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Home » Tournaments-and-Events » Prepping for the 2022 Cod Nationals

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The 2022 Cod Nationals pressed the go button in early January and with some uncertainty still in the air, we committed to fishing the comp again.

I love the Cod Nats.

It's on Lake Mulwala, it's fished by like-minded anglers, it's fished by a bunch of legends, it's the single most friendly comp I've ever fished and I get to fish it with Banksy!

As much love as I have for the Nats, once we committed, the overthinking and preparing begun.

What I'm going to do here is give you all a bit of a look into our preparation for the comp. What we think is important, where our gaps are and how we decide which of the 3 million lures we have between us we take.

Let's start with the easiest one first - the lures.

The Cod Nats has different sponsors on different days and this means if you catch a legal fish on a sponsor's lure, you get bonus points. In essence they are gimme points starting at 0.49 points per legal fish on Day 1 and dropping to 0.46 points per legal fish on Day 4. For instance, if you catch 5 legal cod on sponsor lures on Day 1, you'd get a bonus 2.45 points to your tally. I'd kill to land five legal fish every day - just sayin...

So using sponsor lures is important to the overall finishing position of the teams.

Day 1 traditionally is Bassman Spinnerbaits and a rolling door of other spinnerbait manufacturers year to year. So with that in mind, I prepare all my Bassmans for the trip down south.

Day 2 is hard body day and last year saw Pimped Up Lures sponsor along with Gidgee Lures. I have plenty of both of these so every single Pimp Daddy I own and every single Gidgee form the tiny Fatty Junior to the largest Cod Cruncha and Barcoo are all packed.

Day 3 has two sessions with session one being swimbaits only and session two being sponsor lures only. Swimbaits are easy with Banksy landing the biggest fish of the comp last year on a Bone Focus 130, all of my Focus lures were packed, plus a bunch of Zerek Live Swimbaits and Live Mullets as well as the big Zerek Affinity - the big fish magnet!

Session two takes care of itself for lures as you can only use sponsor lures and I make sure I have these all packed.

Day 4 is any lure day and last year it was sponsored by Zerek. This means I get to use the Infinity Blades, Giant Rubies, Live Swimbaits and Live Mullets, Flat Shads (and this year the Flat Shad X) and any other of the 50 Zerek lures we sell. Having a spinnerbait and a hardbody in the range that are reliable cod catchers is a massive bonus.

So overall I end up with about 200 lures of which I will likely use 10 for the comp, but that's fishing!

As we find out on briefing night, there are always a couple of new sponsors, so I drop into Lake Mulwala Fish Camp Ski and grab a few of each. Likelihood of using them? Pretty low but I will have them, I will have them all!

Fishing outfits

This is the next important part of the equation. What rods and reels am I fishing all these lures on?

I take about half a dozen outfits to the comp and take two rigged and a backup each day. Keep in mind, in NSW they still have the crazy rule of two rigged rods only. I'm yet to see a lure caster fish three or four rods at once - anyway...

The first consideration is for spinnerbait fishing. The coathangers are still the most popular and likely the most successful fish catchers in the comp. Day 1 last year saw 131 cod (50 legal) landed as opposed to the swimbait session that saw only 37 cod (12 legal) landed. Yeah the swimbaits get big fish, but if it's numbers look at the spinnerbaits.

I like a 6'6" - 7' rod that is rated around 4kg for fishing spinnerbaits - especially if I am targeting 55-70cm fish, which are easier to target than the meteries! I fish 20-30lb braid and a 30-40lb leader and in all honesty, I have not been wiped out at Mulwala fishing this tackle. Yeah it's going to happen I know and I'll hate me for not using a 6kg or 8kg Venom with 40lb braid and 60lb leader. This year may be different though with rumours of vicious weed growth in most of my spinnerbait haunts, so we all may be fishing a little lower in the system, which means a little more depth, which means slightly heavier and larger spinnerbaits and that means a slightly heavier outfit! We'll have to wait till we get to scout the lake to make the final calls.

Hardbodied lures I tend to fish on a 6'3" or 6'6" rod and again about that 4kg mark. If we go deeper this year and I need to throw bigger lures (or dare I say troll!) the 6kg 7 foot Venom or even the 8kg can come out.

