Going Soft On Murray Cod

It’s a true fact of angling that it’s often difficult to deviate the path of success and so it is we trudge the safety of what is we know.  For most of us fishing is about catching and the success and fulfilment that comes of knowing that you have managed to outsmart your chosen quarry?

For this reason many of us hold fast to our tried techniques and therefor struggle to progress forward in angling terms. Not that you are expected to be the angling scholar but have you ever wondered why some fishos seem to be able to catch from a puddle while other might starve under aquarium like opportunity. There is nothing new about soft plastic lures in fishing other than an ever growing array of different makes and models. Soft plastics have been around for years and are an effective lure on almost any fish species you care to imagine. Redfin will pounce on a soft plastic in a manner more befitting a sea gull on a hot chip. Bream, flathead, and barramundi will readily line up to eat these lures yet for some reason soft plastics have been really slow to infiltrate our native fishery.

Strikes on the drop usually resulted in deep set hooks.


Lure Recognition

I know of anglers fishing some of the northern impoundments who readily use soft plastics to target large golden perch. They will search out standing trees hidden in the depths on their sounder all the time looking for one that holds fish. Looking similar to a Christmas tree covered in lights the fish are easy to see and the plastic is delivered over the side and fished in a tea-bag fashion as it is lifted and dropped in the fishes face. A deadly method on schooling perch that has few equals. A month or so before the close of the cod season we fished a stretch of river hard hit to the point that the resident population of green fish had a degree in lure recognition. Almost all lures have a signature sound be it a load rattle or dull thud they emit some noise that if heard often enough, will pre- warn fish of pending danger.

Rig It Light

The angling edge at such locations comes with leaving the comfort zone and trying something different, in this case, soft plastics. Rigged on a lightly weighted weedless hook the paddling plastic grub swam silent and unobtrusive amongst the snags. With the hook point hidden just inside the plastic, the rig could be cast and retrieved through either heavy weed or timber without becoming fowled or snagged. It doesn’t get much more natural than that and within minutes the first rod jarring strike from a sizable Murray cod was proof enough that the soft plastic option was something the fish were not used to.

Always Learning

While the hook had failed to take root it was a good sign and for the next hour or so cast after cast ventured every conceivable cod haunt along the river’s course. At the end of one particular hole a bottle neck of weed lined banks looked the perfect ambush spot for a crafty green fish yet several casts failed to tempt a strike. It was nearing dark as one last cast along the weed line was allowed to find depth before the plastic was kicked into gear with a few sharp flicks of the rod tip. A few more flicks a short wind and then pause allowing the plastic to once more find depth.

Even smaller cod will smash the larger soft plastic grubs.


Hello Old Friend

A few feet down the unmistakable strike from a cod transmitted up the braid as the plastic was inhaled on the drop. This time the rod loaded to the cork as a sizable cod made a quick run out of the weed bed and back into the deeper safety of the pool. With few snags to negotiate the cod was easily led to the net and at almost a metre in length a great catch regardless the method. Not a bad way to open the Murray cod on soft plastic account. It was interesting to note that over the course of the afternoon we tried several different paddle styled plastics that all looked quite similar but swam completely different. It seemed a soft styled plastic worked best creating maximum swimming action at minimal speed. Coupled on a Bassman weedless 7gm 5/0 hook a slow sink rate with enticing tail action was achievable greatly increasing the strikes. We were limited to plastic styles as availability out here in the bush is almost non-existent. Several larger models that looked the goods were indicative of what I have seen in the past with larger plastic designs. Large plastics generally come pre-rigged with upsized weights that generally create a house brick dive on the drop.
A ripper cod landed on a soft plastic fish imitation at Copeton Dam.

A ripper cod landed on a soft plastic fish imitation at Copeton Dam.

The Need For Speed

Maximum action is achieved at speed. What we have found is while larger plastics would be ideal for targeting big Murray cod in order for them to swim properly speed and weight become major issues. No doubt in the world of plastics there are numerous models that would suit this style of fishing it’s just a matter of sourcing them.   Next morning we started the day off well with another good sized cod that once again inhaled the plastic on the drop. This cod had two cracks at the plastic before it got pinned in the back of the throat. Whereas most missed strikes on hard styled lures in this waterway fail to return the follow up strike on the plastic was quick and hard.

Mildura angler Gareth Lynch with the first cod landed on a soft plastic lure.


Greedy Cod Versus SP

With a soft more life-like feel, this greedy cod was not alerted to the soft plastic as a threat. Several more fish followed over the morning session before we decided to blind cast a deep hole in a bend of the river. In five metres of water the plastics took time to find depth before a slow lift wind routine would see the plastics lift a few metres from the bottom before being allowed to freefall back to full depth. As I went to make the next cast I noted a solid snag on the sounder directly below the boat. Over the side and out of gear the plastic was allowed to freefall down amongst the sunken timber.


Once it had reached bottom a slow lift and drop routine had the plastic dancing the zone amongst the timber directly below the boat. Now the colloquial term for this style of fishing is tea bagging and while that has all the hall marks of something that sound very relaxing and calm it was at opposite ends to the spectrum of what unfolded next. Obviously my tea bag was of the white lighting variety as it had the kick of a mule as the rod snapped down and wrapped around the hull of the boat under the weight of one very large and angry green fish. It was over in seconds but they were the high octane moments that make fishing what it is. I re-rigged with shaky hands and wondered on the sheer power and violence of the take. More importantly my mind was clear of doubt and laid open to the possibilities that soft plastic on Murray cod provide.
Rod Mackenzie caught this sizable Murray cod just before dark on a lightly weighted soft plastic.

Rod Mackenzie caught this sizable Murray cod just before dark on a lightly weighted soft plastic.

Lost The Big One

By trips end we caught no less than four sizable cod on the plastics and got smoked by that unstoppable fish that took the plastic back home to its lair. While native fish anglers have been slow to grasp the use of soft plastics I feel sure this will change over the next few seasons. With an ever growing range of plastics and different jig heads to rig them on, the possibility are endless as are the opportunity’s to catch some very good fish.
Most trikes on the soft plastic were hooked firmly in the corner of the mouth.

Most trikes on the soft plastic were hooked firmly in the corner of the mouth.

Rod MacKenzie

About Rod MacKenzie

One of the most passionate anglers you will meet, Rod simply loves his fishing and is eager to share the wealth of knowledge and experience he has picked up over the years.

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