Murray Cod

The Murray Cod is one of the largest native freshwater fish in Australia and can be found throughout the Murray-Darling Basin system.

In 2003, the Murray Cod was listed as a threatened species under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and fishing restrictions were put in place to protect stock.

The fishery was reopened in 2011 for limited catch and release season to help protect population numbers and allow the species to successfully regenerate.

The catch and release season takes place every year from January 1 to July 31 and gives the public the opportunity to enjoy fishing for this species. Once caught, to maximise its chances of remaining healthy, the fish must be unhooked and released back in to the water immediately.

The seasonal closure takes place during their breeding season, between 1 August and 31 December.

To boost population numbers, PIRSA, in collaboration with the Riverland community and RecFish SA, releases Cod fingerlings into the River Murray as part of the Murray Cod Stock Enhancement Program.

Handling methods

The Murray Cod is treasured by recreational fishers, and catching one can be a challenging and exhilarating experience.

PIRSA, in consultation with RecFish SA, has simplified the way that Murray Cod can be handled once hooked and ready to be released back into the water. These handling methods make it easier for fishers to unhook a Murray Cod, with minimum adverse impact on the fish.

Murray Cod are fragile, particularly the larger ones, and must be handled with extreme care and respect.

Once you have caught a Murray Cod:

  • Support the weight of the fish, lifting only its head from the water
  • Avoid handling the fins or gills
  • Carefully dislodge the hook using pliers, ensuring that the fish is not lifted out of the water past the gills
  • Once the hook is removed, gently release the fish back into the river.

View the handling methods in the following video:

When fishing for a Murray Cod, remember to:

  • avoid using light lines and playing the fish to exhaustion
  • use barbless hooks or barbless trebles on lures
  • use a knotless landing net to support the fish in the water
  • cut the line outside the mouth for deep hooked fish and don’t try to remove the hook
  • if using a fish grip, don’t hold the fish vertically in the water.

South Australia’s Murray Cod handling methods have been updated based on scientific data, current fisheries management practices and with input from recreational freshwater fishers. Note that each State has different Murray Cod handling laws. If fishing near or across the border, check with that State’s fisheries department for details.

Page Last Reviewed: 21 Dec 2017
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