Mildura Fishing: The Murray River, A Locals Guide

How Long Is The Murray? | Choosing a good fishing spot | Gear & Tackle | Favourite Baits

For those that enjoy freshwater fishing, Mildura makes a perfect base. The Murray river is one of the best places to catch a trophy sized cod, and nowhere gives you a better chance at that, than the Mildura region.

I don't own a boat - I have never fished in the Murray from a boat, so I'm not the best person to tell you where or how to go about it. So on these fishing pages I will write about what I know... fishing from the banks of the river. You might not hook the biggest of the trophy Murray Cod this way, but it's an easier, cheaper and dare I say more relaxing way of wetting a line? And you can still catch plenty of good sized fish.

I already know this stuff... just show me the best fishing spots.

Large Murray Cod, caught near Mildura
Large Murray Cod, caught trolling a lure near Mildura

But while the cod might be the most sought after species, there are plenty of other fish in the river. Carp, of course, and far too many of them. But also golden perch, silver perch, and a few redfins. I'm told there are some catfish as well, although I am yet to catch one.

The Murray is NOT the 3rd Longest River In The World!

An example of incorrect information for fishermen

While browsing around the interwebs, I saw a website that claimed (incorrectly) that the Murray is the 3rd longest river. In fact, at roughly 2,500km it doesn't even make the top ten. I think they meant it is the 3rd longest navigable river. That same website also said that you need a Victorian fishing licence to fish in the Murray. Not true.

Let's be clear about this... the Murray river is part of NSW (until it passes into South Australia) , and as such, a NSW fishing licence is required. Even when fishing from the Victorian side of the river. An annual licence is around the $35 mark, though you can get a 3 day licence for as little as $7. See the full list of fees on this website.

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Choosing A Good Fishing Spot

What makes a good spot, if you are fishing from the bank? Not all areas of the river are created equal... some produce fish every visit, others look like they should, but never do. I have fished at many of the more easily accessible spots over the past few years, and the good ones all have a few things in common.

Steeper Bank: When there is a steep bank to get down to the river level, that often means that the water depth also drops away sharply. While you can catch fish in the shallower portions of the river, they will tend to be carp. So, steep bank is good, shallow flat bank, not quite so good.

Right Side Of The River: I have fished both sides of the river, many times, and the Victorian side generally seems to produce better catches. In the Mildura area, the river channel runs along the Victorian side of the river, or so I'm told. I would assume deeper water on this side is a contributing factor to the better fishing.

Shadows And Shade: Fish just don't bite well during the heat of the day. And if the sun is shining directly on the water, then the occasional small carp will be about as much as you will catch... if anything. Early mornings and late evenings tend to be the best time for fishing.

As the sun is starting to set, having the sun behind you, so the trees give some shade to the water, will generally provide the best fishing. Conversely, in the early morning try to find a portion of the river that is flowing roughly north-south, so you have the sun at your back. That way the surrounding trees will keep the sun off the water.

Snags: The more snaggy the area, the better the fishing. It's as simple as that. Murray Cod and yellow bellies like snags, you won't find them in flat shallow areas. An old fallen tree in the river close to where you're fishing is always good. One above and below you? Even better. In the best spots, you will probably be snagging and losing gear now and then.

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Suitable Tackle For Murray River Fishing

Rods & Reels: Let's not get carried away with fancy rods... almost anything willl do. My wife's mother used to catch big Murray cod using a handline. I have a cheap rod/reel set that has caught it's fair share of fish. So whatever you have is usually good enough, IMO. Except for that time you hook a BIG cod. That is when you wish you hadn't been so tight when you were buying that $30 combo set at Kmart (voice of experience).

The trouble with the cheaper rod/reel packages, is that they generally don't have high quality line. I can tell you from experience that 6kg breaking strain nylon just doesn't cut it with a decent sized cod on the end that wants to get back to his snag.

I suggest 10-12kg main line or braid, with slightly less than that to use as a trace. I dont like to use anything stronger than that... I want to be able to take a few wraps of line around my hand and break off when I get snagged.

Hooks & Weights: When I first started fishing the Murray, it was totally new to me. I was used to fly fishing the rivers and streams of NZ, and big water like the Murray was slightly intimidating. How on earth to go about finding the fish?

It took me a while to find an ideal combination of hook and weight size. I started off using 4/0 hooks, and while those might be fine for a big cod, they are far too large for 90% of the fish you're going to catch.

I have settled on using a range of sizes with something like a size 2-6 circle or octopus being the most useful when bait fishing with shrimp or worms. Small enough to catch the smaller mouthed carp and perch, but will do for cod (at a pinch). If I was targeting cod specifically using a live yabbie, then a bigger 1/0 - 2/0

I carry a range of weights, all ball shaped so I can thread the line through rather than tying it on. I try to use the minumum weight that I can get away with. Usualy around 1oz is enough, unless the water level is high with a stronger current.

My Favourite Baits For Murray River Fishing

I have tried everything you can possibly think of, and maybe a few baits you can't. I have settled on a few things that tend to work well for me, so here's my list of the best baits to use fishing the Murray. In no particular order.

Show me the best fishing spots around Mildura.

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