The BIG Murray Cod
140 Murray Valley Highway, Swan Hill 3585, Victoria
Free to view
The Giant Murray Cod (note the title, he's bigger than big) has been greeting visitors to the region since 1991, a 14 metre long by 5 metres high replica of the critically endangered species of freshwater fish native to the Murray River.
The colossal cod was spawned on the silver screen, in the early nineties.
Stuck with a $15,000 prop too special to be destroyed but too big to go anywhere, they turned to the Swan Hill community to adopt the orphaned cod as a shiny new tourist attraction.
In preparation for a life outdoors the Lions, Rotary, Swan Hill Promotion and Development (now Swan Hill Inc) donated money to reinforce and fibreglass the fish.
From Mulwala to Swan Hill there are excellent fishing opportunities. Some of the top spots along this stretch include Barmah, Echuca and the famous Torrumbarry Weir.
The huge Murray cod mounted near the park in Swan Hill says it all – this is cod country. Local angling stories in this part of the world revolve around cod. One fish was evidently so big it had gravel rash on its belly and a sunburned back. Nobody knows how much the cod weighed, but three of its scales were used to roof a backyard dunny … so the story goes.
If you are into catching cod, yellowbelly and redfin, then Swan Hill is a great place to start. As well as the Murray, the Neimur, Wakool, Edwards, Little Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers are all within about 40 min drive. For those who prefer lakes, close options include Lakes Boga, Charm and Kangaroo, all of which fish well during the warmer months.
The Murray River is no longer a river in the purest sense of the word. It is controlled water divided into a series of pools by weirs and dams. The best fishing is upstream of the main bridge. Water on the downstream side is shallow and needs to be navigated carefully.
About half a kilometre downstream of the bridge, on the Victorian side, is an all-weather ramp. Access is from Milloo St.
While Murray Cod are capable of reaching more than 1 metre in length and reportedly the record for the largest caught was 1.8m and 113kg, cod of anything near this size have become much rarer since European settlement.
Popular spots include the willows near Murray Downs and, several kilometres further upstream, Pental Island. The latter has a solid reputation for producing big cod. Pental Island has a caravan park and boats can be launched from the bank. An all-weather ramp is also available there.
Visit Jim Credlin, the owner of the Swan Hill tackle store, who is a big fan of the lakes and can give you local tips. Lake Boga has 906 ha of water, with a boat ramp, picnic area, caravan park and all facilities. Jim reported he was amazed that the redfin were still in this lake as it has been allowed to run dry, and yet when it refilled ‘the redfin just reappeared’.
For the land-based angler there are plenty of areas to wet a line. One of the best is on the foreshore of the Hiawatha Caravan Park. Jim said another popular area is the bank near the regulator that controls water flow between little Lake Charm and big Lake Charm