Wodonga man lands 'holy grail' Murray cod near Barnawartha

KRIS Lonergan's new year got off to a cracking start. 

While most New Year’s partygoers were sleeping in after a night of revelry, he was out proving the early bird gets the worm – so to speak.

Mr Lonergan landed a monstrous murray cod at roughly 6am on a stretch of the Murray River near Barnawartha, measuring 115 centimetres and weighing roughly 36 kilograms.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mr Lonergan said it blew his previous best catch out of the water.

“It's probably my best catch to date, and I think it always will be,” he said.

“It took a fair bit of patience, being that size I had to wear him down a bit.

“You see catches like this in the media, but I've never seen a fish this big myself.”

Mr Lonergan now has exclusive bragging rights over his mates, who might be regretting their decision not to join him for the early morning drop of the line.

“They were all a bit jealous when they saw it, they were meant to come out with me but changed their plans at the last minute.

“I made sure I got plenty of pictures before I let him go.

“Part of the joy of fishing is watching them go again.”

After the region was deluged by rain over winter, Russell Mason from the Compleat Angler in Lavington said it might not be the last time cod of that size were caught in the North East.

“Locally, the fishing has been fantastic,” he said. “Everyone seems to be catching cod.

“There's a lot of smaller fish at the moment, which bodes well for the years to come.

“The bulk of the cod have been between roughly 350 to 550 millimetres, with a few big ones on top of that.

“Any cod more than a metre long is the holy grail for a lot of people.”

Mr Mason said that while this season has been strong so far, the heavy rainfall meant following seasons would also yield a high amount of cod and other species.

“A combination of things have made this season really good, but that wet winter is going to be really good for future seasons,” he said.

“All the different species of fish have benefited from it, particularly yellowbelly.

“A lot of fisherman don't keep cod anymore either, they might catch 20 or 30 in a day, but only keep one for a feed.

“They're the biggest inland fish we have in Australia, they're a beautiful and fun fish to catch.”