My first cod trip to north-east Victoria a couple of weeks back was very much dipping my toe in cod water, so to speak. No commitments to keep, no expectations, nothing to prove and some fine trout fishing as back-up if needed.
This weekend’s trip was different. On the back of the remarkable and truly unexpected success of my first river cod foray, I could no longer shrug my shoulders and think, ‘If it works it works, if not…’ And I had a long-time fishing mate with me, Andrew, who hadn’t fished for cod in trout stream-style water before. I was excited to be tackling cod again, but also a little apprehensive. What if I’d simply fluked perfect cod conditions the first time (whatever they are!) and now we’d find the cod reverting to their famously fickle state? When we spotted a four-leaf clover as soon as we pulled up by the river, I silently thought, ‘Good; I need all the help I can get.’
Once again, the Ovens and King rivers were our focus, and this time Myrtleford seemed like a sensible base. However, with less than two days to fish, we decided that chasing trout as well as cod would spread our effort too thin. (We subsequently discovered that Andrew had brought his trout rod, but forgotten his trout reel, which made the decision to focus on cod pretty final!)
The first day was hot and sunny. The rivers looked perfect and when we found a stretch of water with plenty of deep-ish pockets and lots of snags and shady nooks, I immediately felt confident. I missed a small cod early which lunged at the fly just as I lifted it out of a foamy eddy. However, Andrew and I then fished a lot of idyllic-looking water for no result. Fortunately, it was Andrew who was first to hook up properly at the top of a sunlit rapid. He cast the fly against a log lining the fastwater, and from fifty metres downstream, I saw the explosion as the cod hit mid-stream. With that fish landed, I breathed a sigh of relief. Yes, this wade flyfishing for cod does indeed work.
The rest of Saturday afternoon and Sunday were a mixed experience for me. In contrast to the first trip, I missed quite a few takes and even experienced the dubious honour of my first cod bust-off, when a fish of unknown size (so let’s say huge) got back into its redgum home before I could turn it. We still landed several cod between us, but again, in contrast to last time, I felt I could have (should have?) done better. Seems I’m getting greedy already.
Anyway, here are a few notes to add to what will undoubtedly be a list that grows longer every trip:
- You can certainly catch cod in bright sunshine, but cloudy days and shade seem better and yes, like trout and just about any other fish, they love evening.
- I think I often retrieved the fly too quickly and this trip I had a number of takes when the fly was basically stationary. Patience, grasshopper.
- Put the fly as far into cover as you dare – mere inches can sometimes make the difference between a take and no take.
- Getting the fly down a few feet seems to help in daylight – we used clear sink tip lines to help (in this case Rio Outbound Short) as well as weight in the fly.
Footnote: Coincidentally, while were up there, friend Pat had his first crack at wade fishing for cod on fly on the lower Ovens with his girlfriend. On Saturday afternoon, he reported that she had hooked a cod with a tail the size of both his hands, which then snapped her fly rod. As if I needed any further incentive to keep at it!