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Murray Cod (Maccullochella peeli) Photographs and Information

The Murray Cod is Australia's best known and most sought after freshwater fish.   It can grow to weights of up to 45kg, although fish of this size are rare today.

This famous Australian freshwater fish is nearly always known as Murray cod, or simply as "cod" or "Murray". However, it is unrelated to the true cod family of the Northern Hemisphere, and is actually a more distant member of the perch group, which also contains the golden perch and Australian bass. In modern times, the use of the Aboriginal word "goodoo" has become popular in some circles when referring to Murray cod.

The Murray Cod is big, robust and barrel shaped with a huge mouth and small eyes set well forward on the head.  It is not a particularly good fighting fish, in fact is is quite lazy.  It is olive green to yellow/green or grey/green on the back fading to yellowish on the flanks and creamy yellow or white on the belly.  The back is overlaid with darker green or brown mottlings and reticulations which often extend well down the flanks.  The eyes are brown.

The second dorsal and caudal fins usually have white margins and sometimes such margin is also found on the ventral fin.  These fin tip colours are particularly striking on fish from clearer, faster flowing streams.

The Murray Cod is found in the entire Murray/Darling river systems, with the exception of the alpine and sub-alpine headwaters.  Cod have also been introduced into many dams and some eastern flowing (coastal) drainage's.  They are found in habitats ranging from shallow, fast-running streams with gravel beds to deep, turbid and slow flowing western rivers.  They also thrive in dams.  Even in quick flowing streams, Murray Cod tend to be found in deep holes, slicks and back eddies.  They favour deep water, cover and a ready access to food.

Murray Cod (Maccullochella peeli) Photo

Map showing where Murray Cod (Maccullochella peeli) are found in Australia

Murray Cod (Maccullochella peeli) in fish tank

Scientific Name Maccullochella peeli
Location The Murray/Darling river systems
Season All year round.
Size To 45kg
Australian Species Code 37 311903
Taste, Texture Excellent in smaller fish.  Oily in fish over 15kg

Highly valued for recreational, commercial and conservation purposes, the murray cod (Maccullochella peeli) is the largest freshwater fish found in Australia. Its natural distribution extends throughout the Murray Darling Basin, ranging west of the divide from southeast Queensland, through New South Wales, into Victoria and South Australia.

Live Murray Cod (Maccullochella peeli) PhotoUntil recently, there was a small but lucrative commercial fishery for murray cod and premium prices were often paid for fish at the markets. However, as a result of declining wild stocks the murray cod fisheries in New South Wales and Victoria have since closed, and the remaining fishery in South Australia will cease in July 2003. The growout of murray cod is supplementing, and will eventually replace, the diminishing wild fishery in markets.

In New South Wales, murray cod have also been introduced into many dams and some eastern flowing (coastal) drainages.
The translocation of western drainage species such as murray cod, golden perch, silver perch and catfish into the eastern drainages, however, may have the potential to cause significant ecological damage. Specifically, the translocation of murray cod may threaten the endangered eastern freshwater cod in the Clarence and Richmond river systems.

Fishing for Murray Cod:

Murray Cod will take live yabbies, grubs, shrimp or small live fish (see bait for freshwater fish)   They will also respond to a wide variety of lures, deep diving plugs, metal spoons and bladed spinners.

Anglers have come to appreciate the sporting qualities of these fine fish and they are more often sought on medium or even lightweight tackle baited with live yabbies, bardi grubs, shrimp or small, live fish. Murray cod respond actively to lures, especially if visibility through the water exceeds 30 centimetres or so. Deep-diving plugs, metal spoons, spinnerbaits and bladed spinners all work well. A slow, steady retrieve or walking-pace troll is best.

Fishing Area(s)
Fishing for Murray cod occurs in inland waters north of the Great Dividing Range and in a small section of the Yarra River. Fishing for this species is done in impoundments such as Lake Eildon, Lake Hume and Cairn Curran Reservoir, and riverine systems including the Goulburn, Ovens, Yarra, Lindsay and Loddon Rivers.

Victorian anglers spend significant periods of time fishing for Murray cod on the Murray River. It is important to note that fishing conducted on the Murray River (with the exception of fishing on Lake Hume) comes under the jurisdiction of NSW. The Murray River (with the exception of Lake Hume) is not considered in this report.

