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Casting for cod in Mulwala's Margins. by Neil Slater

Some of the best freshwater lure casting in southern Australia can be had around the log-packed margins of Lake Mulwala located on the Murray River adjacent to the towns of Yarrawonga and Mulwala.
Where else can you cast lures around shallow snags and catch between five and seven fish up to 3.5 kg before 10 am!?

Mind you Mulwala's margins also have a lot of sub-50cm fish to contend with too. But what they lack in size, they make up in numbers - keeping you very busy as they throw themselves at your offerings.

Practice, practice, practice!
Each year I head up to Lake Mulwala and each year after a few days of wayward casting, I tell myself "Next year, I'll practice casting for a week before I come up here!"
This lack of casting skill was evident one February morning last year when fishing Mulwala with keen cod caster Gavan Moloney and writer Roger Dark. Being the gentleman he is, Roger often offers guests in his boat first cast at a snag. After my cast falls a good ½ meter from the snag, Roger lands a lure right on the money and one more than one occasion, has claimed the fish (I hate to admit that)!

Some days when the fish are half-hearted, it really shows in your catch rates if you can consistently put your lure within a few centimetres of a snag.
A good way to improve your casting accuracy is try and land your lure in a bucket at varying distances of around 10 - 20 meters in your back yard a few weeks before you go.
Maybe for this year's preparation, I'll put some time in with the bucket….

Casting Tackle
By far the most accurate casting is obtained when using a baitcaster and a pistol or trigger grip plug rod. If your cast is looking like overshooting your target, simply thumb the revolving spool lightly to slow its flight to the snag and it drops right on the money!
You can get by with conventional spinning tackle, but it is much harder to consistently cast with accuracy.
Bait casters are considerably more expensive than conventional spinning gear, but need not send you bankrupt. My first outfit consisted of an ABU 4601 and a Berkley IM7 plug casting rod and only relieved my wallet of about $250.
You can use monofilament line, but once you've used the braided lines, it's hard to go back to mono. Braided lines offer unequalled sensitivity when bumping your lures through the logs and offers near zero stretch when those cod make for the snags.
For added abrasion resistance, it's often a good idea to add a length of 20kg monofilament leader via an improved Albright or braid/leader knot. This also doubles as a shock absorber for those sudden and often violent hits.

Casting Lures
The list is almost endless! I find by sticking with lures that are made for cod right here in Australia, you can't go wrong. Most imported lures arrive equipped with hooks that (to quote Rob Meade); "an angry goldfish could straighten."
Good casting lures to start with include Knolls Native, Number 2 Stumpjumper, Oar Gee, Codgers, and spinnerbaits and don't forget the surface lures for those heart-stopping dusk casting sessions.


Handy Additives
Never, EVER go casting in Mulwala without a tackle retriever of some description. I can tell you, your heart sinks when your line parts on your favorite lure just after you've boated + released 3 or 4 fish on it for the morning.
You will always find a use for a decent set of pliers or multi-tool when casting. For catch and release anglers, crushing the hook barbs and quickly de-hooking fish will see the pliers busy on deck most of the morning.

Work the lure
As mentioned earlier, your best chance of fooling a few cod when casting the margins is get those lure in close to the logs. Some fish I have taken have been in less than 60 cm of water! The bigger fish that have graced our boat have come from large logs that are around 2m deep.
You've got to cast your lure without fear of loosing it. If you fear the snags, you will subconsciously try to avoid some of the best fish-holding areas in the lake.
Do that drag up! Remember, most of the snag-dwelling cod only have to travel about 1 meter to get back to their hole and snag your lure, so you've got to have reflexes like a cat.
Your retrieve should be varied in a way where you can increase and decrease your retrieval rate in short sharp burst to imitate a startled forage fish.
When using spinnerbaits, I've found the best method is to retrieve them as slow as possible but with a constant speed so the lure hangs in the strike zone for most of its journey.
Best spinnerbaits for this method are ones with 'Colorado' type blades on them. These are very broad and require minimal retrieval speed to spin.

The better fish you are likely to encounter will be in the order of 60cm and around 4-5kg while the average fish would be in the order of 40-50cm. The smaller fish are more likely to give your surface lures a scare during the dusk sessions, as they are considerably more aggressive.

First and last light is best, with the dusk often putting on a real fireworks show as far as casting surface lures and flies go.
By 10 or 11am things really slow down and we often head back for a nap, lunch or go for a troll in the deeper sections of the lake.

Where to stay
Accommodation is available at a number of locations around the lake from caravan parks to luxury lakeside apartments.
Some caravan parks have their own boat ramps and there are a number of other ramps located around the lake.
Maps of Mulwala are readily available through many fishing tackle outlets and are recommended for locating the many old riverbeds for safe transit amongst the standing timber.

A NSW Recreational Fishing Licence is required to fish at Lake Mulwala. You can purchase them online HERE.

Neil Slater

Related Topics:
Lake Mulwala Info Page including Lake Map
Water Level Link
Rules Regarding Rec Fishing at Lake Mulwala & Lake Hume

Purchase NSW Recreation Fishing Licence Online
Lake Mulwala Hotspots - Article by Ian Stead

2005 Cod Opening Classic Report - Neil Slater
2006 Cod Opening Classic Report - Neil Slater

Copyright© 2006 Neil Slater. Sweetwater Fishing Australia