go in to rescue trebled armed lures that constantly hung up.
I was confident I had cracked a pattern, cast tight into structure and let it sink then if no result, then add a short twitch then let it sink again. The next fish was an absolute cracker, with a few minutes of mayhem I managed to wrestle him from under his home. Pat snapped of a barrage of photos with my Canon camera, I was like a kid in a lollie shop and to catch fish like these on the fly was an unbelievable buzz.
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.
When we reached the end of the hole we rested for a few minutes, Pat couldn’t believe how effective the fly was and he couldn’t match the less intimidating presentation of the fly. And the way the single hook fly could be cast so effectively under the overhanging foliage, where as his lures failed miserably. We planned to fish back up the river this time swapping sides, even though it was around midday I switched to one of my weedgaurded 4/0 Bendy poppers. I reckoned there was lots of untouched water deep under the trees the challenge of pulling off the perfect skip cast also makes this form of fishing rewarding.
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.
By now you could see Patrick getting frustrated, his lures failing to even get a sniff even after switching to paddling type surface lures, nothing. Clouds were just starting to roll in and the fishing started to really hot up. Two casts under a Silky Oak another good Cod crashed the popper, Pat was 100mts away and he could still hear the commotion clearly, by now he was sick of taking photos. I almost crapped myself when one fish boofed at the fly, when I was looking too cast elsewhere Boom! When I reached the head of the pool it narrowed up to a few metres wide, flicking the popper just off the rod tip when another good Cod smashed the fly. This was fishing nirvana, it was only a case of flicking the popper through narrow gaps and these Ninjas would come from nowhere.
The surface takes was as aggressive as I’ve ever seen, there was no rolling over the fly, no short strikes, no boils just great big implosions. One Cod flew out from under his overhanging snag, slid under the stationary fly and with 4 inches to go simply inhaled the popper.
I don’t know how many Murray Cod I caught probably around 10 on poppers, 5 or 6 on subsurface I’m not sure, maybe more. But there was some screamers amongst them, Pat caught 2 on Spinnerbaits. The tackle used was a Sage Largemouth Bass rod, Sage 4580 Flyreel. This rod is a absolute weapon for close quarter Cod fishing, Pat was astounded by how damn effective it was. I used a Rio 10wt Tarpon sink tip flyline throughout the day, even when fishing topwater with the Bendy poppers.
Enjoy, Nick.
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One response

  1. Patrick walker

    Hi nick just found your site good story. Only thing is I reckon you underestimated the number of fish you caught on that surface popper, it felt like double that. I have never seen anything like it. Look forward to taking on the fly again soon hopefully with the results swingin more my way. Cheers Pat

    May 27, 2011 at 10:29 am

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