True Tales of the Trout Cod:
Historical Information on Native Fish

A large amount of historical information was collected on the native fish of the Murray-Darling Basin. The primary aim of the project was to collect historical information and identify the original distribution and habitat preferences of Trout cod and, secondarily, the other large native fish species within the southern half of the Basin. This section provides an analysis and summary of all the information collected.

Murray Trout in the Yarra

Argus, 8 September 1898 (article excerpt)

The fish referred to in your par. of yesterday as having been caught at Dight’s Falls is what is known on the Murray as a Murray trout. It is closely allied to the Murray cod, but does not grow so large, and its habits are different. The cod is a sluggish fish, feeding on the bottom of rivers, while the “trout” frequents the most rapid portions of the stream, and feeds near the surface.

I have frequently observed them rising at flies and other insects in a similar manner to the English trout – hence the name it has acquired. The particular fish under notice is the largest I have seen caught on a rod, and its weight is probably due to the fish being full of spawn. These fish were introduced to the Yarra about 10 years ago, and many of them have been caught at all points between Melbourne and Healesville. I myself caught one of the same species five years ago near Heidleberg, weighing 3 1/2lb.

The markings of the cod are stripes on a greenish ground, while the trout is speckled on a blackish ground; besides this, the formation of the jaws of the two fish are distinctively different.

– Letter to the Editor

Albert Roberts (left) and John Cooper hold a ‘rock cod’ weighing 58 lb. (26.3 kg) caught in the Murray River at Bruces Bend near Yarrawonga in 1952. Although not conclusive the body shape and the relative length of the head and upper jaw suggests that it could be a Trout cod.

A Reconstruction of the Historical Distribution & Abundance of Trout Cod in the Southern Murray-Darling Basin

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Learn more about the following range of Native Fish from the True Tales of the Trout Cod book chapter.