Bring on the big cold, bring out the bigger cod!

31 05 2012

It’s pretty well known that fish and especially our natives such as Murray Cod are much more active in warmer water and as a result fishing does become tougher as the weather cools right off. But as the weather does become rather cold the larger fish tend to stay reasonably active. Making for long trips with plenty of work put in but often very rewarding in the size of fish caught.

After experiencing our first couple of frosts for the year and temperatures getting well below zero I would have been mad not to organise a trip with my best mate, Shannon, out to some water I know for its bit more quality of fish.

After setting up the camp we walked down to the water to find that is was rather low and crystal clear. Visibility was amazing with you being able to see perfectly as far as possible, seeing the bottom of the river no matter where you went.

With perfect conditions for doing so, we began the trip first by kayaking a large hole. The cold weather was proving itself with not even a touch for the first 45 minutes. However finally I dropped my spinnerbait down in front of a rock where as soon as I began my retrieve I see a large dark shape appear from no where. The fish hit hard in plain view but somehow didn’t manage to hook up. Seeing as this was at the bottom of the hole we decided to work our way down river from here.

The water downstream was equally as clear with sightings of eel-tailed catfish in a few small holes. Reaching some holes I had caught fish in before I realise that they too are extremely low, I also found out how cold the water really was whilst trying to save a snagged lure.

Moving down further to another large but predominantly shallow hole I look under a tree next to the bank and quickly point out to Shannon a large Yellowbelly just sitting there. Many lures were brought past it and even dropped on its nose for not sign of interest at all.

Now keeping our eyes open we start to notice many cod ranging from about 50cm to up around 70cm and large Yellowbelly all sitting in tight to the snags. Amazed enough with the fish we were seeing I soon hear Shannon yell out to me as an absolute monster of a cod, which would be well over a metre, slowly swims through the snags in front of us.

Many casts are put out and retrieved in front of the massive river fish and once again lures dropped on its nose but the gentle giant just continued to swim along as slow as he had been, not even taking any notice.

Now amazed by the fish we had seen but yet to catch a fish ourselves we decided to head off even further down river. Traversing through thick trees, jumping from rock to rock and hiking many kilometres we found very few fishable holes. Shannon did manage one solid hook up to a large fish in a small hole that just stripped drag for a few seconds before throwing the spinnerbait.

With the water being so shallow yet there still being plenty of fish holding in and along rocky points I made the bold move of chucking on a soft plastic, something I’d generally use in the warmer months.

The soft plastic proved a good option with often having small fish fly up from rocks and hitting the tail of the lure hard. Sadly hook ups weren’t proving very strong with all the little fellas dropped.

Finding another large hole our excitement grew only to be disappointed as we realise it is loaded full of sand from the floods and mostly not much over a foot deep. However finding a deeper bit of water with a slight drop off behind it I flick out my plastic. Only one flick of the tail and a smaller fish flies up and grabs the lure.

One quick run and I had dropped another fish. After dropping the fish I continue the retrieve in giving the plastic a very slow wounded looking action when from only about 2 feet of water a very nice fish appears and just devours the plastic and is solidly hooked in the top of its mouth.

The fish ran hard straight away and fought very hard with many head shakes and erratic behavior while I was trying to get him to the bank. Every time the fish would turn and throw its head I would feel my entire body going numb as I dreaded the hook pulling or straightening with the weight of the fish. Also as I brought the fish in closer there were 3 more smaller cod swim in behind it to take a look.

Finally I had the fish at the bank to find that it was in fact a new river fishing personal best coming in not far below 80cm. Sadly my mate didn’t realise the camera was on the wrong setting and the photos came out blurry but luckily I managed to resurrect one enough to see the fish.

13cm Gladiator Smash Bait, baitfish, on 1/4oz jig head

Now extremely happy with my efforts and the visuals that came with it I marched on even further downstream for a couple of kilometres. Finally we had reached a point where the lack of food packed for the trek had made our hungry selves turn around and begin our very long journey back to the camp.

