We are reaching the peak of the cod fishing season, a time when beach anglers are out all hours hoping to enjoy the year's best fishing. This article, brought to you in association with Sea Angler, sets out to help you improve your catches by talking about rigs, baits, sea fishing tackle, tides and weather.
The first rule of cod fishing is to find the fish. Lots of sea anglers rarely see, let alone catch a cod because they do not fish cod marks at the right time. The best cod venues are relatively well known, but it is a combination of season, weather and tide that dictates the presence of the cod.
A common problem is fishing a venue after hearing tackle shop rumours, often days after the actual catch, which may have been exaggerated anyway, and when the cod will be long gone. You are better off checking the tide and weather for the venue, when the fish were caught, and returning when conditions are similar.
|Shore Fishing for Cod|
Look to go fishing when the conditions are most suitable. Cod is a shoal species and consistent in their behaviour. They move with the tides and weather in search of food, and taking advantage of what nature provides. The angler has several vital clues as to when and where to fish for cod. During daylight hours cod will rarely venture inshore in shallow, clear water where bright sunlight penetrates to the seabed.
It is only in very deep water, thick kelp and rock that you will find fish in these brighter conditions. It is during darkness and a flooding spring tide that marine life becomes more active. This is when cod and lots of other species move inshore searching for food.
A strong onshore wind that stirs and colours the sea often attracts cod inshore during daylight as they search for any marine food the rough sea has disturbed or killed. Obviously, different wind directions suit different regions of the coast, with anything onshore usually favourable.
Standard beach casting tackle is all you need for cod fishing. Anglers wishing to fish through the worst weather are advised to look for a beach rod capable of casting 6-7oz. This is because heavy lead weights punch through the wind and are best for towing large baits.
|Leeda Icon M-Sport Match 13ft10 6oz|
|Penn Surfblaster II Fixed Spool Reel|
|Penn 515 GS Mag3 Multiplier|
|Pennell Pulley Rig|
Hit the Tide Right
When cod fishing, you need to hit the right tide because fish may only be present for a while. The peak time for catching cod often coincides with the strongest flood or ebb tide. The fish seem to favour a particular time during the high or low tide, or when a change between two tidal directions occurs.
|Edinburgh Tide Chart|
In lots of cases, venues have a hotspot that can be a feature, such as a beach point where tides meet, a gully or sandbank, a weedy reef or large groyne. So don't just be drawn by the mark's reputation - search out the likely hotspots for fish.
Cod have huge mouths and can engulf large baits, so there is no need for small sea fishing hooks and neat baits, although there is an important relationship between bait size, presentation, and casting distance.
Do you cast short with a large bait that will attract fish to it, or cast long with a small bait that has a limited scent trail? Compromise is the answer. Match the bait to the conditions and err on the large juicy side when possible.
Lugworms and squid are the two best baits, either together in a cocktail or on their own. One lugworm does attract the attention of the smaller species like whiting and can be torn off the hooks. A whole Calamari squid will last longer and is perfect for bigger cod.
|Welsh Black Lug|
So in essence, Cod is a shoal species and consistent in their behaviour. They move with the tides and weather in search of food, and taking advantage of what nature provides. If you plan carefully by looking at the tide patterns, fish cod marks at the right time, and use the right baiting strategy, you won't be wasting your time chasing shadows.