Cod or otherwise known by their Latin name as Gadus Morhua are the most targeted fish in the English Channel. There are several ways to catch a Cod. The most popular way is to drift over a shipwreck by using the tide. When we go Cod fishing we use lures like shads and sidewinder lures.
We find that the Cod can be found in the front of the wreck or high above or indeed well down tide, especially when the tide is running hard. When Cod spawn it is around January to April and they peak around February. This takes place between Rye and Brighton areas off the Sussex coast. Cod can also grow at a fast rate in the deep waters. We go Cod fishing on the drift out on the deep water wrecks during the months of January and September, but February tends to produce the best results as this is the prime time.
The Cod come in from the east side of the English Channel slowly making their way to the west. Cod also like to congregate around a wreck as there are smaller fish to eat around the superstructure. The biggest Cod caught in British waters went to Noel Cooly back in 1992; it weighed 58lb 6oz, which was a boat record.
WRECK FISHING FOR COD ON THE DRIFT
When we go wreck fishing for Cod we use the tide to drift us over the wreck. We would then run back up the tide going around rather than over the wreck and then drift back again over a different part of the wreck. We go around the wreck so that we do not spook the fish. When we are drifting we fish for the cod using wreck fishing lures.
This is called the ‘gilling’ technique. We use a long trace about 8 to 15ft attached to a lure bait, which is then attached to a boom and an 8oz lead. While drifting over a wreck we wind the lures up and down approximately 20 to 40 turns. It all depends on where the Cod are swimming around the wreckage. When you have a Cod pluck at the lure do not stop winding until you are sure it is hooked.
PIRKING FOR COD
We use the tide as we would for drifting with lures but another way to catch Cod over a wreck is use ‘pirking’ for Cod. A pirk is a chrome bar with a treble hook and a muppet on the end. To use this pirk you have to drop it down to the bottom and then pirk it up and down. When the wreck is coming up, you have to lift the pirk up and over the wreck (it depends on how high the wreck is would determine how high to lift it up) or you will snag it and lose your tackle.
Pirk sizes range from the smallest being 12oz up to the biggest being 20oz. You can also use a ‘hokkie rig’, which has 3 hooks above the pirk, which maximises your chance of catching a Cod. The heavier pirks are for getting down to the seabed quicker when the tide is running hard. We also find that when you are fishing the deep water wrecks, baiting a pirk can also work well for catching Ling.
FISHING FOR COD AT ANCHOR
The other way to catch Cod while offshore wreck fishing is to anchor. We do this by anchoring up tide of the wreck and then drop Cod baits up tide of the wreckage. This works well in the months of May to October. The bait we would normally use would be cuttlefish or squid, especially the small cuttlefish seem to work well.
The tackle we would use is leads of 1 to 2lb on a leading sliding boom, and then a swivel attached to 8.0 hook. We would normally use a trace equivalent to that for Congering, which is 200 to 300lb mono, as the Cod and Conger swim together on the offshore deep water wrecks.
WINTER COD FISHING
Through the months of October to January, we would normally fish inshore. This is because the Cod come off the deep water wrecks at this time of year. We then enjoy fishing off ledges or mussel beds and really rough ground. At this time of year the Cod come inside to spawn.
The way we fish for Cod at this time of year is to anchor up and fish with baits such as lug worm, squid and cuttlefish. We even use lug and squid baits together as cocktail bait which works well.
A lighter rod and reel are required, such as a 20 to 30lb class rod and a smaller reel with mono or braided line. The end tackle is a lead connected to a boom with a trace of around 8ft long and we use a 2 hook rig called a penal rig.
COD FISHING TIPS
1) When gilling for Cod with lures you must keep winding in a steady motion. If you hook a Cod, it is important to keep winding, do not stop as they sometimes just pluck at the tail of your lure. The Cod will take the lure in its own time.
2) Make sure that your clutch is set, so that when you hook a big Cod it can take plenty of line rather than snapping you up.
3) Always keep the pressure on when playing a fish and do not give it any slack line as it can spit the hook out on you.
4) If your lure is not working on the day, try some different coloured lures, or if someone else is having more luck &endash; check out what lures they are using.
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