SO you have a fishing rod in hand, a bucket by your foot and you’re ready to toss a big hook, line and sinker into the deep of the mighty Murray River …
Well let’s hold your horses for a second. For starters, get rid of your bucket (see photo). If you didn’t know already, historically Murray Cod have been known to reach sizes of up to 400 pounds, which is about 180 kilograms. However, you’re unlikely to see a cod fish of this sort of mammoth proportions these days, but then again the truth is out there. And there still may well be a “Cyril the wise old Codfish” lurking in the deep!
The Murray River has many great spots to throw in a line around Echuca and nearby. Upstream, heading northeast, the Murray races and narrows, where the fish wait for food to come to their homes near rocks and shrub. Downstream, towards Torrumbarry, the river widens and deepens so cast deep, where fish are likely to be lurking.
Have a look at these Big 5 and see how you go …
Murray Cod are indigenous to Australia and bloody delicious! A beautiful succulent texture. Here’s a tip – the bigger ones don’t taste as good, but regardless, new regulations mean you can only take one per day and the size permitted is 55cm to 75cm. Catching them can be trick, making them even more of a prized catch. They can be caught on bait but going for them on a lure is much more fun and allows you to cover more ground in your mission to land one. Keep on the move, casting big lures into likely spots and go for a slow rolling retrieve which makes sure the lure is close to the bottom. Angling them is challenging but generally fisherman around the traps are landing them on yabbies, worm, barde grubs
Yellowbelly (Golden Perch)
Yellowbelly – also known as Callop or Golden Perch – are usually bottom feeding fish found in fresh water rivers and some will tell you they’re even better tasting than Cod. Make sure you wash and clean just after pulling them onto the houseboat keeping quality in refrigerated conditions is perfect. Golden perch are medium-sized fish, about 30cm and 1 to 2kg in size. They say best baits for these beauties are yabbies or shrimp, otherwise deeper running lures can do the trick.
Redfin (European Perch)
These little beauties have been around for over 100 years since they were introduced into our river systems and the Redfin, or European Perch, is one of the most desired fish for keen anglers. It doesn’t usually get much bigger than 2kg or 3kg, is a lean clean beautiful fish to eat and is reasonably abundant in the Murray around Echuca-Moama. They are easy to catch, prepare and taste as good if not better than a gummy shark. Some locals will tell you the best way to catch them are on a lure and off a sand bank area of the Murray or weed beds, but you can still catch them on worm casually angling off a houseboat near the banks.
Take note: this one is a protected species, so must be released after catching! The Catfish is found in all areas of the Murray River and when flowing fast the Catfish sneak into the creeks, billabongs, backwater areas and usually become land locked when the river drops back down. These particular trapped Catfish can grow to enormous sizes as usually their new environment means they’re not fighting for food with other species.
Also known as Murray Freshwater Spiny Crayfish, if you decide to head off on a winter adventure on a Dinky-Di houseboat (or all the months without the letter ‘r’), the chances are you’ll be in prime position to land some of these “freshwater lobsters of the Murray”. No, they are not yabbies as many make the mistake – these guys are much bigger, meatier and to-die-for on the dinner plate. How do you catch them? It’s pretty ordinary, so if you have a weak stomach look away now. The smellier the bait, the better, they say, and sheep’s heads or off fish or meat tied into the middle of a cray pot (special net to catch them) is ideal. pop them in a spot with rope and an empty milk container so you know where it is and check every hour or so. Believe us when we say there is nothing quite like throwing these rippers into a boiling pot and eating fresh. Mix together a little bit of tomato sauce with mayo and a little bit of lemon juice and you’ll thank us.