How to catch Cod

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My guide on how to catch Cod & Codling from the shore.

Hi there, the following information is a guide to help you catch cod around the coast of the UK. First a bit about me, but dont worry i will keep it brief. I was born in Brighton and have lived there most of my life. I fell in love with fishing from an early age and have fished for some 25 ish years. I mainly fish harbours and beaches now but also have a fair bit of knowledge with boat angling. The majority of people who go fishing are friendly people, and  chatting to others is the best way to learn about how to fish in your area.   I have opened up a small shop on ebay called bits&bobs4sale. I am doing this for a bit of extra cash of course, but also because i enjoy making up good rigs that work and that will help people enjoy this sport as much as i do.

Now a bit about the species..

Cod is the head of a large family of fish including pollack, haddock, whiting, pouting, coalfish & many more. Cod is mainly a cold water fish and is spread out widely across North Atlantic, North Sea & up to the Artic. The good news is that they can be caught all around the British coast when the weather starts to get colder.

Cod begins to mature at about 4 years. They spawn in mid winter well out to sea in deeper water. A big fat female can produce a massive 10 million eggs. So it just shows what a dent trawlers do to these fish! Cod grow at a fast rate, in 3 years they can be 4lb and in another couple of years they can be in double figs. Cod that are under about 7lb are called codling but still a good catch.

  3 Codling hooked at dungerness beach in Kent.

 "Or are they plastic & mounted to the side of my house""

Cod are big eaters and are not fussy. They have a very large mouth and will eat everything. Offshore they eat mainly herring, sprats, sand eels and pout. Inshore they feed on crabs, shellfish, and any small fish they can catch. If you look in the stomach of a 5lb + codling you will be surprised what you find. A mixture of fish, crustacceans  and even the odd bit of plastic and metal can be found (no number plates though, its not jaws).

How many months are they around are shores?   Day or night?    Weather?

October is normaly the time to start on the beaches, but it does seem to be getting later, and a shorter season, as global warming kicks in. The beaches that have recently just been catching small pout and the odd stray bass begin to come to life as the water cools down. You can easy spot the cod beaches as they come to life with lamps and glowing tip rods and the smell of parafin tileys. If you get a cold winter that lasts, the cod can still be around as far as Easter. Cod/ Codling like steep beaches made of shingle like Dungerness in kent.  This is my favorite spot for cod however it is a bleak place but a very busy area for fishing.  Night time is the best by far in my opinon for the cod/codling.  Dungerness/ Kent.  "Don't forget your woolies if you go here"

The best weather for catching them is a cold night with a fast high tide. The sea is a murkey brown. This is when the most food is in the water and you will catch them in numbers if you follow the rules (day & night).

Rods, Tackle, Casting, What how??

There is a lot to take into account when fishing for Cod, the weather, tide strengths, time of year, location, you name it, loads of factors, but what i will do is try to keep this a little basic for now and add some more details as time goes on. First of all if you are fishing from a storm beach you need a sturdy rod and reel. You will need to be able to cast upto a 6oz sinker + bait over 100yards. So its worth getting some practice in. When i started fishing i used to go to a local field and praticed there with a 12 foot beachcaster and a abu 6500c & a 7000 series. It did'nt take long for me to be emptying out the reel on the 6000c with every cast. It is worth doing this as cod beaches can be busy and a fast and furious place in rough seas. A good quality leader line is also a must about 35- 40lb. The main line can be 20lb. Once you have chosen your spot, Set up and mark your ground with a tripod or mono pod. Before you cast out a long way you need to have a few practice casts. This will help a great deal as lines tangle more when they are dry. Once you are ready, walk 30-60 yards up tide from your spot depending on how fast the tide is running and the wind speed. Then let it rip! Take up the slack as you walk back to your rod rest. After a couple of min you should be lined up straight and ready to kill.  If and when you score take, your time to bring it in using the waves to help. Don't rush as a strong wave pulling against you could rip out the hook. Also loosen the clutch a little more when the fish hits the surf.

 The rigs to use also varies a great deal the first thing do is get organised. Have a mixture of rigs ready at all times. I always have a extra rig hanging from my rod stand, ready baited. I do this for one simple reason if you hit one cod you can be assure that it is not alone as they hunt and feed in groups. You can often pick up 2-3 codling in no time at all if you are in the right spot.

Depending on the conditions there are various rigs the first one that i will explain is the Paternoster. This is the ideal rig to use in  october and november. These 2 months often are rough seas and the sea has large amounts of drift weed which can drive you mad. This rig is quite simple and therefore catches on less weed. Aberdean hooks are also good at this time as the cod are smaller and are more likely to be hooked on these flexable sharp hooks. I would recomend sizes 2/0 & 3/0 loaded with a couple of large fresh black lug on each hook. Use a 2 or 3 hook rig to start and move down to 2 or 1 hook if you are picking up too much weed. When the bigger cod/ codling are about it is best to use a 1 hook rig and pile on the bait as to spliting it up into 2 or 3. 

 A bit to rough, but perfect colour.   Mustard Aberdean- Razor sharp ideal for the smaller codling and whiting.

The next rig i am going to talk about is the 2 hook tandem live bait rig. Sometimes standard baits just don't cut the mustard. This is caused by the baits being to small or the fact that there is so many pout in the water the cod are too busy chomping on them. The larger the cod the more lazy they get. They demand so much food they will always go for a large pout or whiting as to digging about for a few worms. When you are constantly catching pouts and whiting on a paternoster rig (stealing or your bait) this is the time to swap over.

The rig comprises of a size 4/0-6/0 O'Shaugnessy hook or similar forged hook from which a small trace of 30lb line about 3 inches long. This  hangs below it with a 1/0-2/0 Aberdean hook. The aberdean hook is loaded with bait (but not the O'Shaugnessy) and casted out as far as possable. In no time hopefully you will pick up a pout or small whiting. Perfect you now have a live bait swimming around giving off distress signals for the bass to home in on. They will take the pout and there large mouths hopefully will come down over the other hook. "Bingo"

    Simple live bait set up. from the top hook runs a trace of 30lb (length around 80cm)  to a swivel. Then from the swivel a trace of about 1m with a largestop bead another swivel threaded through (which you attach you reel line to and finally a snap swivel to where you add on your sinker. This allows the live bait more freedom in the water.

The rigs that i have explained here are avalible from my shop + many more. The prices are fare, The rigs are well made and i use quality goods. Please check out my feedback for assurance.  I have many valuble customers now that keep comming back for more..

I will continue to add to this guide over the next couple of weeks as we get closer to the season. Thanks for reading. I hope what i have added so far is of some help. If you would like any Questions answered please contact me through my shop as i am always glad to help if i can, cheers for now...

Below is the link to my shop.   Please dont forget to tick the box at the bottom of this page if you have found this guide of some help to you.

I have also written a guide to bass fishing which you may find interesting.

Thank You!













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