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The Full Report - 2022 Lake Mulwala Cod Nationals

Wow, what an event to be a part of and what a ridiculous effort from Steve and Thomas Pinter to go back to back to back!

It's hard enough to win one Cod Nats, let alone three of the buggers in a row! But none of this is luck as the team is ultra-consistent and fish their way very carefully through the event.

But what about Fat Betty you may ask? Or you may not care, in which case, look away now as this will be a big read filled with immense highs and some mind-numbing lows. It'll be a story of epic failure that shows just how quickly that 100 foot drop off the cliff can happen. Nah, it's not all bad, we had a ball and had some amazing memories that I'd love to share with you all - and not all of them came from the deck of Fat Betty's boat.


Not living anywhere near Mulwala (yep I want to uppercut myself almost every week over that fact!), Shane Banks and I cruised down to Mulwala from Sydney on Saturday and met our boat supplier Braddo on the water. Brad has been overly generous in lending us his rig the last three years and we've busted plenty of things above and below the waterline in those three years - sorry mate!

Interestingly, this year we thought we had clean skinned it until Brad sent us an image of his Garmin Force electric with the skeg completely removed - oops!

With weed everywhere we decided to concentrate on the lower third of the lake, looking in deeper water for fish. Brad is a gun scope operator and his skills showed us plenty of fish and led to the capture of enough 60+ models to give us some confidence in this area. The highlight lure was a jighead rigged Zerek Flat Shad Pro 5" in the Black Jack colour. One brilliant afternoon 8 cod decided to introduce themselves to the lure!

We also scoped a bit outside of comp hours in areas we were not going to fish and had a ball watching the master land a few fish, so we knew there were plenty of fish about.

Brad left on the Monday giving us Tuesday to have a play on our own and make final plans. We hadn't looked up river as when we drove past the Bundalong boat ramp a few days earlier, we stopped in and had a look at some really dirty water, plus we needed to find a lake option as river fish dry up pretty quickly once you sting them. But it got the better of us and Tuesday morning we headed upstream for a look. I'm glad we did as the water had cleared, the flow was good and first cast at one of the cod snags up there Banksy nailed a 62cm cod on a spinnerbait. That was enough for me and I told Banksy to sit down and we roared off to check out the other river snags.

Our two hour play upriver had Banksy casting twice only - away from the snags, but close enough to them to tell if they were fishable due to the huge amount of weed growing. It was a great way to settle on a plan and all of the main river areas I like to fish were easily fishable - not so much the many kilometres of backwaters that were choked with weed.

So the plan was made to fish from Majors and head upstream to above the Murray and Ovens junction and see how we went.

We had a slow day after that, getting off the water for a refresh and clean up of gear before briefing night and the Calcutta, which was crazy and record breaking! We managed to snare Team Wilson (Ian and Matt Rogers) as a syndicate of 9 individuals and as the lake was full of weed, we thought it was a great bet.

For those interested, the Top 5 teams all broke the old Calcutta price record of $1600 and broke it easily!

Team Wilson $1900

Jones Doyle Plumbing $1950

Team Garmin $2600

Team KD $3160

Black Widow $5000

And as for little old us in Fat Betty - amazingly we went for $800. Well overpriced for an old has been and a bloke from Sydney who fishes Mulwala once a year.

Day 1 Spinnerbait Day

As we headed up the road to Majors, I wasn't concentrating on the drive in the dark and when I looked up, I casually asked Banksy why we were going to Bundalong? His reply was a classic silence. So Bundalong it was for Day 1 and time was slipping away from us with a 7:45am start.

We launched, got our stuff ready and fired up the boat, making it to spot 1 about 5 minutes after the official start time. No problem, we all need a few settling casts so we slowly drifted in to the perfect casting spot and hit Spot Lock on the electric. The boat swivelled in the current and Banksy shot out a cast to the right hand side of the snag and I cast out towards the left hand side. Banksy was confirming he'd run over the snag when my lure hit it also with a gentle knock and then all hell broke loose!

Not even one full handle wind after the contact with the snag a cod had smacked the Bassman spinnerbait and after the first head shake I said to Banksy, get the bloody net, this is a good one. To put this into perspective, over the last 30 years this snag had only produced cod up to about 65cm - the perfect tournament fish for the Nats. But this thing I'd hooked had that covered!

As cod do, this one didn't set the world on fire until it hit the surface and a thick old head broke through and then it went nuts. Banksy now understood my urgency (the high pitched whining noise coming out of my throat may have helped) and he dumped his rod and got the net ready. One short lunge, then another and the big fish's head disappeared into the net and it was secured!

Measuring out at 903mm, you literally couldn't seriously ask for a better start!

We joked that this is exactly how you stuff up your whole tournament day, but the fish God's were smiling on us that day because an hour and a bit after my first cast 90 we were scoping a deeper pocket of water that I knew had bigger fish when we saw a good show. I cast immediately and nailed the cast and the big fish immediately started the chase, crashing the lure but missing the hooks! This normally means the fish is done, but Banksy yelled out that the fish was still there and hunting off to the left so he swivelled the pole, got the line and cast his spinnerbait. As soon as the lure hit the surface the fish turned it's nose up and you just know it's going to eat!

