A few years ago, I had the amazing opportunity to visit the east coast of Australia and tour some river and estuary restoration projects in New South Wales, while speaking with Aussie anglers about conservation and restoration when it comes to fishing. It was an eye-opening experience, and I was fortunate to meet some people who have become lifelong friends. Craig Copeland, who heads up fisheries studies in New South Wales showed me and Simon Evans, the executive officer for England’s Wye and Usk Foundation, some amazing things, including a Murray cod monitoring and restoration project in the New South Wales interior near the community of Nimboida.
Murray cod are incredible fish—they are predatory and known for guarding their nests with serious aggression. Sadly, their numbers have dropped precipitously since European colonization of Australia, but they persist in the Murray-Darling river system in New South Wales. Of note, they are the largest fish that live exclusively in fresh water in Australia (the popular baramundi can live in estuaries and salt water, too).
Evans and I were fortunate enough to get out on the water armed with telemetry equipment and under-water cameras to try and spot Murray cod, but to no avial. Nevertheless, the experience was amazing, and I vowed one day to get back to New South Wales and actually chase Murray cod with a fly rod—the video above has just inspired me to get back Down Under even more. While I didn’t get so see these amazing fish, I did get to see a platypus in the wild, and I got to sample some great Australian beers on trip from Sydney north to the Gold Coast, just over the boarder in Queensland.
As a side note, the Australian fisheries conservation community is growing exponentially. Copeland has been instrumental in crafting and stewarding a new conservation organization, OzFish Unlimited, which, I’m proud to say, is modeled closely after Trout Unlimited. When anglers care about their local fisheries, the next step is to do everything they can to make them better.
— Chris Hunt