Fishing methods
Murray cod is one of Australia’s premier freshwater angling species. Recreational methods vary but the majority of cod fishing is done using reel and line or hand reels. Baits including bardi grubs, freshwater yabbies and garden worms have been known to produce results, and Murray cod will also take a variety of lures. Some fishing equipment is prohibited in inland waters (such as spear guns and mesh nets) and cannot be used to take Murray cod.

Recreational fishers targeting Murray cod often make incidental catches of other fish species (such as trout cod, golden perch, redfin perch and European carp). The recreational catch of other (non Murray cod) species is also controlled under Victoria’s recreational fishing regulations.

See Also: Bait for Trout and other Freshwater Fish

Cooking Murray Cod:

Murray cod are regarded as one of our best outback table fish. The flavour of smaller fish is excellent, especially those taken from clearer streams. However, they tend to be rather oily or fatty at weights over about 15 or 20 kg, and fish from very dirty water may have a muddy taint to their flesh. In deference to their increasing scarcity, many sport fishermen release most of their catch, keeping only the occasional fish for the table. In many areas there is a closed season to protect spawning cod; usually from September until the end of November.

Microwave Cooking Times for Fish
- Fish fillets – 5 minutes per 500g on medium-high, +50 seconds more for thicker fillets, or until flesh flakes
- Whole fish - Large – 6 minutes/750g on medium
- Whole fish – Small – 3-4 minutes on medium

Easy Fish Recipes - From How To Cook Fish

cod fish recipe main meal using cod fish cod fish fritters Alaskan Cod fish recipe
Panko Crusted Cod Cod Florentine Spanish Salt Cod Fritters Wild Alaska Tamarind Cod

Commercial Fishing for Murray Cod:


Murray cod grow rapidly in the first 4-5 years and are usually sexually mature at 4 years of age. Some individual fish can reach 64cm in the fifth year. Fully grown Murray cod have been known to attain 1.8 metres in length and weigh up to 113.5kg.

Murray cod are carnivorous, taking a wide variety of food from molluscs and crustaceans to many species of fish and occasionally water birds such as duck.

Spawning occurs in the spring and summer months in water temperatures between 16 and 21oc. Females can lay up to 40,000 eggs which are deposited in hollow logs or shallow water. Eggs hatch 6 to 13 days later, with juvenile fish feeding freely about 3-4 weeks later.

Murray cod produced by aquaculture

The techniques for large scale Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii peelii) fingerling production have been developed over the last 30 years, with fingerlings traditionally produced for restocking public and private waters.

In recent years there has been an increasing trend towards weaning and on-growing Murray cod commercially for human consumption, not just within Australia but also overseas.

Murray cod, by its nature being a large, aggressive, carnivorous, territorial species, would traditionally not be considered as an ideal aquaculture species. However, Murray cod has a number of attributes that make it suitable for aquaculture. These include:

  • Breeds easily in captivity

  • Readily accepts artificial feeds

  • High rate of growth and production in aquaculture (2-600 grams in 6-14 months at 20-25°C)

  • Reaches market size before maturing

  • Hardy and adaptable to crowding (routinely cultured at 80-100 kg/m³)

  • Highly valued species that is well-known in the markets.

Murray cod are produced in hatcheries, enabling enhancement of existing population, or restoration of the species to waters considered suitable for survival and growth of released fish. Its husbandry is well known and the species lends itself to polyculture e.g. catfish. There is one hatchery in central Victoria producing weaned fingerlings at 8 to 10 weeks of age from 0.5 to 1 gram, reared in plankton ponds. Cost fluctuates depending on volume purchased and other factors from 25c to 90c each.

Murray cod readily adapt to artificial environments and pelletised feeds. Australian Culture Eels at Euroa in Central Victoria are using a state-of-the-art closed system developed in Europe to grow out Murray cod. The company has been established less than two years and is set up to grow out Murray cod, silver perch, catfish and short finned eels. Other Murray cod farming ventures are being established by traditional land farmers who look to diversify into new export focused production opportunities.

Murray cod in the wild are extremely territorial and will kill others coming into its area. High density stocking of the fish tends to suppress this instinct and avoid injury to stock. High stocking densities have been achieved in intensive systems of up to 100kg/m3. However average stocking density for grow out is currently 45-50 kg/m3. Target size is 500-600 grams which is plate size. This can be achieved in 9-12 months, or fish can be held for specialty Chinese banquet markets and grown to 1.5kg.

More information about Aquaculture of Murray Cod - See Growfish information on Murray Cod including biology, husbandry, land & water requirements, operating and capital costs, licensing information, best practice environment guidelines and papers.

More information: Murray Cod Fishery Fisheries Status Report 2010


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