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THE MIGHTY MURRAY COD
"In 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 the way.
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 places.

For the 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.

The 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.
 

TROLLING
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 consequently
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.
 

CASTING
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 under yourfeet). 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, into a
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.
 

FLY FISHING
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.  You 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 snags.
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. Clousers Deep
Minnow and other weighted minnow or shrimp patterns are also very good.
 

BEST TIMES
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 release.
Anyone can kill a Cod, but it takes a special person to let one go.
                                           
RECIPE FILE
Murray 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 recipes.
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.

 

For more information on fishing holidays in Australia, contact
Garry Goldate
PO Box 287
Elsternwick
Victoria 3185
Australia
ph: + 61-3-9783 1104
fax:   61 3 9783 1017
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 galco98@hotmail.com

 

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