Fishing on the Mighty Murray

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.  But the more popular fishing is for the Redfin (English Perch) and Golden Perch.  The Redfin not only fights well and make excellent table fare, but it often bites better when the water warms up!  And don’t forget the Yabbies and Murray Crayfish.

Daniel at BIG4 Swan Hill is relatively new to the area but has strong fishing credentials working as a pearl diver and deck hand in Karratha, North West Australia.  If you need help setting up, finding information or have any general boating or fishing questions Dan is there to help you out.

Below we have summarised useful information to help plan your next fishing trip. The largest Murray cod ever caught was 1.8m and weighing 113 kg!!

Catching Cod, Redfin or Golden Perch

Rivers: Murray, Neimur, Wakol, Edwards, Wakool, Little Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers.

Murray River: Fish upstream from the main bridge. Fishing downstream from the main bridge is shallow and needs to be navigated carefully.  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.

Lake fishing in warmer months: Lake Boga, Lake Charm and Kangaroo Lake. The lakes are collectively known as the Kerang wetlands and has plentiful stocks of Redfin, Golden Perch, carp and cod.

Bank Fishing: Kangaroo Lake (close to the regulator at the Swan Hill end of the lake), foreshore of the Hiawatha Caravan Park, near the regulator that controls water flow between little Lake Charm and big Lake Charm, Pental Island and a bit further away at Stoney Crossing.

Much of the above information has been sourced from an Explore Australia article.  If you would like to read in more detail the article is here.

Catching the Murray Crayfish

For those anglers looking to do something really different this autumn, head north of the Great Dividing Range and chase one of our lesser known native species – the Murray crayfish. If that sounds appealing, you don’t have long because the open season runs for only 4 months a year from May until August.  Unlike the yabby, the Murray cray hibernates during the warmest months of the year. But when water temperatures start to plummet mid-year, Murray crays become active.  (source Catch more fish)

Boat Ramps

  • Swan Hill downstream from the Main Bridge – access is from Milloo Street (undergoing a revamp soon – here)
  • Pental Island caravan park boat ramp (plenty of shade)
  • Lake Boga
  • Kangaroo Lake
  • Lake Charm (can handle larger boats)
  • Stoney Crossing
  • Nyah Recreation Reserve
  • Wood Wood – near Nyah- Vinifera Park
  • Federal Square in Swan Hill
  • Beverford.

Swan Hill Region Fishing Map

A fantastic resource available is a Swan Hill Region Fishing map (below) put together by Signs Plus who traveled the local area with their GPS and mapped out boat ramps, camping and fishing spots, accommodation and more. They have added an easy to use website so you can view or download the map absolutely free. The printed map is still available at local fishing shops, Swan Hill Information Centre or direct from Signs Plus.

Find the interactive map here


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Fishing License

The interesting thing about fishing along the Murray is working out whether you are fishing in Victoria or New South Wales!  You must have a valid New South Wales fishing license, even if you are fishing from the Victorian side of the Murray River.  If you plan to fish the lakes or water-ways south of the Murray you need a Victorian license.

Fishing license costs

NSW (see here)

The fees are:

  • $7 for three days
  • $14 for one month
  • $35 for one year
  • $85 for three years

VIC (see here)

The fees are:

  • 3 day licence for $10 (previously a 2-day licence)
  • 28 day licence for $20.30
  • 1 year licence for $35.70 ($33.60 if purchased online)
  • 3 year licence for $96.70 ($91.60 if purchased online).

Where to Buy bait, tackle and fishing gear in Swan Hill

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JC’s Bait & Tackle

JC’s Bait and Tackle Facebook page has a wealth of up to date local fishing information. The actual store is located at 488 Campbell Street, Swan Hill

Or call them on phone 03 5033 0407 or ph 0427 330 407 or ph 0488 266 453

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Swan Hill Fishing & Shooting Supplies

Located at 41 Campbell Street, Swan Hill or call them on 03 5032 4378


Bag Limits

There are limits on the number of fish that can be caught.

The Bag limit is the maximum number of fish you can take per day. The Possession limit is the maximum number of fish you can have if you’ve been fishing for more than one day. One day is equal to the 24 hour period from midnight to midnight. For freshwater fishing it is equal to twice the daily bag limit unless otherwise stated.

Golden Perch

Good baits: Shrimp, Yabbies, Worms, spinner baits.

Common Name/s: Golden perch (Yellowbelly)
Scientific Name: Macquaria ambigua
Minimum legal size: 30 cm
Bag/possession limit VIC & NSW: 5

Retained whole or in carcass form.


Good baits: spin lures, soft plastics lures.

Common Name/s: Redfin (English Perch)
Scientific Name: Perca fluviatilis
Minimum legal size: No minimum
Bag/possession limit VIC & NSW: No limit. Anglers are encouraged not to return redfin back to the water as they are a voracious predator that prey on native fish species and other aquatic organisms.

Removing redfin will enhance fishing opportunities for salmonid and native species.

Anglers are reminded it is illegal to transport live fish without appropriate approval from the department.

Murray Cod

Good baits: Bardi Grubs, Yabbies, lures and large ies and cheese!


Common Name/s: Murray cod
Scientific Name: Maccullochella peelii
Legal size: Minimum 55cm
Maximum 75cm
Bag/possession limit Victoria

2 in specified lakes (Lake Boga, Lake Charm) & 1 in rivers

Retained whole or in carcass form
Absolute state-wide possession limit : 5 and less than 30 kg in any other form anywhere in Victoria.

