Flyfishing for Australian Murray Cod

Summer Storms

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


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