Brett Trueman with a 105cm Murray cod taken on a New England chatterbait.

River fishing before cod closure

IT’S been a little while since I’ve had to give thought to actual water safety on our local headwater streams. Unlike rivers, most think of these as large wide expanses of water and the use of small petrol boat motors or electric battery powered systems. This is not the case for systems in the southern downs and upper northern Murray Darling region of NSW and Queensland. river cod

River fishing means double paddles and, as is the case now, common sense – sight and water safety are your major thoughts at all times. The number one consideration is waterflow. Any flow over 400mm should be classed as quite dangerous for small craft fishing in upper river reaches.river cod

Life jacket time

I suggest the using the manual pull-cord types, not the ‘auto-inflating’ models. Auto-inflating models will go off in complicated situations, like under a log or shrub area.

River information

If you capsize, simply walk your craft up or downstream to shallow water when possible. So, now it’s time to use that cord line attached to the front or back of your craft to pull it along behind you. Lesson one – find out local information and listen to it.river cod

Most river systems have river gauge stations, which are stationed along the river most rivers – look them up, and anything over 350mL should be approached with caution  – find information for Sunwater Queensland here, and for Water NSW here.river cod

Tricks of the trade

Always try to fish your way upstream in the morning, pack lunch and goodies to munch and drink, and work up to your lunchtime, fishing to 1.30pm or so. This will give you ample time to do the return trip back to base working those locations where you had a ‘Terry Marshall “nearly”’. If you miss a short strike – five or six casts are more than enough – leave the location and return later.river cod

But before you do, take a mental note of the location for the trip back, and you can give it a work over before you leave. Big flows can make it difficult to cast to eddies or logs in tight quarters or small holes of water. In these situations, I love fishing just below rapids for cod.


I have two that I use. The Graham Tschirpig Special and the black poly chain and cement 13cm Boushie, white window nylon sash cord 6m long, roped to the craft. This is ample for everyday use.river cod


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