New South Wales

Daily limit: 2

Possession limit: 4


Closed season: 1 Sept-30 Nov inclusive, except Lake Eildon and Copeton Dam which is open year round.


Good baits: Fish heads, chicken gut.


Common Name/s: Yabby
Scientific Name: Cherax spp.
Minimum legal size: no minimum
Possession limit in, on or next to Victorian waters: – 20 litres whole yabby; or
– 150 whole yabby; or
– 5 litres of yabby meat in any form not exceeding 150 tails (including claws or other parts).
Possession limit anywhere else in Victoria: You must not possess:
– more than 60 litres of whole yabby; or
– more than 400 whole yabby; or
– more than 10 litres of yabby (other than whole yabby) not exceeding 400 tails.
Note: Berried female yabbies must be returned to the water.
Collection methods for yabbies: – Not more than 10 baited lines (no hooks) (see Permitted Use of Equipment); or

– Not more than 2 bait traps (labelled) (see Using Equipment in Inland Waters); or

– Not more than 5 hoop nets in the waters and tributaries of specified waters (see Using Equipment in Inland Waters); or

– No open lift top nets in the waters and tributaries of specified waters (see Using Equipment in Inland Waters); or

– A combination of 10 nets (labelled) that are hoop nets or open top lift nets in other waters including Lake Eildon, Rocklands Reservoir and Lake Darthmouth.

Opera house nets: The use of possession of opera house nets (see diagram) is prohibited in, on or next to Victorian public waters.

Opera house net
Opera house nets can only be used in private inland waters such as farm dams where a maximum of 3 pots applies.

Labelling: Hoop nets, bait traps and open top lift nets must be attached to a tag that remains above the water’s surface with the recreational fisher’s full name and place of residence clearly and legibly written.  For detailed information concerning equipment see Using Equipment in Inland Waters.

New South Wales

The bag limit of 200 and possession limit for 200 applies for Yabbies fished in NSW.

Permitted traps and nets are the yabby trap, shrimp trap, hoop net, hand hauled yabby net and landing net. No other traps and nets are permitted in inland waters. Yabby traps must be lifted within a 24 hour period (except commercial fishers).

Legal dimensions, mesh sizes and closed areas for traps and nets are available from your local Fisheries Office. In certain waters, you may use, or have in your possession, a maximum of 5 yabby traps, 1 shrimp trap and 5 hoop (lift) nets – all tagged with your name and address. For fixed mesh, the size is calculated on the narrowest point of any axis. For soft netting such as used in hoop nets, mesh size is calculated across the diagonal.

Specific closures may prohibit the use of, or limit the number of, traps and nets.

Yabby trap in NSW

Maximum dimensions 1 x 0.6 x 0.3 m
Mesh size 13mm minimum measured across the stretched diagonal from knot to knot. Rigid mesh such as metal or hard plastic is prohibited.
Entrance funnels A bycatch reduction device must be fitted to all entrance funnels. The device must consist of a rigid ring with a maximum internal diameter of 90mm permanently affixed to entry funnels at some point along their length, so as to restrict the entry funnels to a maximum opening of 90mm measured in any direction.
Maximum number Unless otherwise specified, five nets may be set, used or in your possession.
Identification The position of any trap must be marked above water by a buoy or tag. Identification tags and buoys must clearly display the letters “YT” with the user’s initial, surname, year of birth and postcode, 15 mm in height, clearly visible and in a contrasting colour to the buoy and tag.
Maximum set time 24 hours before lifting.
Waters May be used to take yabbies and shrimp in inland waters except trout waters, closed waters and the following areas: (i) waters east of the Newell Highway (ii) the Murray River from the Newell Highway at Tocumwal downstream to the Echuca Road Bridge (iii) the Edward River from the Murray River at Picnic Point downstream to Stevens Weir and (iv) the Murrumbidgee River from Narrandera downstream to the Darlington Point Road Bridge. Help reduce wildlife drownings in yabby traps.

Murray Cray


Common Name/s: Murray spiny freshwater crayfish
Minimum legal size: 10 cm carapace length
Maximum legal size: 12 cm carapace length
Bag limit in VIC and NSW 2
Absolute state-wide possession limit 4 Murray spiny freshwater crayfish anywhere in Victoria and NSW
Closed season: 1 September to 31 May for waters north of the Great Dividing Range (see map).


Rubbish and recycling disposal locations

Finally, if you want to get rid of any of your rubbish before heading back below are the rubbish and disposal locations in the Swan Hill area.  Call to check opening times on 03 5036 2333.

Swan Hill Sea Lake – Swan Hill Rd – 4km West of Swan Hill

Monday to Friday 9.00am – 4.00pm Sunday 9.00am – 4.00pm
Saturday 9.00am – 2.00pm

Piangil – 246 Hayward Rd, 3km south of the township adjacent to railway line

Wednesday 9.00am – 3.00pm
Sunday 1.00pm – 4.00pm

Robinvale – 899 Robinvale-Sea Lake-Swan Hill Rd, 10km south east of Robinvale

Monday – Wednesday 9.00am – 3.00pm
Friday and Sunday 9.00am – 3.00pm

Ultima – Sea Lake – Swan Hill Rd, 1km East of Ultima

Sunday and Wednesday 9.00am – 1.00pm

Manangatang – 126 Moonday Rd

Tuesday 1.00pm – 4.00pm Thursday 9.00am – 1.00pm
Sunday 9.00am – 12 noon


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