A day chasing cod.

Nick working structure
Nick working structure

It was going to be a “late” start, we both wanted half an hours more sleep. I set the alarm for 3.30am. Despite the extra sleep, it was still a rude shock when the alarm went off. Coffee was brewed and I walked outside and hopped in the car. It was time to chase cod.

A two and a half hour drive and we arrived, it was a little later than would have been ideal, but the extra half hours sleep was worth it. We set up the rods, chose some flies and started walking and casting. Nick started sub-surface, I started working the top, hoping for some surface action. After a few hours, I too went sub-surface.

Over the next seven or so hours we worked every likely looking snag meticulously. Fishing slow and deep into structure. Its here that weed guards are an absolute must. Most casts involved bumping the fly over logs and sticks to work it through the most likely lies. Despite our efforts, the cod weren’t playing ball. We tried pretty much every fly in my cod box over the course of the day (related, I need to tie more cod flies).

Nick going above and beyond to work likely spots.
Nick going above and beyond to work likely spots.

We fished HARD. Between us we must have made at least 1000 casts. All we had to show for our efforts were three “bumps” between the two of us. There were half a dozen other maybes, but they might have been sticks or twigs. We couldn’t be sure. Three were fish. The tentative nature of the touches suggested the fish weren’t really on, the touches were half hearted to say the least. Next time I will make sure I have a few flies with stinger hooks attached for just this sort of scenario.

Cast, cast, cast, cast, cast. Repeat.
Cast, cast, cast, cast, cast. Repeat.

This time there would be no explosive connections where the rod suddenly violently buckles as the fly drifts down through the sticks. No heart attacking inducing surface BOOFS! Today we would go empty handed. The heart pumping addictive hits that make cod fishing so special would have to wait till next time.

Cod water, sadly the cod weren't playing ball.
Cod water, sadly the cod weren’t playing ball.

Sometime in the mid- afternoon we both agreed to call it. A few minutes earlier I’d seen a carp. Just as we made the decision to head home I saw another one. “Why not” I thought. I tied on a carp fly, directly onto my 20lb cod leader and made the cast. It rushed over and ate but I missed the hook set “F$%^” I thought. The fish was still there though, so I cast again with little hope I would be able to get it to eat. Carp don’t give you two chances. Much to my surprise, it rushed over and smashed the fly. Sometimes you get lucky. With 20lb leader, the fish was soon on the bank. Nick had made his way over now having noticed the commotion. Just as I landed the fish Nick piped up “Get down. There are three fish right in front of you.” I crouched down, unhooked the first fish and flicked the fly out “Yep, yep, strike”. BOO YA! Another one. Carp fishing isn’t meant to be like that.

Carp selfies are a thing right?
Carp selfies are a thing right?
A pair of little mudsuckers.
A pair of little mudsuckers.

Five minutes later I walked down to Nick who was casting to another fish. “I’m changing flies, have a shot at it if you want”. “You sure, it is your fish”. “Yeah man, go for it”. While Nick changed flies I made a few casts and ended up foul hooking it. Sorry Nick!!! It was foul hooked, so it doesn’t count, but it was still another carp removed from the waterway. A token effort to improve the river and help the mighty murray cod recover.

A slightly bigger version.
A slightly bigger version.
Carp water. Silted and degraded. For a lot of the day we were fishing river that was fenced off from stock. The difference between water that is fenced from stock and water that they have access to is all to stark. Given the state of the habitat, removing the three carp we did likely achieved little... Still.
Carp water. Silted and degraded. For a lot of the day we were fishing river that was fenced off from stock. The difference between water that is fenced from stock and water that they have access to is all to stark. Given the state of the habitat, removing the three carp we did likely achieved little… Still.

We commenced the long walk home, the disappointment somewhat dulled by a little success to finish the day. As we reached the car, I was already trying to figure out when I would next be able to get out and chase the mighty greenfish. I still have a lot to learn.

Cheers
Hamish

flickandflyjournal.com

Hamish Webb, Dan Firth, Graham Fifield and Lee Georgeson have been fishing the south-east Australian region since 1987. Since then they’ve become avid sportfishermen who are constantly looking for new ways to challenge themselves. They are all scientists and conservationists who are passionate about the long-term sustainability of the ecosystem in which they live. They promote understanding and appreciation of the complex socio-political, economic and environmental issues surrounding fish, fishing and fisheries, while never losing sight of the various motivations that keep them coming back. In English, that means they love all things fishing and have a damn good time on the water, and that’s all that really counts in the end!

5 thoughts on “A day chasing cod.

  • April 13, 2015 at 10:57 am
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    Too bad they were shut down. They’re brutal when they’re shut down. I’ve had terrible luck with shut-down cod on my last few trips.

    As for the joys of fly-fishing for (actively biting) cod in this little slopes/lowland river … just imagine what fly-fishing for feisty trout-cod in a fast-flowing, crystal clear, cobble-stone mountain river must have been like.

    We had this … once.

    Reply
    • April 13, 2015 at 11:17 am
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      They sure as hell don’t make things easy when they are shut down. We tried our guts out. Part of the fun of natives fishing though I think. You never quite know when all hell might break lose. It might be the first cast of the day or the 500th. And when things do come together (which hasn’t happened yet with the fly rod), BOY!

      I would love to chase trout cod in upland rivers. Hopefully one day.

      Cheers
      Hamish

      Reply
      • April 13, 2015 at 7:33 pm
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        Nice post Hamish. I particularly liked the photo of Nick casting in amongst the Eucalypts. Reminiscent of the early Australian impressionists…except that they would have actually caught fish! Lee

        Reply
        • April 14, 2015 at 10:07 am
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          Yes, indeed.

          But which painting?

          The Purple Loomis’ Transparent Might?

          Cast?

          Sharing the Runs?

          🙂

          Reply
      • April 14, 2015 at 10:04 am
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        Arrrh, it’s just tragic when they’re shut down.

        Actually, I did manage to catch a big cod once in these terrible conditions — I literally hit it in the head with a jigged sinking lure. A sleepy fumbling bite and a sleepy fight.

        So even when you do get them in these terrible conditions, they’re quite sluggish.

        Stilll beautiful though.

        Reply

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