And speaking of those two big boom sticks, swimbait day will see the 6kg and 8kg Venom come to the front of the pack. Smaller lures like the Focus 130 on the 6kg and the big daddies on the 8kg.

The final day is the hardest as you can fish anything so we tend to have just about every rod on the boat rigged up with Mustad Fastach Clips so we can change over quickly.

So here are my proposed outifts

Bone Black River 701XH, ATC Combat V2 200, 20lb braid

Bone Expedition 368BEC734MH, ATC Combat 100, 20lb braid

Venom CrankBait 6'3" PE 2-4, ATC Combat Plus 200 with 30lb braid

Bone Voyage BVC684XH, ATC Combat V2 200, 30lb braid

Bone Voyage BVC704XXH, ATC Combat Plus 200, 30lb fluorocarbon

Venom 6kg 7', ATC Combat Plus 200, 40lb braid

Venom 8kg 7', Daiwa Tatula HD, 50lb braid

I guarantee I will take at least two more spare rods in case of disaster, but they'll stay in the room unless needed.

Accessories are important to process fish quickly and we have this down to a fine art these days. Firstly, you need a big net. It's no point having a butterfly net when any given cast can be 120cm of green fish, so we take the largest folding net and replace the original netting with a replacement silicone net. This fits 120+ cod in it - God I hope we do that this year!

We also take a range of Mustad tools that include the MT116 Mustad HD DL Hook Cutter in case we need to snip anything like a hook or a spinnerbait, the MT117 Mustad Green Straight Nose Pliers for removing hooks, the MT120 Mustad Braid Scissor for cleaning up knots and a pair of either ATC Casting gloves or Mustad Fish Handling gloves because I hate cod thumb!

We also take a range of different leader material from 20lb up to 60lb in both mono and fluorocarbon. The Wilson Shock Leader and FC Shock Leader are brilliant and of course we take a couple of packs of Mustad Fastach Clips in sizes 3 and 4. I don't like retying leaders when I have a good one, so a Fastach Clip means I don't have to shorten the leader every time I change a lure - wait, hang on, I rarely change a lure, but you know what I mean.

Gear wise that's about it, but the mental game - well that's another whole story.

I'm not big on badgering my mates for info on the fishing. A few tips here and there is great when you haven't fished the lake for a year, but drilling them all for info just seems wrong. Important info like the level of weed infestation, the flow rates and water colour all need to be seen first hand. I say this because in previous years, other competitors have straight out lied about conditions, which is just stupid because you end up seeing it all first hand anyway, so I just don't bother talking about it anymore.

Bansky and I spend the first half of the day when we get there driving around and looking. Sure we'll have a chuck in some spots, but most of the time, the half day is about cancelling areas out, or excitedly adding them in to the milk run on comp day.

But the mental game starts well before we get there with Google Maps and Chartered Waters giving me vital clues on places to 'check out' in prefish. Find the maps where the lake is drained and look for the fallen logs. If you can find a bunch of good looking laydowns in close proximity, you have an hour or two of fishing in a small area. This year I spent a fair bit of time virtually wandering over the flats and checking depressions, laydowns, piles of snags and channels in the bottom half of the lake.

I know the lake fairly well but every single time I flick around the Charted Waters maps I find new things to highlight to check out. The maps for the lake being drained are now getting a little old at about 2009 vintage, but the insights are amazing! Even after 30-plus years of wandering around the puddle I am finding new locations to try.

The mental game also extends to the lure prep. While I grab every single lure I need, I talk to Banksy constantly about matching trailers to skirts in spinnerbaits, what weight chin weights we'll need, how we'll approach certain things on particular days and, most importantly, who we are going to buy in the Teams Calcutta! This last one is super important as I've been lucky enough to have a winning share in the Calcutta twice and been in the money another two times for minor placings. Not too bad for five events!


We need to relax and be confident that we've done what we can do when the comp arrives.

With this year's event being the first time Banksy or I have fished for cod since last year's comp - thanks Covid you rock - we need to simply enjoy the fact we are cod fishing on Mulwala and not go chasing the locals who have been fishing and prepping for months.

It's no coincidence that the comps you have the best fun at are the comps you end up doing well in. Sure we have some goals, but in the end it's just a comp and if it's tough for us it'll be tough for most everyone, although there are always a few teams that have it wired.

So keen!

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