How to

New England Murray cod

THE New England area of NSW is such a superb fishery for Murray cod. The area features a diverse range of native cod water, from seldom-fished rivers, to the more popular impoundments.

The New England region is situated along the top part of NSW. Its many rivers and impoundments form the upstream portions of the Murray Darling system.

Cod dominate in these parts.

Murray cod are built for short, hard battles. Some are easy and some are just downright nasty. And they love lures!

As a keen lure fisho, they lend themselves to so many different techniques. That’s what makes them a freshwater gem. It is difficult to work out what is my favourite method to target cod, from throwing surface lures and explosive strikes, to swimbaits and unseen subtle takes. They are an amazing fish with power to burn and hopefully I can share some ideas on targeting these iconic fish.

Areas to search

When fishing for Murray cod there are always different areas that the cod like to hide out during different times. You then have to have an understanding of why the cod are there. Doing this it will hopefully help increase your chances of a successful trip.

Some of the different areas I try and look for are weed beds, fallen trees, points, back eddies, deep holes, etc. They love hiding outin structure.

Since Murray cod are an ambush predator they like to lurk around places where there is enough cover to keep themselves hidden, but are still able to strike at unexpecting prey. So, when fishing in the daylight, try fishing around places that offer them protection and cover like weed beds, laydown timber or deep holes.

As the light diminishes the fish start to make their way out from the cover in-search of prey.  But don’t be mistaken, Murray cod will still lurk within grounds of easy access to quick cover. Some may venture out into open water in search of prey, but most of the Murray cod will stick to their safer hunting grounds, amongst cover.In the cooler months the Murray cod are somewhat  lazy and very economical around burning too many calories chasing food.

Going slow is the go. Try to target areas where baitfish will most likely be perhaps near weed beds and fallen cover, this is because all of the bait fish will be trying to gain warmth by hovering in the top-half of the water column. Schools of bait try and find some cover from the predators, so focus on some structure or some weed like I mentioned. The cod are going to be patrolling these areas in-search of some easy prey.

When it gets warmer the bait disperse into the depths where it is cooler. Adjust your fishing methods as well, but as the temperature increases so to the does the variety of food, lizards, mice, small birds and large insects fill the diet of hungry cod. These warmer months are so special and fishing topwater on those warmer evenings can very rewarding, not to mention downright spectacular.


Tackle selection could be broken down into the type of areas fished. For example, we spend a fair amount of time in kayaks, therefore requiring a rod a little short then standard. We prefer to use a 6ft baitcast outfit as it allows us manoeuvrability but still if we need to dictate to the fish during a fight. Some areas allow bank access in which case a slightly longer rod would be useful. This helps with longer casts and little more leverage on fish in the closing stages on the fight.

Dam fishing however opens up a whole new range of tackle requirements with longer rods, heavier line and larger lures. Rods in the 8ft range are now the “norm” to enable the launching of 2oz plus lures of different styles to be used as virtual search baits to target fish hunting bait schools in shallow water.Whatever gear you chose to use to suit the area fished, it needs to be of good quality and able to stand up to short and brutal fights which cod are renowned for. To give some examples, our kayak gear is a 6ft outfit loaded with 20lb braid. Our bank-walking gear 6.6ft loaded with quality 30lb braid and our impoundment tackle we generally run 40lb braid over a 15-20kg rod, giving us a little more insurance against bigger fish amongst the sticks. Leaders are matched at the same weight as the main line, generally a rod length of good quality fluorocarbon is what is required and get into the habit of checking your knots and working end of your leader for wear spots and replace if necessary, leave nothing to chance.

Reel selection seems to favour a baitcast outfit as this style of gear offers the ability for pinpoint casts in tight cover, and with practice, being able to manufacture casts in and around cover not usually made possible by other forms of tackle. Brand selection is a personal preference but ensure whatever you choose has good drag pressure capability as strong angry fish in tight cover will test the best of gear. Turn up battle ready.


Whether using a soft plastic, swimbait or surface lure I always apply scent. If anything it always helps increase your chances by masking human odour. Scent works by replicating usual smells like food, which make the fish more eager and interested in your lure.

Scent also will increase how long the fish will hold onto your lure, because in a spit second the fish will recognise if there’s an unusual smell and spit the lure, so by covering these smells, most likely left by us, will put the fish slightly at ease when checking out your lure. Sure, there are many different flavours out there, like crab, garlic, aniseed, prawn, etc, and some of these flavours may seem a little different but not all scent have to be part of their diet. Most scents just have to either encourage the fish to strike instead of following behind or as I said earlier, to mask another scent such as human odour. So, every time I head out fishing, I always bring a couple of scent tubes which helps us increase our chances of catching fish.

Barometric Pressure & Moon phases

The subject of lunar cycles, barometric pressure and trying to line up the ducks to avoid a donut session can be a widely debated topic. I prefer to choose a more steady pattern rather than a certain time.

For instance, a barometric pressure over 1020 is great providing it hasn’t arrived at that figure from a sudden drop over a day or so. what I tend to look for is a constant pattern where there has been hope for adjustment by the fish letting them settle and relax. With moon phases, one week before and one week after generally fish the best for me. And also the extra light shines a path as you throw surface lures or negotiate your way through bankside cover. If you keep a record, it gives you reference to look back on and therefore gives you confidence to fish on through the quiet times. As we all know in cod fishing, one bite can be the difference between a smile and a frown.

Fish for The Future

I practice catch, photo and release, and always take care of the fish that are being handled and return them back safe and sound. Murray cod are also protected by seasonal closures so please check the regulations in your area as these rules are in place to ensure a good supply of numbers, and protection of fish during the breeding season. When handling Murray cod you have to put into consideration that they are very fragile, so if you are handling a cod, try not to use metal lip grips, since this can possibly pierce the bottom of the fish’s mouth. Instead, I use plastic lip grips because they are easier on the fish.

When using lip grips also remember to always support the fish under the belly, otherwise the majority of the weight is place on its neck. Another thing to watch for, is putting fish on hot rocks, sand, dirt, gravel etc. All of these surfaces damage the protective layer slime, which prevents bacteria and diseases from harming the fish.

So, keeping this layer as clean as possible is very beneficial for the fish’s health. If you are after a couple of nice photos hold the fish in the water until the camera gear is ready than out photo and back in super easy.

So, when fishing for Murray cod make sure you take care of the fish’s health and help return it back into the water to continue supporting the ecosystem and help ensure that the fish is there again for someone else to enjoy.

Final Words

Summing up, chasing Murray cod is an experience you need to try a least once, although chasing these fish is highly addictive.

When you take in the surroundings and tranquillity and what nature has to offer the experience is sometimes difficult to beat.

I hope in this article I have given you an insight on gear and other factors that will help you on your next outing chasing these majestic fish. 

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