Shenae Ciesiolka with a decent cod that would give any light yellowbelly setup a good workout.

Murray cod on worms

OUR midyear western river trip was one of extraordinary circumstances and outcomes when it came to targeting Murray cod on the Barwon/Macintyre River. The humble worm was worth its weight in gold to any angler casting a line on this border river system between Goondiwindi and Mungindi during winter.

Fortune favoured the ritual of bloodworm gathering from the rich black soils of the Darling Downs when 125mm of steady rain fell in a day and a half at the start of May. When the water subsided from the paddocks an ample supply of bloodworms was literally handpicked under strewn flood debris.

On location, my lazy efforts of sitting a rod in a holder on the riverbank paid dividends. I was surprised as I watched it perform like a magical wand, with a quality cod being summoned shortly after setting up. Since several cod had been taken by my companions and were already in the Esky, I decided that my capture would be released.

Word had spread of easy cod pickings in the river system for the past several weeks and Fisheries officers were out in force and doing the rounds to make sure bag and size limits were adhered to. It was good to meet up with them and get the gossip on what was happening in neighbouring areas.

Another pleasing aspect of the trip was a fact and fiction talk that our team engaged in with Fisheries officers Paul and Coby to sort out border river rules and regulations, which can be confusing if not frustrating. Changes are frequent from Queensland and NSW Fisheries departments, and keeping up with the latest is required in the planning stages of a trip out here.

Sitting on the riverbank and targeting yellowbelly with bloodworms on a 2/0 hook was another tactic employed. But things don’t always go to plan. A combination of rising and falling river flow over a week from upstream catchment run-off and warm water pushing down during -4C air temperatures had the cod in ‘very active’ mode.

It reminded me of flathead fishing because we were casting into a slow-moving back eddy or out of the main flow with a running sinker. We played out some line and let the bait roll into the deeper water with the current where the cod were waiting to pounce. Using a 10kg or heavier mono leader was enough to stop the raspy teeth of ‘old bucket mouth’ gnawing through the line, with a number of 20kg monsters among the fray.

Our fish stocking team’s eyes were certainly opened to a phenomenal week of unheard of Murray cod fishing. Practicality was required, so when a sizeable cod was landed it was only sensible to move a few metres up or downstream for the next cast because these fish are known for territorial aggression.

Mind you, I was graced by the same cod twice. It was hooked two times within 10 minutes and 10m apart – I recognised the fish by the cut inside its gob that occurred when it swallowed the first worm offering. I had moved downstream to avoid this scenario but it goes to show that fish don’t always move upstream.

Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol paid the author’s team a visit during a week-long sojourn.
Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol paid the author’s team a visit during a week-long sojourn.
Brett Ciesiolka wasn’t disappointed to capture a quality yellowbelly considering the rest of the fishing family was engaging Murray cod on similar worm offerings.
Brett Ciesiolka wasn’t disappointed to capture a quality yellowbelly considering the rest of the fishing family was engaging Murray cod on similar worm offerings.
Brodie Ciesiolka used a boat for better access and cast lightly weighted worm rigs into the slower back eddies for golden perch but was greeted with a much better surprise.
Brodie Ciesiolka used a boat for better access and cast lightly weighted worm rigs into the slower back eddies for golden perch but was greeted with a much better surprise.
Tiffany Ciesiolka fished off the bank and applied straightforward yellowbelly tactics to land this solid cod, proving truth in the saying: “Big hooks catch big fish but small hooks catch all fish.”
Tiffany Ciesiolka fished off the bank and applied straightforward yellowbelly tactics to land this solid cod, proving truth in the saying: “Big hooks catch big fish but small hooks catch all fish.”

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About Noal Kuhl

Noal Kuhl

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