40 million years ago a new valley was formed and Australia's greatest river was first formed at the summit of Mount Kosciusko. Right from those first few drops that pushed out of the ground and smashed the surface, this massive liquid machine started to bring life as it charged across the landscape.
For 2,500 kms The Murray River pushed its way to the ocean, making it the third largest catchment area on earth. The aboriginal people walked along it 40,000 years ago, and since then the river has gone through several changes and in the 1800's, it turned into a virtual highway as paddle steamers used the river to move product. With technology came more changes and 15 navigable locks and 4 dams were introduced into the river to control flow and to provide water to over a million households.
This river is clocked in history and as a boy I heard stories of the mighty Murray cod, a massive fresh water fish making this majestic river its home for millions of years. Most townships along the river banks have their own accounts of how they got to know of these mystical beasts, stories of farmers using tractors to try and extract these huge fish, dogs and even people disappearing into the river. This fish had the rule of the river.
It wasn’t until the 1800s when the Great Depression hit, the the Murray cod became a main food source and was fished to such a point that they banned the fishing in a move towards protecting the dinosaurs of the river.
Since I read about this amazing fish for the first time, I had always wanted to go and chase down this most historic of all the big fresh water fish. They can grow to 6ft long and over 100 kilos, and they make their home in the massive log jams made from the giant eucalyptus trees that let loose and crash into the river. It is a fish of history, and one I have tried for years to catch.
Trying to catch a living fossil that doesn't feed unless all the stars are aligned and you happen to find yourself in the right place at the right time isn't going to be easy and easy it wasn't. It took four trips to Australia chasing down these incredible fish until I managed to touch down when the river was at the right level and the right flow and the fish had come on the feed. With days of casting and many a night tucked up in my swag around the open fire this trip was the one to remember. Finally all the hard work had paid off, I had earnt my strips and finished my apprenticeship, and over the next 5 days I had 2 takes out of millions of casts producing 2 amazing fish. That first fish smashed the lure out of the blue and railed me hard on its first run; I was into my third day of casting without even a take, when that fish ripped me out of my casting trance.
To see that fish come to the surface and finally for-come to the net was a proud moment, something I have dreamt of happening over many moons, a fish well earned with years of trying under the belt. I finally had a fish of history in my arms. I would have to say catching Murray cod isn't just about the fish, it’s the people, the history of the river, the every changing environment from Hugh towering cliffs, to large stretchers of river shaded by hundreds of year old gums, with all sorts of crazy creatures that come to the valley for its constant supply of food. The Murray River is just the most incredible place. With all fishing knowledge was what was required to catch this fish and I have had the privilege to fish along one of the best Cod fishermen in the country Lubin Pfeiffer (Cod God) he has managed to catch more massive Cod than most and even last week he smashed another monster.
Thank you Lubin for an amazing experience and one that will stay with me forever. This fish is a combined total of many things, and that's why the Murray Cod would have to have been my most rewarding fish to finally catch and then watch as it charged of back to its snag to continue its life as the king of the river.
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