Getting back to camp not long before dark we quickly filled ourselves with food before heading along the river for a surface fishing session. On the surface the fish were rather quiet in the beginning with only one small fish hitting behind my lure. However after turning around to head back and fishing over the water we’d covered earlier things did heat up a little.

A cast over shallow water leading into a drop off seen an extremely loud “VOOMP” noise underwater as a large fish turned at my lure and produced a bow wave that pushed it a few metres along the surface. Many cast were had back over the same place and area but for no luck.

After giving up on that fish and moving along slightly I cast right across river and began my retrieve. By the time the lure had reached mid-river a massive explosion erupts as a very large fish breaks the surface behind my lure. However once again the fish would not return.

Not long after this we were back at camp for another feed, mucking around and then into our swags around the camp fire to end what had been a bit of a slow day on the water.

However through the night I roll over in my swag to see that the fire had gone out. I had plans to get up before the sun and start my fishing early so I thought it best to get up now and re-light it so that it was still going for the morning as temperatures were very low.

After getting the fire roaring I decide that it would be pointless getting up and not having a quick flick below the camp despite knowing the water was mostly only around a foot deep. I quickly grab Shannon’s rod and head down to fish in the light of the fire.

First cast straight out in front, nothing. Second cast to the side, nothing again. Third cast I place back out in front of me and retrieve with a stop, start all the way in to my feet where I hear the familiar “VOOMP” I had heard before. Now excited I cast back out again using the same retrieve, nothing again. One more cast back mid river now using a steady, slow, constant retrieve when water is thrown everywhere as the lure is ambushed and devoured.

As the rod loaded up I began screaming out to a sleeping Shannon who refused to wake up. I turned on my headlight to provide more light as I fought the fish. This fish was not fighting like the last one but choosing to take long powerful runs which at times seemed impossible to stop. Getting the fish in the water in front of me I seen its size and began to panic and continued to scream out to Shannon.

Eventually I managed to land the fish on my own. From here I took it up, kicked Shannon while he slept and got him to help me with the photos, unhooking, measuring and release.

This fish now topping my last fish and smashing its way up to a tied personal best biggest cod for me.

Hydrobug Jerimiah Surface Lure

A shot down the fish..

Now of course following this fish I couldn’t sleep from the adrenaline so it was out for a night time kayak fish. However the fish did not play and we soon returned frozen to the warmth of the fire and swags.

Keeping to my plans of getting up before the sun I quickly kicked out the kayak in the crisp morning air. Many hours were once again spent out on the water, even seeing fish sitting underneath me, but for no result.

Eventually we gave up on the fishing for a while and decided to have our fun taking the kayaks down rapids and small falls.

As the afternoon wore on we decided to head out for a quick fish again before heading home. This time walking again.

The fish were once again very quiet with only the occasional little guy chasing a lure or aggressively hitting a lure as it went over its home. Time soon got the better of us and we had to head back, only fishing in the occasional spot.

One little spot to catch my eye on the way back was a steep undercut bank, here I told Shannon to have a cast but he chose not to so I quickly threw my lure along the bank. Part way in I watch as a nice little cod flies out from underneath the bank and attacks the lure. After grabbing the lure it didn’t fight near as hard but was still very great to see. This fish wasn’t as big but still over legal.

Hydrobug Severn Chances

With time now up this fish marked the final for the trip. Not many fish caught but definitely what I’d consider successful even if Shannon had lucked out this time around.

 

The Gear Used:

The two combos used was a Banax Syren matched with a Banax Vanessa 10-14lb, 6’6″ 2 piece rod and a Banax Avalon matched with a Gladiator Cape Yorker 8-10kg, 1.2m kayak rod. These two rods are extremely easy to maneuver through the rough country with whilst still offering ultimate performance casting accurately and at distance with varying sizes of cod fishing lures.

The 3 lures that done the damage include:
13cm Gladiator Smash Bait, baitfish soft plastic on a 3/4oz jig head.
Hydrobug Jerimiah
Hydrobug Severn Chances

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