REPORT: NSW Central West Murray cod opening 2016

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I COAXED the fire into action a good thirty minutes before first light. Another year, another cod opening and another father, son and friend camp out that we eagerly look forward to every year. With our cup of coffee done for now it was with an excited expectation that we made our way to the bank of the river as the sky just began to brighten.

The surface lures the boys hurled out across the pool now churned bubble trails across the still water. Jeremy was using an old Jitterbug, Gavin was using a Jackall Pompadour and I was using what should have been a lure collectors dream, a mint condition large size floppy set to shallow run.

The surface strikes started and turned into one of those sessions that sound too good to be true. A sheer mass of boofing fish were in front of us and Gav, who had until now never caught a cod on surface, had now caught and released numerous fish and kept mumbling incoherently about it being unbelievable fishing.

One of my mint conditioned Floppy’s had suffered a cracked bib and had the bung in the nose blown out after a savage take. I tied on Floppy number two in between calls from Jeremy and Gav of, “yep I’m on”. It wasn’t uncommon to catch several fish on successive casts.

Floppy number two landed on the water with a sound that is the best imitation of a boofing cod that I have ever heard. I think the sound of a rubber floppy hitting the water may have the same effect as what a hydro wave achieves or even the old trick of “boofing” the water with a pipe plunger to imitate the sound of feeding fish and stimulate the real fish into joining in the hot bite. A few cranks in and the pink Floppy had been eaten by another cod.

Keen to take advantage of such a hot bite I put down the bait casting outfit and picked up the fly rod I had brought along with me, tied to the leader was a Kaos cod flies big “Gurgler” surface fly. It was either the first or second cast and the gurgler was inhaled by another surface feeding cod. Excitedly Gav said that was the first cod he had seen caught on fly. Several casts later another cod inhaled the Gurgler right down into its mouth but thanks to the squashed barbs it was easy to remove.

The surface session lasted until about sun up, and with the brighter light and the promise of a very hot day it was now time to change to subsurface lures and follow the fish to the bottom. Jeremy tied on his battle scarred pink Oar-gee Plow, Gav moved across to a spinnerbait and I tied on one of the new Angel Baits from Insanity Tackle.

The fish were still eager to bite but now the action was taking place down deeper. Spinner baits were taken on the drop or cranked down deep, the Plow was cranked down deep and produced repeatedly. The Angel Baits were soliciting many strikes and takes and they are a unique bit of gear (see pic).

When things would begin to ease, it was a matter of changing lures and or colours and quite often first cast after such a change would result in a fish first cast, this happened again to me with my first cast of a Number One Stump Jumper. I think it was about 9.30am when a call was made for breakfast and we made our way back to camp for bacon and egg on toast washed down with another cup of coffee.

A count over breakfast and we worked out that we caught and released about 38 Murray cod. After breakfast Gav and Jeremy headed further upstream to target a few other holes for cod and cull a few carp before returning to the main hole for an afternoon session hoping for one of the bigger fish in the hole that had evaded our best attempts at capture.

I found myself walking downstream with flyrod in hand, and the bird chatter was only matched by the chatter of the stream. The runs between holes looked very fishy and the first run had a good boulder midstream with a dark shadow behind as well as slack water – a perfect cod lay. The fly was cast into the run, let swing to the side of the boulder and then worked back into the slack water behind. A cod smashed the fly and headed back into the shade, but the small fish was easily brought to the edge for a quick photo and release.

Next run down and the fast water slowed where it crashed into a rock wall. A shaded back eddy was the perfect place for a cod, and I let the big wet fly sink into the shade. On about the third strip the fly was taken with brute force and the 8wt loaded to the butt with another average but very fit fish.

The next hole down was a beauty and water again boiled around in a basin of rock before the flow was diminished and it spilled out in a slow flow over some deep rocks with dark shaded holes at their base. The fly landed at the corner of the basin and the slow flowing water where the current was slow enough that the fly could slowly sink into the black abyss. The chatter of the birds and the stream was now silent to me as I watched the fly sink with the current playing with the fur and feathers, and the sun providing plenty of flash as the fly danced in the slow moving water.

The fly was about one and a half metres down and just about lost from eyesight when I subconsciously locked the fly line a bit tighter to the cork grip with the index and middle fingers. As soon as the fly had completely disappeared the line went tight and another average fish bent the 8wt over again. This fish was duly landed and released and a second cast put out in the exact same manner. This time the fly made the bottom and on the second strip was taken by cod number two. Two from two on fly, it doesn’t get much better than that!

Returning to camp Jeremy and Gav had returned from their upstream walk with a sad tale about no cod and a few big carp. I left them to an afternoon session on the main hole before they had to leave for home Thursday evening ready for work Friday morning. I decided to head upstream to the small hole they had flogged and declared fishless.

Instead of fly I now chose a flick stick with a small Slap Walker bibless minnow liberally coated with S-Factor scent. It was about the fifth cast when another average cod smashed this very versatile lure. The next hole above was soupy from carp vacuuming the bottom. I fished the hole for cod or a golden but with no luck, I decided to try the slap walker on the biggest feeding carp I could see. As the slap walker was hopped across the face of the feeding carp it didn’t hesitate to leap forward and swallow the bibless minnow.

Heading back and Jeremy and Gav had another four fish before packing up and heading back home. I was lucky that I still had until Sunday free so I continued fishing different parts of the Central West, mainly with fly before meeting up with two “fly only” guys for a session lower down the river. By the time, Sunday evening arrived this last evening session has returned me another seven cod on fly. We headed off from the river about 7pm with the tally of fish caught and released reaching 50 fish for the weekend.

Many others were reporting catches of over fifty as well for the opening weekend. The best catch I heard was around ninety fish by a group of three over the Saturday and Sunday with a few metre plus fish thrown in and some silver and golden perch.

The start to the cod season has been brilliant and it's got me very excited as to what we are in store for over the coming months. Hang on tight I think it is going to be a very memorable season for many. Another flood now would probably bring a lot more golden perch up into the streams and fingers crossed the cod breeding season has been a spectacular success!

 

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