the beginning the land of the Yorta Yorta was an arid plain. Biami,
theYorta Yorta creator being, sent his woman through the land in search
offood. As she passed over the land she dragged her digging stick,
stopping now and then to dig yams and tubers, forming sand hills along
Biami became worried, because his wife had been gone a long time, so he
sent the Rainbow Serpent to follow her trail. The Serpent's writhing
body cut deep trenches through the plains, at several places diving
beneath the land and and creating deep holes, and his flicking tail
creating sand ridges.
Biami called forth great rains that began to fill the trails left
by the Rainbow Serpent, and with this the ancient river known as
Dhungulla (the River Murray) was formed.
From this time on the Yorta Yorta did not have to forage on a dry arid
plain, butbecame strong and healthy on the bounty of this river and its
wetlands." The Yorta
Yorta people had laws and custodial rights bestowed upon them since this
creation, ensuring that they lived as one with their environment, and
protected all living things within it. Relatiomships were developed with
the many varieties of flora and fauna, known as totems,
and ensured that all species were treated with reverence.
A major economic resource for the Yorta Yorta was the river's fish. The
Murray Cod holds an esteemed place, not only as a source of food but as
part of creation.The giant cod moves through the land following
underground rivers and reservoirs, coming to the surface at sacred water
holes. YortaYorta law prohibits the taking of food in these sacred
Aboriginals, fish and waterbirds formed a large part of their diet.
Ancient fish traps at Brewarrina confirm this (they are still there to
thisday). Aboriginals only took enough for their daily needs and put no
pressure on the rivers ecosystem, which was maintained for thousands
ofyears. All this changed with colonisation
The early european explores and
settlers used the Aboriginals methods to capure the mighty Cod, spears,
nets and traps, but added their own refinement by stabbing them with
bayonets, shooting them and blasting them with powder. The Murray Cod
was a great food source for the early settlers.
It was easy to prepare, just throw it on the hot coals of the fire and
share it around when done.
Ever since colonisation the Yorta Yorta people have sought a greater say
in the management of the river environment only to be rebuffed by
successive governments. Oh what a short sighted people we are. Nothing
on the river or it's environs would ever be the same again.
Now the Murray Cod or Goodoo in
the local vernacular is a real Australian icon. They are the glamourous
leviathans of Australia's outback lakes and rivers, the largest of our
freshwater species,and the third largest freshwater fish in the world.
If given the opportunity it can grow to enourmous size. The largest
officially recorded Cod was caught in the Barwon River near Walgett and
weighed in at 113kg, that's over 250 pounds.
Most Cod caught now are between 2 and 20kg, although every year fish of
50kg and more are being caught and landed, with many more hooked and
lost,due to snags, gear failure and angler error.
Murray Cod inhabits all of the Murray-Darling System. The Murray-Darling
is 3750km long. The Murray River itself is 2500kms long, making it the
third biggest river in the world. It is every Aussie anglers dream to
catch this prized fish. Hooking one however, is not that easy.
Murray Cod are a structure
oriented fish. They are a lazy fish, and prefer the
sluggish, slow flowing areas of streams. You will find them living in
amongst underwater snags, under logs, in the backwash of boulders,
around dead trees, under rock ledges and undercut banks. During dailight
they remain close to home, where they wait in ambush for passing food
items.At night they are apt to roam farther afield, patrolling the river
in search of yabbies, shrimp and other food. Over a short distance
they are as quick as lightning. Murray Cod are greedy, and not a dainty
feeder such as trout. They make a rush at their prey, grab it and crush
it with their powerful
jaws. The size of a cod's mouth, when fully opened is remarkable. Some
Cod have mouths big enough to swallow a basketball. Have no fear about
using large lures.
The most popular method of
fishing for Murray Cod is trolling a lure behinda boat. It's also one of
the more leisuely ways of fishing and gives you a chance to have a beer
or two. You should troll dead slow for Cod, although it is not easy to
get it right. If your rod tip isn't moving, you are trolling to slow and
your lure could be bobbing along on the surface behind you. If your
rod's bent in a curve, you are trolling to fast.At the right speed your
rod tip should be pulsing in time with the lures action. Troll your
lure 20 to 30 meters behind the boat, and be careful to allow for the
path the lure will take when trolling in and around trees and snags. Troll
fairly close to the shoreline, you won't find Cod in really deep water,
they prefer depths of around 3 to 6 meters. A depth sounder is a
definate advantage. Keep a constant lookout for underwater obstuctions
and put your lure as close to them as possible. Be prepared to lose a
few lures. If you're not close enough to snags to lose lures, you're not
close enough to catch fish. If your lure hits a snag, quickly back up
and let it float over the obstruction. Of course after a few snags you
become accoustomed to giving slack line at the first sign of pressure.
