NOW, before I start I should make it clear that I am not much of a fisherman. It was my brother-in-law Michael that suggested a little camping trip just “for us boys”; he was bringing along his two sons, so I thought I’d give it a go.
Michael really knows how to sell you a story – he told me a little bit about the beauty of the river and explained that cod give up the fight pretty quickly once you hook them, so even someone as inexperienced as me could have some success with a little advice and good fishing equipment.
We prepared the boat and packed the essentials like warm clothes, some food and our fishing gear. Michael said that aeroplane spinners and shrimp are excellent for enticing cod, and made sure we brought extra warm clothes for the kids – their mother left no room for further discussion on the subject. Since my wife Susan and I were visiting Michael in Adelaide, it only took about five hours of driving along the Sturt Highway to get to Mildura and from there (after stopping to grab a bite and let the kids go to the bathroom) we went down Eleventh street and turned into Irymple avenue which led us straight to the Kings Billabong Reserve and the Murray River.
Camping on the riverbank is very relaxing and it is a huge adventure for the kids, but I should mention here that we were warned to watch out for falling branches as the red gum trees are notorious for having big branches fall off unexpectedly.
Bruce’s Bend is a great fishing spot with a boat ramp, so we got in the water as soon as we could. As the day slowly went by we were beginning to get a little disappointed, as all we have managed to catch were a couple of carp. The carp is a huge pest and should not be returned if caught, so I guess we at least had something to show for our troubles.
Later in the day, however, Michael caught a yellowbelly after a fair bit of struggle, and had me hold it while he took a picture. A bit of advice for all you first time fishermen out there: let the more experienced fisherman on the boat handle the yellowbelly as it is very easy to cut your fingers on the gill cover… I found this out the hard way and had Michael rolling on the floor laughing as I scrambled around trying to grab the fish that had fallen from my arms.
The Murray River was a bit generous later in the day and we eventually caught a decent sized cod – we let Jack, Michael’s youngest son, have credit for the catch. Soon after that it was time to pack up and head back to Adelaide, as the wives were getting impatient (we were supposed to have dinner with the in-laws that night), but the whole experience was wonderful and I promised Michael I would set aside a whole weekend for cod fishing the next time we visit!