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Out Of The Dark - Cod On Surface Lures.

11 Feb 2013 10:23 PM - Chasing Murray cod on surface lures is one of the most explosive ways to target this species. Here Chris Baty outlines some of the things that'll help you on your way to your first surface strike.

It's late afternoon, the temperature's up, the barometer on the rise. Kookaburras laugh in the trees above and roos jumped across the track on your walk down to the river. This is fishing Australian rivers, this is a big part of why we do it..........but it's not the best part.

You've made a cast just like the 100 before it, close to the snag on the far bank, close enough to land in the shadows that fan out across the water. The reel is clicked into gear and just as the lure pushes the first wake of water there's an explosion around it, mottled green and yellow replaces the dark blob of the lure while line snaps tight and the rod jerks in your grip.

This is surface lure fishing for Murray Cod, this single moment in time is really what it's all about, this is why you're out here.

If you've never done this kind of fishing before prepare to be converted. Even if you already know the joy of fishing in Australia's outback and feeling that surging first run of a Murray Cod as it lunges back into it home snag you won't be ready for the jolt of adrenalin as your lure is blasted off the top.

My first experience with catching Cod off the surface wasn't chasing Murray Cod. It was years ago on the Mann and Nymboida rivers with Rob Lockwood chasing Eastern Cod. Rob was a pioneer of this kind of fishing and I can still remember the first time I tied on a large Jointed Jitterbug and had it demolished off the top. Heart pounding, knees shaking, all my senses wired at the sound of it. I didn't hook that fish and it would be quite some time before I ever did.

Weapons Of Choice.

For many years the only real option for a large surface lure suitable to consistently draw strikes from cod was the Arbogast Jitterbug and to this day this style of lure is style preferred by most avid cod anglers. The Jointed 5/8oz and Magnum 1oz were the lure of choice back in the day although these days we are spoilt for choice.

The Jitterbugs are still available but along with these we can choose from the Koolabung Codwalkers, Kingfisher Mantis, Moose Swallow, Codseeker Surface and Nutterjuck Walker. These lures are all of the surface paddler style with a reversed bib that makes the lure stay on the surface and shuffle along with an enticing gurgle. There are also an array of other styles of surface lures that include fizzers, poppers and buzz baits.

When To Go

I'm a firm believer that you simply go whenever life allows. These days for most of us we really can't be picky about when we take the time to fish. If you can get away just do it. Time on the water is never wasted and you're always in with a chance as long as you have a lure out there.

But for those that do have the luxury of choosing when they fish here's a few pointers. Early morning, late afternoon and into the night are generally the best times of day. It could be the lack of bright lights but most likely it's increased activity of cod food up and around the surface that makes this prime time to get surface hit. That said you can still draw surface strikes right through the day but generally the fish will sit deeper in structure and further back in the shadows than in lower light conditions.

Moon phase is another tricky one. It's believed that cod (as with other native fish) are more likely to feed off the top on the new (dark) moon. With the cover of darkness they stray further from cover. That being said a lot of anglers find it difficult to fish in these conditions and actually do better on the full moon when they can better judge what is going on around them.  Cod can be caught right throughout the year and while most anglers associate the warmer months with better fishing some of the biggest cod get caught during the cooler months when there is less fishing pressure on them. While there is not as much food around on the surface during the cooler months there.

Barometer is another tricky one but if I had my pick it would be on the rise for this kind of fishing. Give me a calm, warm, muggy evening around a new moon with a rising barometer and I'm a very happy bloke. I've heard of cod taking surface lures at all times of the year, at any time of the day, on all moon phases so again if you can go then go.

Tackling Up.

This kind of fishing for me is all about bait casters. Tight to cover casts and the ability to drop the thumb on the spool to pull up a rampaging fish on that first bulldogging run mean bait casters rule the roost. But that does not mean you can't use a spin outfit and many do.

Most of the fish you will come across will range in size from 2.5kg to 7kg and for this you can get away with a rod that will handle 7kg to 10kg line. Braid is definitely an advantage with this form of fishing, as it is with most lure fishing situations. Add a rod length of 10kg to 15kg leader and you're good to go. If you're targeting bigger fish then you may want to step up to 15kg braid and a 20kg leader.

 

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