Banksy showed immense patience to get the lure in the right spot, engaged the reel and wound the Bassman perfectly over the fish's head and on cue the fish accelerated and nailed it! This time the hook hit home and Banksy was into a good one.

After a little bit of fuss boatside, we popped a cracker into the net that would later measure out at 960mm on the button!

Ecstatic is not the right word with three legal fish landed in just over an hour, of which two were 90cm plus!

Our morning session went something like this:

Boothy 903mm

Boothy 477mm

Boothy 613mm

Banksy 960mm

Banksy 480mm

Boothy 572mm

Boothy 452mm

Boothy 471mm

Boothy 469mm

Boothy 590mm

Banksy 463mm

Boothy 509mm

That's 12 scorers and 5 legals in a morning session, plus uncountable numbers of 43cm cod. Let's just say in the rain and wind, and through the shivering and bitching, we had just experienced my best ever morning session up the river in over 30 years of fishing the place! It was that good!

Results: 1st with 21.3 points

Day 2 Hardbody Day

I'd rather not talk about this day, but seeing how we fished the comp I suppose I have to - sigh!

Pumped would be an understatement. We were keen as custard and ready to roll - even making it to the right boat ramp, and making it to the start spot on time!

But that's about the only good decisions we made that day, but it could have been completely different if only...

In the first 15 minutes or so we had 4 bites and one brief hook up, not putting anything in the boat and that was pretty much how the day panned out.

Every turn we made was wrong. Every brilliant cast was rewarded with nothing but quiet golf claps from the fish as the lures swam past on their way back to the rod tips unmolested. It was a tough day.

For the day we ended up with no legal fish, but some just scoring fish over the 45cm at 452, 510, 476 and 485. Plagued again in the afternoon by sub 45cm fish, there was one massive highlight and that was Kyle Dalrymple hooking into a 94cm monster on the flats fishing the Venom CrankBait PE2-4 and a Gidgee Lures Fatty Junior. This beast was hooked with only 5 minutes left on the clock for the day and was Kyle's first legal for the tournament! What an awesome way to start his scoring.

In a frustrating day we somehow managed to hold onto first place overall and the gap between first and 10th closed significantly.

Results: 1st with 21.3 points

Day 3 Dash for Cash

Session 1 Swimbaits and plastics only

We had a plan to throw a few Hail Mary's in the Dash as it's a tough couple of sessions. Our first one was to start the Dash trolling Bone Focus 130s in the main bowl. We'd prefished up a couple of fish and worked out the swimming depth of the Focus with a few different chin weights so we knew where we needed to be to have the lures in harm's way.

About 45 minutes into the session Banksy hooked a fish that turned out to be a legal, so we were pumped phase one had worked. We trolled back to the start area and were first back with a fish, giving us a commanding lead for all of 27 seconds before Kim Dankert measured in a beautiful 62cm cod!

The rest of the session we had planned to fish the Focus and a Flat Shad on the cast in some deeper water. In prefish we'd had a bit of success on the Flat Shad with some great scoring fish so we went in with confidence, but after an hour and a half without a bite, that confidence waned and the session expired.

Session 2 Any Sponsor Lure

This was an educational session - so says the guys who caught nothing but learnt things anyway.

The mad dash for the central flats on the lake was chaos and we hit a flat in the middle of the lake surrounded by boats on every other flat. The flat looked good and with the third cast I got hit but missed the hook up. From there we didn't really trouble the scorers but interestingly, Black Widow came onto the flat about 5 minutes after us and fished a slightly different line and then fished our 'dirty water'. I say dirty water because we had fished it, but we couldn't help but be interested in how this gun crew go about it. Meticulous and methodical is all I can say and we learnt the hard way about different ways to fish flats. On flats I am usually looking for active fish with 3-5 casts each angler at a snag. Thomas and Steve Pinter fished around a snag with exacting precision and, talking to Thomas later that night, we discovered they had landed three legal fish behind us. Now it's no real kick in the guts to be outfished by Black Widow and we loved having the chance to see them go to work in close-ish quarters. If you watch and listen, you'll learn a lot and we learnt a lot that afternoon.

Results: 4th with 23.77 points

Day 4 Any Lure day

Day 4, with us dropping out of the race for first, had Banksy and I looking to have a fun day on the water with numbers of fish in the bin and that's exactly how it transpired - as frustrating as it turned out to be.

