Murray Cod - Maccullochella Peelii

Did you know? The Largest recorded Murray Cod was 1.83m and 113.6kg.

Sustainability and Stock Status

Wild stock numbers have declined dramatically. This could partly be because of over-fishing by commercial fisherman during the early settlement. However other human factors such as dams, weirs, habitat degradation and introduced species have played a role. Unfortunately the Murray Cod is now scarce in some areas.
The species is listed as Vulnerable by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, and as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Murray Cod are bred in hatcheries and stocked into various rivers and impoundments throughout QLD, NSW, ACT, VIC and SA.

Catch and Release practices are strenuously encouraged because the Murray Cod has significant economic, cultural, recreational and environmental values for Australia.

Renmark, South Australia, 1898.


The Murray Cod can be found in both slow flowing, turbid waters or fast flowing, clear water of rivers and streams. But they have also adapted to man made impoundments.
They prefer deep water and stay in or around some type of structure such as submerged timber, logs, boulders, undercut banks, steep drop-offs and overhanging vegetation. However at night they will cruise open water hunting for food.

Photo: Gunther Schmida -

behavioural characteristics and time of year

Murray Cod (Sometimes called Mary River Cod) have an attractive colouring with a mottled pattern of dark green to olive on a yellow background and creamy white underbelly. They have a powerful robust body with a large rounded tail fin.
Murray Cod participate in a spawning migration each year if possible. Females lay eggs that are guarded by her male partner until they hatch about 14 days later. They reach sexual maturity at 5-6 years of age and they can live for 60 years.

There is a definite "closed" season for Murray Cod so always check with the State or Territories governing bodies to make sure you're not targeting fish during the "closed" season. 

Photo: Gunther Schmida -

Fishing gear and techniques

The Murray Cod is a highly regarded native angling species and is the apex ambush predator of the southern freshwater systems. It is carnivorous and has a broad diet that can consist of fish, crustaceans, molluscs, turtles, frogs, mice, rats, birds, lizards, snakes, grubs, worms and other insects or small animals. Murray Cod live in waterways with large rocks, fallen timber, snags, undercut banks, overhanging vegetation and usually prefer deep holes in the main river channels. Also look for where water feeds in to larger pools like at the bottom of rapids and waterfalls where fish can wait in ambush.

Their are restrictions on the type of fishing gear that can be used for Murray Cod so check with your States fisheries. Plus size and bag limits do apply so check those out as well before wetting a line.

When fishing for Murray Cod in rivers and streams casting accuracy is important, as is strength for handling larger fish. A Baitcaster set-up fits the bill for this type of fishing and they are more often used than spinning outfits. A six foot, 6-10kg baitcast rod matched with a quality baitcaster reel which has a drag rating of at least 5kg or more and can handle a reasonable quantity of 20 to 50lb braid mainline is a good choice. Use 20 to 60lb Fluorocarbon or Nylon leader depending on the fishing situation.

Surface Lures, Spinnerbaits, Chatterbaits, Diving Minnow style lures, Lipless Crankbaits, Soft Plastics and Flys are all options for targeting Murray Cod with artificial lures. Work your baits slowly.
Use lure sizes from 70 to 200mm and hook sizes from 3/0 to 10/0. And when fishing natural baits or soft plastic lures only fish as heavy as necessary or fish unweighted if possible.
Good natural baits are bardi grubs and yabbies.

Killing and Cooking

We strongly encourage the release of this species. If you are going to keep one then please strictly adhere to the size limits for your State or Territory and always release undersize and oversize fish. Also, please take extra care with these fish and try to return them to the water in excellent condition.