Murray Cod Fishing Guide

Maccullochella peeli
Other names: Goodoo, ponde
Similar species: Eastern Freshwater cod, Mary River cod

More lure fishing hours per strike are expended in the pursuit of the Murray cod than any other sportfish. Yet nothing else with fins occupies a higher rung on the hit lists of the nation’s lurefishers. Concurrent with that effort is an amount of ink in the fishing media that is totally out of proportion with the numbers that are hooked, landed, boated, released or consumed. The Murray cod is a finned icon, that, ironically, has achieved such status through a growing scarcity. A positive side effect of the publicity has been the substantial growth and acceptance of a catch and release ethic.
One greenfish of my acquaintance has been caught four times.

The world’s second largest freshwater predator, the goodoo – an aboriginal name and now popular contemporary reference – was once to be found under every decent snag throughout the Murray Darling system. The folklore of the inland is littered with accounts of codfish – a 19th century reference – being captured in excess of a hundredweight: another reference of the times; 112 pounds. Sadly however, most of the heavyweights have been removed from the fishery, and natural recruitment has undergone a biological strangulation with the appropriation of the Murray/Darling system by irrigators. Hatchery bred stocks and closed seasons have been crucial in stabilising the slide.

In many ways the Murray cod is it’s own worst enemy. Territorial in the extreme, greenfish make a habit of occupying strategic locations that intelligent lure fishers have little trouble in identifying. Locations that stand out include the first decent cover – rocks and/or snags – at the head of river pools, and the rock faces in lakes and points associated with dropoffs and cover.

Waters containing such features have good goodoo potential in that they provide cover from which passing fish traffic can be ambushed. Where such spots are associated with shallows and weedbeds, anglers have a double-dip. Murray cod are highly nocturnal. As shadows lengthen and day becomes night, cod will leave the deep shade of daytime haunts and go on the prowl. Surface lures such as the RMGNightwalker, designed with cod in mind can provide heart-stopping action. When fishing relatively open water with the Nightwalker it will make an extremely natural and resounding “plop” if cast high and allowed to fall vertically to the water. The noise helps.

Likewise, the RMG Poltergeist was created to a specification built around the Murray cod. The mighty fish it has taken include some of the largest ever taken on a cast and retrieved lure, seventy plus pounders, you can be sure. The 80mm Poltergeist has a crash dive capability that quickly gets down to the cover at the five metre plus levels that cod habitually occupy. Having a bib that’s wider than the body gives it a “contact” capability with a good measure of snag proofing. Nothing a lure can do triggers a cod strike quite the same as when it ricochets off a rock or log. The high frequency Poltergeist action facilitates the contact principle better than the traditional cod lures and their slow sway.

Murray cod population dynamics have seen to it that the average sized fish is thesedays smaller than those of yesteryear. This brings into focus the role – much overlooked, I might add – of smaller lures. The 50mm Poltergeist in particular, has been responsible for many captures in mother lode waters like lakes Mulwala and Coolamunda. At it’s very best as a lightweight trolling lure, it will dig down to that “strike zone” five metre level. Razor sharp Mustad triple grip hooks make it a potent little big fish lure.

Murray cod and Halco, Australia’s biggest getting together.