Cod fishing article by John Staten
Cod are the one fish, with maybe the exception of Bass, that really stir the primeval hunting instincts in most of us fishermen. We can't wait for the winter to start to set-in with the frosts and dark nights turning every fishing trip into a possible Utopia of fishing. Most of us would probably sell our souls to the devil for a 'personal best' caught Cod!
As the water temperatures start to decrease in the autumn, and we excitedly await those early frosts and Northerly winds to stir up the sea bed, most of us are like kids waiting on Father Xmas to deliver our 'prezzies'!
Most will have built up a store of bait over the summer because THIS Cod season is going to be OUR season...oh, yes!
We know that if all goes to plan then we should be able to fish as often as we want over the next 5 - 6 months and catch a reasonable amount of fish for the table with cod being the main stay.
With a few exceptions cod will appear around our coastline at most venues. The North East, East Anglia, Kent, North Wales, Cumbria and most of Scotland will produce large numbers of cod over the winter months. Unfortunately, the bigger cod of the late 60's and 70's have all but disappeared and have ceased to be caught on a regular basis. The cod caught nowadays tend to be on the smaller size, a 5lb cod is considered in most places to be quite good, where as, in the 60's, 70' and even the 80's, a 5lb cod was really 'run of the mill.'
A lot of the cod that get caught, especially in the N/East are caught over rough ground and in the most inaccessible places you could imagine. If climbing down 300ft cliffs, carrying your gear and using a rope to make sure you don't fall to your death appeals, then that is the place to head. You will require a good solid cod rod for use at these spots to force the cod out of the rough ground and kelp. A rod with a soft action would be no good at all.
You can catch double figure cod in these places but unless you have a guide, someone who knows these area's like the back of their hands, then stay well away! Plenty of beaches still fish well for cod and Norfolk and Suffolk are no exceptions.
One great place is Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast, one very steep shingled beach and very deep water in places but the whole area will produce very good cod over the winter months. Cod into double figures are not a rarity here. You must be prepared to walk across deep, energy sapping shingle for around an hour to access the best and deepest places though. Of course the trek back when you are tired, weary and probably carrying a couple of double figure cod can just about put you in an early grave. As some of the local's call it, 'Heart Attack Alley' and for a very good reason!
On a personal note, I have a good friend who went cod fishing up what they call 'The Wall' a few years ago now on his own and did actually suffer a heart attack. He lay on the beach for 45 minutes on his own and then managed to get himself to hospital, but not before making sure all his gear was packed away first! Well you do have to get your priorities right, as the late great Bill Shankly said about football "the sport is not about life or death - it's much more important than that!"
The south coast area's like Deal, Dover and Folkstone fish very well over the winter months and can produce some superb sport over summer which will include the likes of double figure Smoothhounds, Bass to nearly double figures and over at times, with lots of dogfish and other species. This month (November) has produced a Cod to 8lb off Deal pier already. More of the same can be expected if the conditions are right. Deal pier is a popular spot to fish but is only open overnight on a Friday and Saturday and can be fished up until 9.45pm on all other days. It is very snaggy, expect to loose a lot of gear. It should be slightly better now as it has been dredged down the length of the pier but as I was told, it only managed to loosen some of the snags and didn't get rid of all, so still expect to loose some gear.
The cod fishing in the Bristol Channel produces well but unless you know the area it's not recommended you venture too far, the tidal range is tremendous and the speed of the flooding tide has caught many a person out.
South Wales doesn't seem to fish very well for cod over the winter. I have a friend who doesn't do too badly for cod over the winter around the Cardigan Bay area but he fishes aboard his own boat using 'jigs' for catching his favourite species. North Wales, Cumbria and right around the Scottish coast do produce some cracking cod at times.
Just as an update for this winter 2010, cod seem to be very scarse around the coast so far this year and we are nearly into December. There are ample amounts of Whiting but very few codling being caught. All along the east coast, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex and around the south east coast Folkstone, Deal, Dover, Dungeness etc they are really sparse in numbers.
The only places seeming to do well are the North East, South Wales and the Bristol Channel area's.
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