How To Fish For Murray Cod In Rivers

You may have heard the saying in fishing circles; ‘location, location, location’. For those of you who haven’t, it basically means that the location is extremely important in finding success. You need to be in the right location to find fish. Well what is the right location? It’s a very open question and that’s what I’m going to cover in this article.

I’ll be talking more about the specifics of different ‘locations’ or more accurately ‘structures’ when targeting Murray Cod. Not just that you need to be fishing ‘this spot’ in ‘this waterway’ but more so I’ll be talking about ways to help you analyse specific sections of water to help you figure out where the fish will be located. Once you know where the fish are hiding out and how to approach each piece of structure you’ll find more success on the water.

Where should I cast on the log?

Casting lures along outback Aussie rivers is becoming ever more popular. It’s a great way to consistently catch fish if you know where the fish are situated. Murray Cod love structure! They will hide tight up against the tangled timber in wait for food. These locations not only form the perfect home but they are vital for the cods feeding pattern. The structure aids as a prop in their ambush which keeps them hidden from their target.

You know that you need to target structure – but where exactly on the piece of timber are they hiding? This will help answer the question; ‘Where do I cast?’ 

There are 3 key features in snags that I look for:

Root Balls

They are the number one location to target when fishing for Murray cod and Golden perch. Many large to medium sized snags will consist of the main tree branch, limbs and a root ball. The reason in why we target the root ball is because when a snag falls on its side the tree roots hold the bottom end of the tree up off the bottom. This creates an arc underneath the snag right up against the root ball which makes for the perfect native home. It provides the fish with room between the river bed and the structure above them. If the snag was lying flat on the river bed then it wouldn’t hold as many fish.

Prime example of the root ball on large red gum logs!
The water is too low on this snag but it shows that hole that is created underneath the log
Another prime example of a large root ball on a log that would hold a big fish!

When targeting this feature on the snag majority of the time you want to be casting tight in against the top of the root ball. One other tip; ensure to repeat your cast to this location a number of times as it is the most likely location for a feeding cod to hide.

Cross Overs

This is a term used for when (at minimum two) snags lay over the top of each other. The more crossovers you have in the one location the better. A cross over basically does the same thing as the root ball by providing cover and an ambush location for the fish. Many times you will find numerous crossovers from a number of snags in one pile. Make sure you cast to every cross over in the snag pile as they are all great ambush locations for Murray Cod.

This is an example of a 'Cross Over' that's out of the water

Vs or Forks

These are the last of the three key features. A ‘V’ or fork is where the branches on a fallen tree split into two and run out at different directions. The best and biggest form of this is where the main branch on a log breaks off from the main truck of the tree.

Why is it a location you want to concentrate on? Because this break in the log creates cover either side for the fish. This not only makes the fish feel more protected but also provides the fish with more distraction from its prey. Same principles as the above two features.

These spots are even better when you have floating scum pushed up in the fork creating a little veranda for the fish. One; it is more cover but even better it means the food flows down with the current and funnels into the fork. All the fish has to do is wait for the food to come to it. These are the spots that you are most likely to find a hungry fish.

You can see here a great example of a fork in a log. Even though this is a small log it will still hold a fish. Cast into the circle and retrieve back out.

Other Key Things to Remember

All the above features are great spots to concentrate your attention on, but if you mix them with the factors mentioned below you will increase your chances tenfold.


This is such an important point! Shadows are your friend because Murray Cod love the shade. If you have two good logs in front of you and one is in the sun and one is in the shade, always take the shaded log and give the other one to your mate.

Cod will feed in both situations, but majority of the time you want to target those shaded pockets. Fish the bank on the river that is shaded from the above trees, or cast to the side of the log that is casting a shadow. Nine times out of ten the fish will be sitting in the shade.

The shaded side of the river will always hold more active fish.

Current Flow

Fishing a river with almost zero current compared to one that has quick flowing water is totally different. You’re fishing style changes drastically!

Slow Current: In still water the fish could be hiding on any inch of the structure. As there is no current there is no particular cross over, fork or part of the snag that we can be sure the fish will be hiding on. In these situations you want to work the entire log as best you can. Cast to all the likely looking features.

Fast Current: When we add current, it’s much easier to determine where the hungry cod will be. Majority of the time they will be sitting towards the front of the log, somewhere close to flowing water, but still in under one of the above features, waiting for a feed to come past.  It’s much easier to pin point exactly where they will be which means you can fish these logs more quickly.

Tip: In saying this, when the current is slower you have a much better chance of landing larger cod that usually hold against the structure sitting in the deepest water. When you have fast current running over the top it’s almost impossible to get your lure down into the zone that’s 2-3m below the surface. So if you want to land that trophy sized fish, you need to be out there when the rivers are low and slow.


The depth of water surrounding the piece of structure is important. If it’s too shallow, chances are there won’t be many fish on the snag.

Cod will live in water less than 40cm but majority of the time you need at least a metre of water surrounding the snag (depending on the waterway you are fishing). Depths of 2-4m are the most common but they can exceed this, especially in larger rivers like the Murray.


I know that’s a lot of information but these tips will help you succeed on the water. Just remember you need to target the spots where the fish are hiding. Don’t waste your time in dead water – put in the effort where it counts.