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Cold water wonders

As the fog builds and the chill of winter hits the Murray River and it becomes a different place, it’s now time to pack the summer gear up and bring out the winter sticks and tricks.

As the cold moves in the water temp will drop quickly which in turn will slow down the feeding of the Golden Perch but encourage the mighty Murray Cod. Techniques will need changing, Lures will need mixing up and your yabbys and shrimps will start to become hard to find.

Golden Perch as the water cools down will move in the deeper holes where the water temp doesn’t change too much, they will school up and almost shut down for the winter snap, Golden Perch can still be caught over the winter and here are some techniques you can use to better your chances. 

Using your sounder 

Your sounder will be your best friend during the winter, I use my sounder to locate schools of Golden Perch which have started schooling up along the deeper cliffs of the Murray River. You want to try and find schools of Callop and focus on the school either casting deeper diver lures and retrieving them through the school or scattering casts around them.

Casting spinnerbaits and getting them to the depths the fish are sitting in and then slow roll them through the school can also be affective as the spinnerbait generally encourages a hit out of anger more so a hit to eat. An easier method of trolling lures at the depths the fish are holding in can be very effective, trolling back and forth until you can encourage one to take a bait or lure. Winter fishing can be frustrating when you can see fish on the sounder and they won’t take lures, this is where patients comes into play and the one who can persist will come out with the winners grin.

The Mighty Murray Cod will also start to show more during the cooler months and I like to make the most of this time and target these majestic monsters of the Murray.

I will break down the winter into 3 periods the first being “The Big Chill”, the 2nd being “The Cold Snap” and the last being “The Sun Is Rising”.


The first period “The Big Chill” is where the water drops in temp from the high 20’s down to the high teens, this will push the fish from their summer hides which are normally deeper holes, Timber or Cliffs into the shallower timber, rocky or muddy bank runs. Personally I think trolling is the most effective method during this period, The Murray Cod aren’t particularly aggressive during this chill and more so start to look for a feed, trolling will keep your lure in the strike zone for longer therefore increasing your chances of dragging the lure past the fish of a life time.

The 2nd period “The Cold Snap” is normally June & July where the fish are now ready for the breeding season which isn’t far away, the water temp has dropped down to its lowest point and normally sits somewhere around the 11-13’ mark. The fish have started to feed up and put on some condition, they also are now starting to become very aggressive and protective of their home. I highly recommend casting lures & spinnerbaits during this period, best areas to focus on are the in tight timber, muddy and rocky runs which are shallow anywhere from 1m-4m’s. Fish these areas like you would for Golden Perch getting the boat in tight to the bank and parallel casting along the bank through the structure. You can also do this from the bank and you don’t need a boat, you’ll fish the same method as you would out of the tub. Keep your casting tight to the structure or the bank repeat casts for 10-15 cast and move along slightly over lapping your casts each time. The hard part it to keep at it until you nail one and once you get one the bug will have set in and you’ll be back every chance you get.

The 3rd period “The Sun is Rising” is the period after the ban has lifted and the water has now started to warm right up, we’ve made it through the winter and spring and now at the start of the summer where I’d be moving my focus back to the deeper hole, cliffs and timber runs.  Bigger, deeper running lures & your bigger spinnerbaits will now be dusted off and be put back into circulation, the ban on trolling has lifted so it’s time to spend time dragging them around.


For those dedicated land based anglers don’t feel like you have less of a chance at hooking the big Murray Cod everyone dreams of. Areas like the Murray River between Blanchetown and Swan Reach can be accessed by foot and best to have a look on google earth to find the way in, one thing to keep in mind is majority of the Murray has crown land that runs 20ms off the bank and even though a farmers land may be in between the road and the River they can’t stop you from fishing the River. RECFISH SA have created a fishing map which shows you all the areas you can access, you can find this on their website and I encourage all of you to get on and have a look, it will grow your stash of fishing spots dramatically.

Although I don’t like to fish for Cod using bait because of survival rates after release it can be a very effective method, as I said Yabbies and Shrimp will become a lot harder to find but if you can get hold of a few bigger yabbies they will be gold. The old school bait that will never die is the Bardy Grub, these can be found through the forest in the Adelaide Hills and can also be a very effective bait for the Murray Cod. Running sinker rigs with the lightest sinker you can get away with are best used when fishing for Cod. Cast the baits in the same locations you would your lures as we know this is where they are at.

 I strong tip don’t leave that rod unattended it will disappear faster than you left it there.