To cod or not to cod?

In this post I wanted to ask the question (as much for myself as for anyone else): ‘to cod or not to cod?’ Part of this relates to my lack of success last season. It went something like this:

Around 15 predominantly topwater sessions totalling roughly 24 hours of cod-targeting. Most of this was spent on my local stretch of the ‘bidgee.

So, what did 15 topwater sessions produce? One 40cm cod landed, two boofs, a couple of swirls and a few follows. My disappointment was somewhat offset by catching my first monster cod (see ‘Codtroversy‘), but this was an accidental catch during closed season, so it doesn’t count.

My illegitimate cod
My illegitimate cod

However, this disappointment is only real if measured by the number of fish caught, or the amount of ‘action’. Some of the things I learnt were priceless, and that’s what made it such a good season. Here are a few lessons I learnt.

Go the extra mile

I always thought that when cod are ‘on’, they’re ‘on’, and it doesn’t matter where you are. If they are there, they will eat at certain times. While there is some truth in this, I’ve been convinced by the success of some of my buddies that going the extra mile and trying to find a stretch of river that isn’t fished very often definitely pays dividends.

Graz fishing a stretch of one of the local rivers
Graz fishing a stretch of one of the local rivers

Keep an eye on the weather

I started keeping a little spreadsheet over the season, recording locations, times, temperatures, clarity and air pressure. I found that a pattern started to emerge. Rising pressure, warm evenings, good water clarity (usually lower flows) were the recipes for cod success. But there are always outliers (as is always the case with all types of fishing) and you should never let the weather get in the way of a session.

IMAG0274

Change lures and techniques

It’s easy to get into the habit of casting the same lure around over and over again, but often a change seems to produce some action. One memorable session was when I’d been casting a cod whalloper around for an hour or two, and was just about to give up and head home. I decided to tie on a big black fizzer, and was reminiscing about fishing for barra in the top end by pretending I was indeed fishing for barra in the top end, and a hungry 70cm cod shot up in deep water and had a big swirl at the lure. I’d cast the whalloper numerous times in the right direction, so I figure that it must have been the violent rips and fizz that enticed it to have a go.

A couple of popular cod surface lures
A couple of popular cod surface lures

If you miss, persist

This was a lesson taught to me by a lovely chap I met on the river one evening, who, based on the phone photos he shared, evidently has a lot more success than me. He said that if you miss a fish on the surface, have a few more casts and see if it returns. If it doesn’t hit the surface lure again after 5 or 10 casts, go sub-surface. They will often still be excited and angry, and will keep on hitting anything that’s in their zone. Hamish enjoyed this experience here.

My one little legitimate surface cod from last season
My one little legitimate surface cod from last season

These are just a few of the key things I learnt over the season, all of which I’ll be putting into play this coming summer. Despite my lack of success, spending time on the river was great. I ate silly amounts of blackberries, saw some amazing wildlife (native and feral), saw some beautiful sunsets and got some great exercise.

The answer to my question? In cod we trust.

You see some really cool things while out fishing
You see some really cool things while out fishing
Hopefully I see some more of these this season
Hopefully I see some more of these this season

 

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!

4 thoughts on “To cod or not to cod?

  • September 1, 2015 at 9:30 am
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    Interesting thoughts.

    Unfortunately, the local stretch of river is now getting ABSOLUTELY flogged, because of “look-at-types” boasting on Facebook and chatboards, and publishing books telling all.

    The excess fishing pressure is really starting to show.

    People have forgotten, or else let their ego-needs obscure, the fact that cod spots have to kept secret or “the mob” will ruin them.

    I’d urge everybody to keep their damn mouths shut about where they encounter their cod, and stop the situation getting any worse.

    Admitedly, a lot of the extra fishing pressure is from well-meaning catch-and-release types. But not all of it.

    End result has been a fair few cod have been deliberately killed, a few have no doubt died because of poor handling (and possibly excessively long photo sessions) despite being released, and the surviving cod are generally bloody wary of lures now.

    C’est la view.

    • September 1, 2015 at 9:33 am
      Permalink

      Thanks to spell-check for the mangleation of “C’est la vie”

      • September 1, 2015 at 9:54 am
        Permalink

        And that should be “look-at-me!” types …

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