Gone fishing with Craig Harris

MAGIC METRE: Wayne Lennon with a decent metre cod caught at Mulwala. Email your pictures to craig@waggamarine.com.au. Picture: Contributed
MAGIC METRE: Wayne Lennon with a decent metre cod caught at Mulwala. Email your pictures to craig@waggamarine.com.au. Picture: Contributed

SITTING here, listening to a bit of blues by John Maher, thinking what am I going to write about, and I remembered an email I received from local lure manufacturer Wayne Lennon, regarding breaking his 65-year hoodoo on a Murray Cod over the metre.

For those of you in the 100-plus club, I know how much time on the water it takes to catch one - I have been trying for 54 years and I am still yet to crack it, maybe this year.

Anyway back to Wayne’s fish. It was caught at Mulwala a couple of weeks ago, and even though it was his first metery, he didn’t take it out of the water.

He measured it in the water in the net as he didn’t want to stress the fish anymore than was necessary because as I have said before, these big fish are sooks, and give up the ghost pretty easily when stressed.

The easiest way to tell if a cod is stressed is by the colour. If it has gone paler than what it was when first raised to the boat, or it has red on it, it is stressed.

It will take a long time for that stress to reduce, whether that be by you “swimming” the fish to get it back to what we perceive as normal or just releasing it straight away – it will swim away but give up an hour or two later.

I have often said that if I am lucky enough to catch a metery, even with the adrenaline flowing, I don’t think I will get it out of the water; I would prefer to get into the water with it if close to shore or do as Wayne did. I am not saying there is anything wrong with getting the fish out of the water and returning it as soon as possible after a couple of happy snaps, I am just saying I don’t think I will.

In South Australia it is against regulations to actually remove the fish from the water.


  • 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 past the gills.
  • Once the hook is removed, gently release the fish back into the river.

So while it is not against regulations to remove Mr or Mrs Cod from the water in NSW, just be careful and vigilant if you do.

You know it’s actually interesting to see how things have changed with big cod. When I was a youngen, you would go into any country pub and the only way you would know if a big fish was caught was by seeing a head on the wall and on that trophy there would be the name or names of the blokes who caught it, bait used and the weight or photos of fishermen with dead fish hanging from a tree line.

While this was not against the rules back then, you would be hard-pressed to see anything like this anymore in any country pub.

Now with things like social media, history is diminishing. Fishermen put pictures of correctly cradled fish or releasing a fish on the web and within a week it is pretty much forgotten about.

How things have changed ... not saying it’s a bad thing, history is what makes us change.

This story A stress-free Mr Cod a fisher’s responsibility first appeared on The Daily Advertiser.