Every freshwater angler in this region dreams about hauling in that one, monster Murray cod that surpasses the 100cm mark – the fish of a lifetime, not unlike the infamous giant catfish dubbed General Sherman in one side-splitting episode of The Simpsons.
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Crookwell’s Zacc Broderick, after years of searching, finally landed his General Sherman earlier this week.
Mr Broderick, 26, landed a mammoth 121cm Murray cod at Wyangala Dam on Tuesday, catching the beast on a spinnerbait – a big cod’s favourite treat in the central west.
The monstrous Goodoo eclipsed Mr Brodrick’s previous personal best and, as he enthusiastically proclaimed, was the first time he’d hit the famed “metrey” mark.
“Mate, it was incredible,” Mr Broderick enthused.
“It is my first metrey, I’ve had a couple snap off by the boat in the past. Three or four snap off at the boat when they go for that last run, so to finally land one is pretty incredible.”
While undoubtedly a monster of the deep, Broderick is fully aware there is much, much bigger Murray cod out there – the largest on record was more than 180cm long and weighed over 100kg – and he plans on searching for them every chance he gets.
Murray cod populations have declined severely since European colonisation of Australia due to a number of causes, including severe overfishing, river regulation, and habitat degradation.
However, they once inhabited almost the entire Murray-Darling basin, Australia's largest river system, in very great numbers.
Although they are still listed as a vulnerable species, wild Murray Cod stocks are at their healthiest in years, according to the head of the Department of Primary Industries breeding program Matt McLellan.
"It wasn't that long ago we were worried the Murray cod was going to be gone, but there's certainly places around NSW where they're in numbers that they haven't been for 40 or 50 years, so its a great story for anglers," Mr McLellan said late last year.
Mr Broderick agreed, saying the amount of cod he and his fellow anglers are reeling in at Wyangala at the moment is “incredible”.
“We’re catching a lot more than we used to, for sure,” he said.
“Not giant ones, but every time we’re out there we tend to catch a dozen or so, probably all between 40 and 70-odd centimetres, which is a good sign for their population.”
Much of that is due to the stricter regulations, bag limits and as much as anything, a far more considerate approach from anglers regarding catch and release.
Mr Broderick’s monster from Wyangela was released and “swam away happily” and he encouraged other anglers to do the same.
“That’s one of the best parts of catching the big ones, seeing them swim off,” he enthused.
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