Stuffed Murray cod in pubs

Bridgewater Bridge Hotel (Peterdownunder – Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Hi all Murray cod lovers, we are just getting underway a new project to find – and describe information related to – stuffed Murray cod in pubs around the Murray-Darling Basin. It is part cultural heritage, part environmental history and part biology. And it could be a lot of fun. But we need your help.

There are few concrete examples of past environmental conditions associated with our rivers in Australia, yet scientists, managers and conservationists are desperate to understand how things have changed, especially since European settlement. One obvious example, however, is those trophy fish which people used to – and in some cases still – love to display on the walls of their favourite watering hole.

Important information on past Murray cod

What possible information could they give us?… you may ask. Well, it depends. For some stuffed fish, there is just the fish, and in thP1100959at case, there is not a lot we can do with it. But most trophies have the name of the angler, sometimes the date and even where it was caught. If we have location and date, then there is a lot of potential to get some interesting information – assuming there are enough of them around.

  1. Firstly, to have dates, sizes and locations of trophy fish would be an important source of data about what sorts and sizes of fish were being caught in the local rivers at particular times in the past.  Any information about the date and location of the catch will give us insight into what was there historically.
  2. Secondly, relating the size of the trophy fish to when it was caught may give us an idea of how the idea of what was a ‘trophy-sized’ fish changed over time. And that may relate to how common or rare big fish were in the past – if really big fish are rare, then fish that are not quite so big will become trophy fish.
  3. Lastly, for those interested in such things, a map of the Murray-Darling Basin pubs that have trophy Murray cod on their walls, could be quite useful. We are sure that pubs with several large Murray cod on their walls would be attractive places to visit for the keen fisher!

So, what can you do?

If you know of a pub (or pubs!) anywhere in QLD, NSW, Victoria or South Australia within the Murray-Darling Basin that have stuffed Murray cod on their walls (actually, any fish would be interesting), then leave a comment here or email me – Paul Humphries – the name of the pub at the following email address:

Or you could join a new Facebook group (stuffedmurraycodinpubs) I have set up for the express purpose of sharing information about stuffed Murray cod in pubs. You can find it by clicking here. It is under construction, but I hope that it might be a good way to keep the information current.

We can then get in contact with each pub and see if they have any information relating to the fish. We promise to keep you informed through this blog as to the progress of the project.

Thanks in advance, Paul Humphries, Keller Kopf and Nicole McCasker

PS: for more on large Murray cod, see my previous posts Biggest Murray cod: fact or fiction? and Update to biggest Murray cod story.

This entry was posted in Fish Ecology, Freshwater fish, Historical ecology, River research and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Stuffed Murray cod in pubs

  1. Pingback: Biggest Murray cod ever caught: fact or fiction? | River Ecology and Research

  2. Hi Paul, sounds like a great idea. Unfortunately I can’t help with Murray cod (but I’ve shared the request with a few fishing mates), but I wanted to ask if you know of any studies that have succeeded in extracting DNA from trophy fish? I am involved in conservation genetic research on a highly endangered freshwater Atlantic salmon population in Finland, and I’ve been trying (unsuccessfully) to extract DNA from trophy fish that we caught prior to all spawning grounds being destroyed by damming in order to compare to the (very low) level of genetic variation observed today. Something similar could be an interesting follow-up in your Murray cod work too.

    Craig Primmer (Geelong ex-pat)

    • Hi Craig, thanks for spreading the word. I don’t know of any work that has extracted DNA from trophy fish, although, depending on how they have been treated, I suppose it is possible. We have a couple in our lab that were donated to me some time ago. I suppose we could have a go at that. I’ll keep my ears and eyes open and let you know if I find something that might help you. We did think at one stage, that otoliths might still be in some fish, but I am beginning to doubt that. It seems that the taxidermy process removes all that sort of material. Such a shame, because what a record if they were there! Onward….

  3. robbibt says:

    Hi Paul, just contacted Barmah Hotel down near Barmah-Millewa forest where I did some fieldwork earlier this year: they have one!

    • Hi Robbibt, thanks very much for this record. I have started to put a Google Earth map together, with the locations included. I will post this at the end of each week (when there have been significant numbers of pubs identified), so stay tuned. Thanks again, Paul

  4. Joanne Ocock says:

    hey Paul,
    What about hardware stores?! I know of one in the store in Warren! Actually, pretty sure it’s a cod, will check on that for you. As I recall it’s pretty big! And I imagine the old guy behind the counter knows exactly who-what-where for it too. I’ll let you know if it definitely is a cod, and hopefully that’ll be of some use to you and the project.

  5. Cindy Doherty says:

    There’s a pub in Rochester (Shamrock Hotel I think) with a big Murray Cod head and I think one in the Mitiamo pub as well. We did a road trip from Quambatook to Mooroopna and it seemed pretty much every pub along the way had a Murray Cod head on the wall.

  6. brendan says:

    There’s one at stanhope hotel motel

  7. Ash says:

    Dingee. Gunbower. Lockington. Torumbarry

  8. Mark says:

    Yep, there is one at the Nangiloc Tavern. Dated and weighted 🙂

  9. The Pub in Ashford has quite a collection.

  10. Sara says:

    Rand Hotel has two or three

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