Glen “Stewie” Stewart
Freshwater Natives Guru And Fishing Writer
Stewie is a well-known NSW freshwater fishing identity who caught his first cod as a kid so long ago that he can’t even remember the fish! He’s spent his whole life in search of Murray cod and other native freshwater species and has written a regular column for NSW Fishing Monthly for around 15 years.
Stewies Tips For Swimbaiting Murray Cod
- Swimbaiting is a successful technique for Murray cod wherever they are found in impoundments and rivers, but there are some subtle differences in approach depending on the bait species that make up the staple diet of the cod in each system. If you get to know what the bait species (redfin, carp, bony bream, etc) behaves you can figure out where to find cod and how to fish them.
- A lot of anglers don’t realise that when large cod are feeding during winter they become very pelagic and are no longer structure oriented. They’re often found in areas that are flat and featureless, devoid of timber but rich in baitfish. Cod will push bait into weedbeds or banks and then feed on them.
- Stewie finds it’s useful to scout around and figure out where the bait are during the day when the fishing is usually quiet, then sneaking in stealthily and anchoring up well in advance of prime-time for fishing (dawn and dusk). However, he notes that bait move and can sometimes be found in different places as day turns to night.
- Stealth is super important when cod fishing, especially on hard-fished waters. Do everything you can to reduce noise in your boat, sneak into your fishing spot on electric motor well ahead of time and then anchor or tie off to a tree.
- There are plenty of situations where it pays to get out of the boat and walk the bank in order to get to the fish without spooking them. Cod use their regular feeding places on a consistent basis and are often in such shallow water and so close to the shore that a boat will invariably spook them.
- The prime swimbait opportunities are an hour before dawn until an hour after as well as an hour before and after dusk. They can be caught through the night on swimbaits but during the day will often retreat back to rest up in snags and are better targeted on a big plastic, a large crankbait or other lure style at these times.
Stewies Cod Swimbait Fishing Tackle
- It’s important to be able to cover water for this style of fishing, even though you may be anchored up or tied to a tree. An 8ft or longer swimbait rod is a good choice, Glen uses an Edge Black Widow Swimbait rod rated at ½ oz to 8 oz casting weight, coupled with a 300-400 size Shimano Calcutta or Tranx loaded with 50lb Toray Superstrong braid and 50-60 lb Toray Power Game Fluorocarbon leader. He finds that this braid and fluorocarbon combination has more stretch than most, which can save lures being broken off during casting.
Stewies Swimbait Lures For Cod
- An 8” Castaic BD Shad is an excellent lure, although no longer in production. It’s an 8”, 4 piece lure with a fibrous tail that does a good job of holding scent and has the perfect shad-shaped body for cod fishing. Other large profile, multi-jointed, slow sinking soft plastic lures may also fill this gap if you don’t have any BD Shads. A good strategy is to fish these at those times when cod are pelagic and are herding and smashing bait in pretty open water. Let the boat drift quietly and make super long casts ahead of the drift. Watch what the bait species are doing and be sure to mimic them. If the bait is well up off the bottom, your lure needs to be up at the same level. Fishing your lure beneath a pelagic Murry cod will rarely get a bite.
- The Ballista Tremor is a 3 in 1 cod lure that can be used as a surface lure, a wakebait or a shallow diver by simply switching out the interchangeable bibs, making it super versatile and reducing the number of lures required to target cod. Stewie has had greater success using this lure as a diver, but has snagged some very large fish fishing it on the surface too. This lure is great when the fish have pulled back into structure once the prime feeding period is over and can be bumped and bumbled through the timber with the shallow diving bib installed. If the fish are in shallower water, fishing the Tremor as a wakebait or surface crawler can also be very effective.
- For his third lure, Stewie chose to throw a lure into the mix that hasn’t been made yet – his dream cod swimbait. This would be a three or four piece, 8 to 10” shad profile lure but the challenge would be keeping the weight down – 3-4 oz would be the sweet spot for long days of casting. He’d have three line attachment points: one on top for deeper work, one on the nose for shallow running and one underneath for surface work. An interchangeable internal tungsten weight system that isn’t exposed and doesn’t create noise but allows adjustment of the weighting and a system that can be used to dampen the lure action when a finesse approach is required would complete the design.
Fish-Tec Solutions are importers of high end American and Japanese fishing tackle, including the Edge Rods, Castaic Lures and Toray lines Stewie uses for cod fishing.
Ballista Lures are an Australian lure design and manufacturing company with a wide range of innovative products, including the Tremor 3 in 1 lure that gets discussed at length in this episode.
FishoTopia is a community of keen Aussie anglers sharing information and supporting each others fishing journey.