Cod worth the wait

By Country News

It took him 33 years, but Echuca amateur angler Jason Caddaye finally got to land a big one.

Not only did he hook this 1.09m monster Murray cod recently, no sooner had he let it go than he jagged a second one — although the second fish was smaller at 84cm.

Both were landed in a place Mr Caddaye was fishing for the first time — the port at Echuca, just slightly upstream from the wharf.

And in the best fishing traditions he was back there, at almost first light, the following Monday to have another go.

‘‘Yes, this catch really has been 33 years in the making — I have had an incredible run since last September but it’s plain crazy catching one this big,’’ Mr Caddaye said.

‘‘We reckon he weighed about 25kg; although we measured him we didn’t have a scale — but a comparison check online suggested a cod this size would be around that weight,’’ he said.

A scale wasn’t the only thing missing.

‘‘It would be the first time in ages I did not have a fishing net with me,’’ Mr Caddaye said with a laugh.

‘‘But funniest was my mate Matt Hodge, who I normally fish with,’’ he said.

‘‘He was missing too but when I rang him and sent him a photo I reckon he got down here in about five seconds.’’

Mr Caddaye was using a 20lb break line with a 30lb trace — pretty light gear for the fish he was working hard to haul in.

His 11-year-old daughter Marleigh thought the rod was going to break, it bent so far — but Mr Caddaye said his trusty Daiwa gear performed perfectly.

‘‘Marleigh hasn’t really been into fishing but after seeing this one she is thinking she might give it a go,’’ Mr Caddaye said.

With no net to land his catches, Mr Caddaye made use of a towel to ensure he kept his fingers intact while lifting the cod from the bank and holding it up for photos.

Before the weekend’s monster, the biggest cod Mr Caddaye had caught was 75cm — and that was in September.

‘‘What I couldn’t believe was catching the second one on the same day in the same spot. Last year, 85cm would have been amazing — but not now,’’ he said.

‘‘I mostly fish around the bridge, the east boat ramp and from the NSW side of the river — but seeing how I live here I guess it’s funny this was my first time at the port.

‘‘It took about eight minutes to get him in — there wasn’t a lot of fight, he was simply so bloody heavy.

‘‘When you have been fishing as long as this you think you get to know how the cod thinks and behaves and where to find him, but I didn’t plan anything like this when I got to the port.’’

After recording the occasion from every angle with his phone, Mr Caddaye let both fish go.

And reckons that was the real highlight.

‘‘I videoed them getting back into the water and it was amazing how quickly they took off,’’ he said.

‘‘But it was better than catching them I reckon, to know they would keep growing.’’

If he didn’t have any more big hits at the port Mr Caddaye said he would give it a miss for a while and fish somewhere else.

But with the memories of that catch and release he might find it hard to keep away for too long.