Species Guide

Murray Cod

Cod | Codfish | East Coast Cod | Goodoo | Green Fish | Green Monster | Green Backs
Scientific Name
Maccullochella peelii
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This species guide was written by Victorian WIRFAB leader and Black Magic Brand Ambassador, Shea Bloom. She's an avid fresh and salt water angler, who does volunteer work to restock native fish and work with organisations such as Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA), North East Catchment Management Authority, and Ozfish to revegetate and enhance habitat in bushfire affected areas.


Murray Cod is an exclusively freshwater species found only in Australia in the Murray-Darling River system.

They have a deep elongated body with a round cross section, a broad scooped head and a large mouth lined with pads of very small needle like teeth. For this reason, most anglers will use toughened gloves or lip grips when handling Murray cod.

Murray Cod are a cream to olive green colour with dark grey to greenish blotches over the head and body. Their belly is generally white.

Murray Cod are voracious feeders and predators with a large mouth designed for engulfing anything from reptiles such as lizards and snakes to large water birds. Cod will eat basically anything; they have even been known to eat golf balls looking quite like birds’ eggs that fall out of nests.

Cod were heavily stocked by local fishing authorities to try and overcome the plague proportions of European Carp, which are now steadily declining thanks to these efforts.


Murray cod are Australia’s largest freshwater fish. The largest ever recorded was 1.8 meters long and weighed 118kg. They’re also extremely long-lived, regularly reaching 30-35 years of age. The oldest Murray cod ever recorded was 48 years old, but they almost certainly live far longer.

Adult fish regularly reach 80-100cm in length. A 1 metre cod is a dream fish for many freshwater anglers; however, cod of this size must be safely released as NSW and Victoria have “keep” size limits of 55-75cm.

The cod’s size depends on its habitat, with those living in smaller waterways reaching at least 60cm and between 3kg to 4kg. In larger waterways, they can grow beyond 100cm and weigh up to 70kg.

Minimum legal length - 55cm
Maximum legal length - 75cm
Daily bag limits - 1 for rivers, and 2 for specified lakes and impoundments, and urban lakes
Closed season - 1 September to 31 November every year
For more information, visit the Victorian Fishing Authority website.

Minimum legal length - 55cm
Maximum legal length - 75cm
Daily bag limits - 2 per angler, with a possession limit of 4
Closed season - 1 September to 31 November every year
For more information, visit the NSW Recreational Fishing website.

Minimum legal length - 60cm
Daily bag limit -2
Closed season - from 1 August - 31 October every year
For more information, visit the QLD Recreational Fishing website.


You can only target Murray cod from 1 December – 31 August. However, there are some impoundments along the river system where you can fish all year round. These include Lake Eildon in Victoria, and Blowering and Copeton Dam in NSW.

Summer is a good time to fish for Murray cod, especially at dawn and dusk. However, Murray cod will feed throughout the day depending on the conditions.


Murray cod are only found in the Murray-Darling River system,which begins in southern Queensland where the Culgoa and Barwon rivers meet. This flows into the Murray River at the NSW and Victorian border, and the Murray reaches the sea south-east of Adelaide in South Australia.

Their habitat can vary throughout the river system. You’ll find them in small, clear, streams, as well as large, slow and fast moving rivers. However, they do prefer deep holes with large rocks, fallen trees, stumps, claybanks and overhanging vegetation which they use as cover.

Over the warmer months, Murray cod will hold a little deeper in the cool water. Whereas over winter, when the water is cooler, the fish will sit right up in the shallows.


Australia has a great programme, initiated by the Victorian Recreational Fishing Authority, called ‘Care for Cod’ and these are the 4 simple steps they recommend taking to protect this beloved species:

  • Be prepared | Have your cod gloves, knotless net, and long-nose pliers ready for a catch.
  • Reduce air time | Minimise the time the cod spends out of the water to under 30 seconds. Where possible, leave the cod in the water.
  • Gently does it | Support the cod’s body by putting support under its belly.
  • Use the right gear | When baiting fishing use circle hooks and a tight line to avoid deep hooking the fish, also reduce fight time by using heavier gear.

Find out more about the ‘Care for Cod’ programme here


If Murray cod are on the chew, they will eat just about anything. But the most common ways to target them is casting and trolling lures, or using baits.


For bait fishing, you’ll need a 6-10kg rod with a 4000 reel, spooled with 30-50lb Inferno Braid. Your leader will depend on the environment you’re fishing in. If there is a lot of weed or underwater structure, you’ll want to fish with 50-60lb Fluorocarbon leader. If you’re fishing in open water, then 30-40lb Fluorocarbon leader will suffice.

5/0 or 6/0 KL recurve hooks are ideal for bait fishing, and you can use just about anything for bait, including yabbies, cheese, bardie grubs, and raw chicken. Circle hooks are highly recommended when fishing for Murray Cod as they usually hook in the corner of the mouth, which increases the chances of a safe and healthy release.


If you fish with lures, you’ll need a 4-6kg baitcaster rod with a 1500 reel. To ensure you can cast your lure to the right spot, spool up with 30-50lb Hyperglide® 13x Braid, which is a high performance casting braid. Lures you can use include spinner baits, diving hardbody lures, soft plastics, surface lures, and swim baits.

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