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The Murray river

The Murray Cod

The Bushman files - #5 Fishing in Echuca
- by Tony Charky-

So Pete gave me a 1200 km ride to Echuca over bumpy dustroads with no roadsigns. He'd just sort of follow his nose and the position of the sun, moon and stars. Heading South - no worries.

He is caracter this old chap - always barefoot, his feet as red as the dessert sand, and wearing an old hat that contains enought grease to deepfry a batch of french fries. Mind, I am not complaining. He is a nice bloke and brings me to Echuca.

Now, why Echuca?
Well, it's on the Murray river, and I wanted to fish for Murray cod. It's a sort of Australian pike-pearch that grows up to over 100 kg. Little chance I would actually catch one, but I don't wanted to leave Australia without at least having tried. In additon 4 days from then it was gonna be Christmas, so i wanted to be in a bit bigger town to celebrate the holidays.

When I arrived at the local youth hostel, I immediatly asked the manager where to find the river and how much chance I had of catching a Murray Cod. He told me that it would take me a 30 minute walk due north mate, zero chance, just the locals catch them.....yeahhh right.

So i unpack, grab my fishing gear and yabby nets, and start heading north. After about one and a half hour i arrive....back at the youth hostel! *Damn*, better get my compass so this time I'll find the river, catch me a few shrimps for bait and start fishing. The first catch was kind of an unpleasant surprise - a 50 cm long snapping turtle that tried to bite my kneecaps - better just cut the wire now. Then finally, after having caught a countless number of carps (they are a pest here and by law you have to throw them on shore, but they're ok bait for the yabbie nets) I land my first Murray Cod. It was just 55 cm and not exactly 100 kg, but if there's little ones it should be big ones as well. And there went the "zero chance"-theory of the manager anyway

I leave my yabby nets well baited in the river, and head back to the hostel. The manager could hardly believe his own eyes when he saw me gut and clean my first catch. After a couple of days he'll be crying his eyes out - the chap is used to young travellers with no nature experience and with hardly enough energy to even sit on their asses at the hostel doin nothing.

From that day I arrived with a nice catch of yabbies and shrimps every morning that shortly after would be boiling and ready for breakfast. On the third day I caught a 98 cm long Murray cod and earned myself the nickname "ye bloody aboriginal" from the manager who's probably still back there shaking his head in disbelief. I'm taking that as a compliment!

My Christmas celebration was sort of ok. I had a inuit girl as a date - not really a looker, but funny as hell - and I had a good time. Usually the fun ends at 2300 on the local pub. The closing hours really suck if you as me. On Christmas Eve things are a bit different. The pub is stuffed with 200-250 people having great fun until the band stops playing at 0300 in the morning and some uggly mother f****r starts screaming "EVERYBODY OUUUUUT". Well, not much to do but grab a bottle of liquer and make the streets unsafe with my inuit chick. And that's that...I guess I've seen it all here and I am off to Kangaroo Island next. I've got myself a room for "Old Year's Eve"


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