Cod, Malabar

(Ephinephelus malabaricus)

Commonly referred to as Malibars or Cod!

Malabar cod are an impressive, large species that will readily take most baits and lures in a variety of Northern locations. They are capable scrapers armed with serious spines and plenty of small, sharp teeth. Most Malabar are encountered whilst trolling deep diving, hard bodied lures or live baiting for Barramundi in northern inshore reef and estuary systems and are often confused for estuary cod. Like most estuary cod species the malabar begin their lives as juveniles inhabiting warm, northern estuary systems before migrating to deeper offshore waters to reek havoc as larger specimens.


Malabar cod can be located throughout W.A in waters as far south as Shark bay up to as far north as the magnificent Kimberley region. They are also commonly encountered throughout northern Queensland and the northern territory.


Malabar cod like most cod species are slow growing and can reach a maximum length of up to 120cm weighing as much as 25kgs. Most Malabar’s encountered around northern Australia average around 6 – 8kg.


Malabar cod prefer a variety of habitats from shallow, murky, mangrove systems to sheltered in shore and offshore reefs with water depths ranging from 1 – 40 meters.


Malabar cod have typical cod shaped bodies with small, light grey/white blotches and larger light to dark brown blotches which almost resemble bars toward the rear of the body. Malabar can be easily distinguished from other similar cod by the small, black spots appearing on both the body and head of the fish. They have large, powerful jaws full of tiny, sharp teeth and an enormous paddle tail. Small red spots are also present throughout the pattern on the fish.

Taste rating

  • Thirty Taste Rating

Malabar are considered to be poor eating along with most large cod species and should be quickly released upon capture.

Sport rating

  • Sixty Sport Rating

Malabar unfortunately do not fair too well in taste or sporting categories and are often frowned upon by anglers targeting more appealing northern species.

Tackle requirements

Medium to heavy bottom fishing combos spooled with 30 – 50lb braided, nylon or gel spun  lines are required for landing large cod. Smaller specimens are easily managed on lighter spin and bait cast combos spooled with 20 – 30lb lines and are generally encountered whilst trolling deep diving lures for Barramundi etc. Leaders are always necessary for stretch and abrasion when fishing with braided and gel spun lines with one to two rod lengths of  60 – 100lb proving ideal for most cod angling situations.

Recommended baits, lures and rigs

Malabar cod are not fussy and will aggressively feed on most baits and lures from live/dead, whole mullet to pieces of cut fish, squid and octopus as well as a large variety of hard bodied and soft plastic lures. Most rigs will prove successful for malabar cod fishing depending on the location.

Handy hints and tips

Always use a set of lip grips to help land these beautiful fish as placing your bare hands and fingers into their sharp, trap like gills and jaws is seriously not recommended!

Preferred fishing times and tides

Malabar prefer slack water stages and calm water conditions such as full high or dead low tides. After dark is also a good time to target Malabar cod with live baits and surface lures in the shallows.


[What The Fish]