This unfortunately can
lead to a situation like the one I heard of when an angler was trolling
along and hooked into a huge Murray Cod. Thinking it was another snag,
he free spooled his reel and the fish bolted through the snag to the
other side of the river, leaving the reel in a bad birds nest and
breaking off. A possible trophy fish lost by an anglers mistake.
Stay alert. Combining trolling and casting can be very productive. Cast
into the gaps between sangs while you are trolling a lure behind the
boat. This enables you to get into spots you can't by trolling. When
fishing the Murray River it is hard to measure distance due to the way
the river meanders all over the place, so every 2kms there are signs
telling you how far from the river mouth you are. Be aware of the signs
of possible danger
that are posted on the banks. Make sure your motor is not locked down.
Care must be taken around the snags, and one certainty you can rely on
is that your propellor will hit a few snags.
When trolling, a lot of the fight
can be taken out of the fish by the time you realise you have hooked
one. That's why I prefer to cast and retrieve. It's a more proactive way
of fishing, and the strike and fight of a Murray Cod when it takes your
lure is fantastic. Of course you fish the same
areas, snags, around dead trees, undercut banks etc. It's just that you
are fighting the fish, not the boat. There is a down side of course,
like the time I was fishing from the bank of the Murray River and hooked
into a big Cod (often when walking the banks you will find fish right
It felt like a floating log as it swam out of it's hole to the other
side of the river, where it broke me off. It probably didn't even know
it was hooked. There are many stories like this, such as the time an
angler(using 20kg breaking strain line) cast into a nest of redgums,
deep pocket of water between the trunks. A big Cod took his lure
and bolted as the hooks bit deep, all this despite a locked down drag.
The angler locked both his thumbs on the spool to stop the fish, but all
he got was a couple of burnt thumbs and the fish broke off. Many
fishermen have gone to heavier and heavier line in an attempt to combat
this problem. One such fisherman has only 50 meters of 40kg breaking
strain line on his reel. When he hooks a fish it's simply a tug of war
that results in either a landed fish, pulled hooks, the line breaking of
or the split rings
straightening. At one stage he became extremely agitated because
after catching two 40kg Murray Cod, he had lost an even bigger fish when
the hooks staightened. It's enough to make you cry.This type of
fisherman is of course not a sportfisherman. While the heavier line does
improve your chance, the fact is that it's unsportsman like and limits
your enjoyment of our wonderful sport.
Murray Cod will take flies as
readily as they take lures. However fly-fishing for these green fish is
somewhat limited by the turbid waters of our outback rivers. However
when the rivers are clear enough, the hard hitting Cod is a fly fishers
delight. If dirty water is unavoidable, flies need to be large and bulky
and create an underwater disturbance.
Murray Cod are not hard to catch on fly. Delicate presentations are not
called for. Smash your fly down hard on the water and create some noise.
This will get the Cod's attention. Let the fly sink for a few seconds,
the start a slow strip-pause retrieve, with short, sharp tugs through
the strike zone.Allow long pauses between strips to let the fly sink.
Fish asyou would for Trout and always keep your fly hard against cover.
can expect a strike at any stage.Use a seven to nine weight outfit, this
should handle most Cod that you encounter. Because big fish are there to
be caught, a tippet of 6kg is recomended, with a short length of 10kg
shock tippet to counter your line being bitten through or breaking on
The most popular Murray Cod flies are, Pink Things, Silicon Head
Streamers, Whistlers and any pattern with lead eyes. These flies swim
with an undulating motion and will sink between strips. This has proven
more effective than the level swimming action of enweighted flies.
Minnow and other weighted minnow or shrimp patterns are also very good.
The best time of the year to fish
for Murray Cod is between November and Easter. Before November you are
fishing out of season, and after Easter the water will be getting to
cold and the fish will be sluggish. In Autumn the water is still quite
warm and the Cod knows that the warm, summer feeding times are almost
over, they will be actively feeding, getting ready for the lean winter
times ahead. Most Cod anglers agree that the full moon gets the Cod
excited and ready to smash lure or fly. The best fishing is usually from
four days before till four days after the full moon.
