It’s a country that has it all- wilderness, dramatic scenery, water of chalk-stream clarity, substantial runs of fresh Murray cod and the opportunity to take them on the surface with the riffle hitch – every conceivable fly fishing box is fundamentally crossed off! The variety is astonishing and the fishing is nothing short of addictive, and those who are fortunate enough to venture in to the night in pursuit of the might Murray cod. Soon find themselves planning their next fishing trip time and time again!
While one might expect nonstop action on the lake one should visit the river in the same mindset. Equally, the fishing on certain rivers isn’t for the faint-hearted, in some places verging on extreme with challenging wading and unpredictable conditions. It’s a matter of what you hope to get out of your trip. Bear in mind also that the fishing can and will vary greatly from one time to the next. But, whatever your priorities endure the elements and your cod fishing dreams will almost certainly come true.
Of late the water I’ve been targeting has been small skinny water with deep holes and a lot of structure and not very wide. Cast long distance hasn’t been an issue as for some of the casting has only been a few meters in front of me. It helps if you know your water your casting at for night time, fishing structure of any kind you may not see 100% isn’t a problem as you will have a fair idea were bout’s it is. When mentioning structure you’re not just looking for timber there is an array of obstruction’s’ to aim at. Standing and submerged trees, root balls, logs, small or large branches over hanging the water surface, then you have weed, lily’s pads and cumbungi weed beds. Let’s not forget rocky out looks like; undercut banks, boulders, drop of points under the water and rock walls! These are all spots were Murray cod and not leaving out Golden perch out as they will have a crack at a surface flies too. The depth of the water has an effect while surface fishing; you wouldn’t waste your time casting flies of any kind over 20ft of water. Ideally depth from 6ft to right in to the shallows of a foot you would cast at. Once the depth of the water starts getting too deep the fly won’t be in or even near the strike zone, you don’t want to waste valuable time casting and walking or night long. Working your fly right to the 10ft from the rod tip keeping tight and connected to the fly at all times. It’s like the cod knows that the fly is just about to be lifted off the water and an insane strike happens at your feet and scares the life out of you.
The technique is to cast your fly across the river, small stream land base close as possible to the back and any structure. Immediately being to twitch, strip and rip the fly back in a similar way to any lure you might fish. Often action is instant and cod boil at the fly surface or sub-surface. Constancy moving fly will entice more strikes from the fish, than a non-moving fly. Not to say that also seduces the cod to woof the fly down too. Even tho they will reject the fly, casting several time in the same location could produce another savage strike. Quite often the same fish will rise, boil and break the surface behind the fly. As the fly desperately swim away from the fish, it will finial take it with a huge swirl or splash and race off with it.
As I work my way through the tiny pockets or larger pooled water, I sat the fly in the main current of my peripheral vision. Something huge and green rolled though the surface at the bottom of the run. The fly came flickering back across the lie when I experienced that supreme, magical moment that sets Murray cod fishing apart from all! Other cast, a great table of black, glossy water rose up behind the fly and suddenly the fly was snatched from the fly line. Even before I could react, the rod buckled over wildly in my hands. An impossible bow-wave ploughed through the water and the frame of a truly huge cod rocketing though the water resorting back to his dungeon. I felt a mixture of fear and adrenaline though my whole body. WOW! The hair not just on the back of the neck stand up, but the whole body is covered with goose bumps.
Alone in the darkness, I scooted along the bank retrieving the backing quickly as possible, I stared down at the water to my amazement a huge flank flashed by and a unstoppable cod bolted home bound again. Minutes passed with every second counting my mind began to fill with what ifs thoughts, was my knots right will the leader hold and Arrrh! The head shakes will it spit the hook, so many questions for myself, but keeping it calm at the same time. Finally success the fish was landed a senesce of relief and a fight that seem to last a life time was over. Photos taken and without them it would feel very much like a dream, even tho its dreams like this that wake you of the night!
I figured that the action was going to be thick and fast, I tracked down to the next pool with a immediately a response. Despite a number of swirls behind the fly over a couple of cast, I persisted and paused the fly waiting for the weight on my rod. I continue to cast and had no other inquiries! As you know casting at night you have to have your wits about yourself and I stopped to think where did this fish go? Well after looking around I noticed a semi submerged structure to my right that I could just see with the moon light. Out bound cast past the log 1 or 2 meters as I didn’t want to spook the fish; as I retrieved and slowly twitched the fly right over the snag BOOF game on and cod. My hart went up to 180 beats a minute and with a great battle with short blistering runs I come out with a Murray cod looking at me saying you basted. I netted him and let out you beauty to put it nicely! Fishing partner bolted over to see a horse of a fish just kicking back in the net contemplating defeat. Up with the big fella a few photos; and can I say it is a little difficult to produce good photos at night but I’m working on it, once a few shots had been taken back in to the cold depths’ the fish went. Persistence does pay off and always think outside the square if your fishing techniques don’t work try something different.
Being in the right state of mind for casting – You need to relax not rush the cast, which sounds ridiculous I know, so you really need to calm yourself down and breath! Cast accurately at structure and bully these fish from their haunts. If you don’t; you’ll land lesser fish if any; be prepared at all times. It maybe needs to strip strike and if so, do it as hard as you possibly can and set the hooks.
Takes from a large cod are easily missed due to a sudden strike; instead fill the weight then strike. Tackle selection can be trial and error, rods break; fly lines get raped and knots will fail and rise anglers frustrations to the max! A selected range of fly rods 8# – 9# and 10# weights load with the correct fly line may it be; floating, intermediate or fast sinking. A shooting weight forward head will assist you to haul out those huge flies.
Hook setting is manifested by hand with little control strip striking. This may not permanently set the hooks, but pulling the rod butt towards the body and lift the rod tip high to ensure the best hook up. Hooking up or setting the hooks? Hook up is when the fish has done the job for you and he or she has hit the fly that aggrievedly and the fish has pieced the skin on the outside of itself or has in hailed the fly, there isn’t much more to do then fight the fish. Setting the hooks on the other hand is lifting the rod tip at the correct time to hook the fish. Feeling for the weight of the fish you strike by lifting the rod while crossing the fingers that the fish didn’t spit the fly. If the cod doesn’t stay connected take the slack up and start retrieving the fly slow it may entice another quick attack and continue to work the fly right to the rod tip and belt out another cast in the same direction. I tenuto repeat cast after a exposition up to 6 to 10 times, if no inquires I will move on but do remember on the way back to give yourself one last crack.
While walking the banks night or day I carry a light weight back pack, its contains – camera, fly box, pliers, leaders, water, torch a measuring mat and my landing net that I have clipped to the back of the back pack for easy access. It seems a lot and you would have thought and that it be heavy; keeping a small arranges of surface flies is all you need and the essentials’. Walking distance and the amount of casting you do will verily on each trip, be prepared for any conditions you many come across. Even a small first Aid kit is handy you never know what may happen while out and about, accidents’ are known to Accor. Also so keep your mobile phone in a water tight case along with the camera the last thing you don’t need is your perishes shot gone and if the uninspected does happen you can make an emergency phone call. Remember to let someone know where you’re going for the night; so if there is any trouble while out the right authority can start searching in the right spot!
Once hooked in to these fish and wait to be well rewarded you’ll soon realise what all the fuss about is! Epic fights – blistering short runs with incredible and dramatic power. The hook set your silence is no longer an explosion is astonishing as the fish powers away.