Fishing the Murray River

The best fishing tends to occur following an increase in flow during a time of stable flow. Most anglers' primary target species are Murray cod and golden perch (yellowbelly).

Carp, redfin, and Murray spiny crayfish were also caught. Murray cod, golden perch, trout cod, silver perch, freshwater catfish, bony bream, blackfish, carp, redfin, goldfish, western carp gudgeon, flat-headed gudgeon, Australian smelt, southern pygmy perch, Murray hardyhead, oriental weatherloach, and mosquitofish are all found in the river. There are three species of freshwater shrimp present, as well as yabbies.

A very quick overview of fishing prospects. Except for the part from Tocumwal to Barmah, vehicle access to the river is great. There are numerous boat ramps, however not all of them are concrete or rock-stabilized. Although bank fishing is doable and gratifying, the finest fishing is done from a boat, which gives you access to midwater snags and allows you to use trolled lures, which are particularly effective at catching Murray cod and golden perch.

What Is The Best Bait To Use In The Murray River?

Even little Murray cod and golden perch can be caught with quite large lures. Most lures are 'bibbed' at the front with a plastic plate, which causes the bait to dive and also offers a certain 'action.'

I have fished the Murray River my entire life and have used and tested numerous baits and lures. Although bardi grubs are historically regarded to be the greatest bait, yabbies, worms, and shrimp are also effective. Some anglers find that baits work best at greater flows when the water is discoloured, whereas lures work best when the water level decreases.

The purple lure owner believes in the lure's success and finds it tough to experiment with other colours. Every day on social media platforms, when asked what colour to use for Murray Cod, the overwhelming response is "Purple." Personally, I am not convinced, but you can test it for yourself and see what results you receive.

NOTE: The Murray River is all New South Wales water and NSW regulations apply. A NSW fishing licence is required when fishing in the river, even if the angler is standing on the Victorian bank.

Can I Catch Trout Cod?

Trout cod were originally few in the upper Murray River, but numbers are presently growing due to Ovens system releases. They are presently common between Yarrawonga and Tocumwal, surviving as one of Australia's only two self-sustaining populations. The other is a translocated population in Victoria's Seven Creeks. Most Murray River fish weigh 350-880 g, but fish weighing up to 5 kg have been caught. The Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act of 1999 designated trout cod as nationally endangered.

Trout cod possession is illegal, and any fish captured must be returned to the water alive. Anglers using bait should cut the trace above the hook and release the fish. Attempts to remove the hook may cause harm to the fish. Trout cod and Murray cod might be mistaken, hence the following distinct characteristics are presented to aid in their identification.

How Big Do Murray Cod Grow?

Murray cod typically range in size from 5-22kg, while fish as large as 113kg have been caught. Murray cod are still plentiful in the Murray River and quite easy to catch, albeit being less abundant than in previous years. Their prefered resting place is on the substrate among debris or snags (submerged timber/logs/branches), especially huge clusters of submerged detritus.

According to Department research, 80 percent of fish tracked with radio tracking devices were resting within one metre of garbage. The majority of resting places (74 percent) had debris covering more than half of the surface. Murray cod use these snags to protect themselves from high water velocity and to ambush their prey. Fish can be found in shallow regions with fast surface water flow if debris is present.

Murray cod were most often seen resting in water deeper than 2 metres, according to the Department. They have no preference for the deepest holes or pools, though. During strong flows, fish come closer to the banks and use submerged bank vegetation for protection from high water velocities, according to the Department. Murray cod are sedentary most of the year, although they travel upstream to spawn from around August to early November (depending on seasonal flow conditions). High flows or floods appear to be the cause of this migration.

The Department has tracked fish upstream from Lake Mulwala for up to 100 kilometres. After spawning in the rivers, all fish travel fast downstream, returning to the same place and even the same snag they had previously occupied.

Native Fish The Murray–Darling Basin

Native fish populations in the Basin have declined dramatically since European settlement, and they can now be found in fewer places. This is mostly due to habitat loss, habitat changes, barriers to fish movement across streams, and the influence of imported species.

There are more than 50 native fish species in the Murray–Darling Basin, with up to 20 using the estuary, ranging from tiny gudgeons and pygmy perch to the Murray cod, which may grow to be 1.8 metres long and weigh more than 100 kilogrammes. Among these species are:

  • Australian smelt
  • black bream
  • bony herring
  • congolli
  • freshwater catfish
  • golden perch
  • lamprey
  • Macquarie perch (threatened)
  • Murray cod (endangered)
  • Murray–Darling rainbowfish
  • Murray hardyhead
  • olive perchlet
  • silver perch (threatened)
  • spangled perch
  • purple-spotted gudgeon
  • trout cod (endangered).

Introduced Fish The Murray–Darling Basin

Fish introduced into rivers can have a harmful impact on the environment. Carp, for example, contribute to environmental deterioration by lowering water quality, destroying river banks, and perhaps causing algal blooms. Native fish populations are also harmed by introduced fish because they compete for resources and habitat.

Eleven imported fish species have been identified in the Basin. Some of these species were introduced for angling, while others were released into waterways after being housed in aquariums.

Introduced fish species include:

  • brown trout
  • carp
  • eastern gambusia
  • goldfish
  • oriental weatherloach
  • rainbow trout
  • redfin perch
  • roach
  • tilapia.

Did You Know This About The Murray River?

1. It is one of the world's longest navigable rivers.

The Murray River is Australia's longest river. It stretches for 2508 kilometres through New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. It is navigable for about 2000 kilometres, making it the third longest navigable river on the earth, trailing only the Amazon and Nile rivers.

2. It is a component of the Murray-Darling Basin.

The Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) covers more than one million square kilometres, accounting for 14% of Australia's total land area. The MDB produces 54% of Australia's apples and 95% of the country's oranges.

3. It delivers water to a large number of people.

Along its length, the Murray River supplies water to around 1.5 million households, as well as agriculture and other enterprises.

4. It even has its own flag.

While the flag's exact origins are unknown, it has been in use since the 1850s. Businesses and paddle steamers now use three different variants of the flag at various spots along the river.

5. It flooded heavily in the 1950s.

Heavy rains caused the Murray River to flood in 1956. It caused massive destruction across all three states and is still regarded as "South Australia's greatest disaster." Fortunately, no lives were lost.