Cod are affected by weather and atmospheric pressure. It is normally a
waste of time to fish when the barometer is falling. A rising barometer
is most important, with a reading of 1020 milibars being best. Old
timers recon the lead up to a thunderstorm is the best time of all. So
if you are fishing in March/April, during a period of a full moon, when
a thunderstorm is imminent and with a rising barometer of 1020 milibars
or more, well, your laughing. Break out the barbie. Of couse you may not
catch any fish, but the weather is just brilliant, and the crisp smell
of the bush, the singing of the cockatoos and other birds, it's just
great to be alive and on the river.
Please help us to preserve these great fish by practising catch and
Anyone can kill a Cod, but it takes a special person to let one go.
Cod are rated one of the best eating freshwater fish in Australia. It
has a great flavour, tender flaky flesh and can be used in all sorts of
To make the most of the fish's superb flesh, kill the Cod as soon as it
is caught by cutting it's throat. Then clean and gut the fish, taking
care to remove all the blood along it's spine.If possible refrigerate
the Cod overnight before skinning it. Many people consider the Murray
Cod to fatty to fry because of it's layer of fat between the skin and
flesh. This can be overcome by removing the fat. After skinning simply
scrape away the fatty layer with a sharp knife. This problem can be
further reduced by only eating the smaller, leaner fish and releasing
the larger breeders.
COD ON THE SPOT
There you are on the banks of the
mighty Murray River, you've just caught a Murray Cod and want to cook
it. Well all you need is a fire, a cleaned fish and some foil, of course
if you like that charcoal taste you don't even need the foil. Find a
nice safe spot. Light a fire and let it burn down
until you have some nice coals. Place the fish in the fire and cover
with coals. Leave until cooked. If cooking in foil you can add
falvourings such as butter, onion, garlic, lemon, herbs etc. The fish is
cooked when the flesh comes away from the bone when poked with a stick.
Chuck a few
potatoes into the fire as well. When done, serve to your mates around
the fire with a cold tinnie, or a chardonnay for one of the best meals
you'll ever have.
BAKED STUFFED MURRAY COD
Ingredients, 1 Murray Cod (about 2-3kg)cleaned & scaled. olive oil 1
Red Onion, sliced into rings 1 lemon, sliced into rings 2 Bananas 100gms
smoked bacon 100gms parmesan cheese Method Wash the fish well and pat
dry. Make diagonal slices across the back of the fish with a sharp
knife. Brush a large baking dish with olive oil and lay down a bed of
lemon rings. Mix Bananas, bacon and cheese and stuff into the cavity of
the fish. Put fish on lemon rings and top with red onion rings. Cover
dish with foil and cook in a preheated oven, 180C/350F for about 30
minutes, until fish is cooked and tender. Serve with new potatoes and
fresh vegetables. AUSSIE FISH CAKES
Australian cooking is a mixture of many influences. Here is a typical
new, inovative, exciting recipe that blends the best of east & west.
Ingredients. 1 kilo Murray Cod Fillets, cut into chunks 1 blade
lemongrass, bruised & chopped 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped 1cm
fresh root ginger, roughly chopped 1 red chilly pepper 1 handfull
coriander leaves, roughly chopped 1 teaspoon red curry paste 2
tablespoons coconut milk 1 tablespoon fish sauce 2 lime leaves, roughly
chopped freshyly ground black pepper 1 red pepper, finely chopped
vegetable oil white wine vinegar 100 gms snow peas coriander leaves,
chopped for garnish Method. Chuck everything apart from the red pepper,
vinegar, snow peas and the coriander garnish into a food processor and
blend into a spicy mush. Tip it out into a bowl and mix in the finely
chopped red pepper. Form into cakes (you can crumb them if you like) and
shallow fry in the vegetable oil for about 3 minutes each side, until
they are golden brown. Lift out and keep warm. Then into the hot oil
throw a dash of white wine vinegar and the snow peas. Fry quickly over a
high heat and pour over the fish cakes. Garnish with lots of chopped
coriander and you have a meal that epitomises the direction that
Australian cooking is heading. Absolutely delicious.