But before we even started fishing, Shane and I earnt ourselves a very valid nomination for the F#*k Up Award. This award raises awareness for a deed not done so well and the recipient/s are required to wear a very loud sombrero for the night. Our misadventure came at the cost of a GoPro that belonged to the Hook, Line and Sinker crew. They had kindly asked us to film a few fish for their show and we agreed as we were no longer in the race to win. That was all good until we rounded a corner and the fold down middle seat of the boat decided to flip open at full throttle. A little black smudge flew past and out the back of the boat, splashig down in the wake 50m behind us. Yes we tried to go around and see if it floated (as if it was ever going to float!) and wasted at least enough time to catch another 43cm cod looking for the impossible to find. 

Anyway, if anyone is a diver and wants to check out the main river channel about 2km upstream from Majors Boat Ramp, there should be a GoPro 7 and clamp mount filming the water as it slides past!

Back to the fishing.

Over the course of the shortened day we landed 23 fish with 7 over 45cm and none over 55cm!

Our score line looked like this: 461, 467, 468, 469, 450, 477 and 490.

But the highlight and lowlight of the day was seeing an estimate 70cm plus cod just swimming across the flat and I cast a Zerek Infinity Blade spinnerbait about three metres in front of it. The lure was coming back on the perfect line and to be honest I was totally expecting a hit! And a hit I got, but the big fish was still slowly swimming towards the back of the boat! It turned out another bloody 43cm cod had nabbed the spinnerbait and as it started to do the tiny fish crocodile rolls, the bigger fish lit up and belted the living hell out of it four times before disappearing into the murky water!

We knew then that the Fish God's had abandoned us or thought they had definitely given us enough on Day 1! It was awesome to see in real life, but terrible at the same time!

Anyway, nothing to do about it other than keep casting. And to be honest I felt we really fished the flats much better on the last day than any other day, we just couldn't find that legal fish and in the end it cost us an overall position - even though catching 23 cod on any given day is ridiculous!

Results: 5th with 24.77 points


Over the four days of fishing Shane and I landed around 80 Murray cod! Let that settle in for a bit. 80 cod is an epic few days of fishing.

Our best lure was a spinnerbait and I don't think I'll ever match those first three hours of the 2022 Lake Mulwala Cod Nationals again.

It was brilliant to watch Kyle and Rick charge at the end and amazing to see Thomas and Steve take the comp out again with a three-peat. That is seriously an amazing effort in the top end company that fish this event.

It's a tough comp to fish with different demands placed on anglers every day and any team finishing in the Top 10 has well and truly deserved it and worked bloody hard for it.

Onwards to 2023!

Below is a full list of gear we used across the tournament:

Venom Crankbait PE2-4

Venom 7' 6kg

Venom 7' 8kg

Blade N Tails RLFBT13

Blade N Tails RLFBT12

Bone Black River 701ZH

Bone Expedition Snakehead, Sea Bass 734MH

Bone Voyage 704XXH

ATC Combat 100

ATC Combat V2 200

Zerek Infinity Blade Spinnerbait

Zerek Giant Ruby

Bone Focus 130

Zerek Flat Shad 5"

Zerek Flat Shad X 145

Mustad Armlock Spinner Bait

McArthy 5" Paddle Tail (for trailers in spinnerbaits)

Mustad KVD TG76 trebles

Mustad 36329 3x strong Ultrapoint trebles

Wilson FC leader (20lb, 30lb and 40lb)

***   Thanks to Tony Bennett, the entire volunteer team of helpers (Cherryl, Baz, Whippy), all the cooks and chefs and helpers, Mul Football and Netball Club for putting up with us and to all the other sponsors, thanks for making this comp the stand out Murray cod comp.   ***


Top 10 Teams

Place Team (Members) Points
1 Black Widow (Thomas Pinter/Steve Pinter) 47.24
2 Jones Doyle Plumbing (Rick Doylw/Kyle Dalrymple) 46.61
3 Team Wilson (Ian Rogers/Matt Rogers) 33.15
4 Humminbird/Minn Kota (Bryn Matthew/Brad Stockley) 25.05
5 Fat Betty (Stephen Booth/Shane Banks) 24.77
6 Shake N Bake (Mick Massier/Matthew Pejkovic) 23.51
7 Stumpy Obsession (Zac McGannon/Rhys Macreadie) 22.77
8 Team Garmin (Nathan Skeers/Mitchell Skeers) 19.095
9 Team K-D (Derek Blow/Kade Blow) 18.98
10 Dirty Sanchez (Jamie Kelly/Jamie Robinson) 18.3

Top 10 Individual

Place Angler (team) Points
1 Thomas Pinter (Black Widow) 5307.55
2 Kyle Dalrymple (Jones Doyle Plumbing) 3460.20
3 Rick Doyle (Jones Doyle Plumbing) 3369.40
4 Stephen Booth (Fat Betty) 2838.20
5 Bryn Matthew (Humminbird/Minn Kota) 2569.65
6 Jamie Robinson (Dirty Sanchez) 2533.40
7 Zac McGannon (Stumpy Obsession) 2498.20
8 Ian Rogers (Team Wilson) 2447.25
9 Matt Pejkovic (Shake N Bake) 2422.50
10 Matt Rogers (Team Wilson) 2168.70


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