It is very likely that at some stage most of us have eaten Cod. Be it from the local chippie or as a fish finger. Cod has long been the favourite fish supper of many British families. It's pleasing to know that here on the South Coast that Cod can be caught almost all year round. Even when not targeting them a stray Cod can often be caught. In the main we target Cod in two distinct periods.
In the summer it will be drift fishing over Wrecks and Reefs using artificial lures, and in the Winter months we tend to fish for them at anchor with baits consisting of Squid, Cuttlefish, Peeler crab and Lugworm.
Rigs to use
Whilst most rigs will catch fish, using the "right" rig can often produce better results. For the targeting of wreck and reef cod many favour a simple boom style arrangement. Numerous rig styles can be found by visiting planetseafishing.com. or by performing a google search for wreck cod rigs. The overriding factor will be to keep it simple. Rig losses on wrecks can be numerous and the simpler the rig is kept the better.
Lures are the "Bait" end on wrecks and reefs, where a jigging motion is used to stimulate the fish into attacking. Lure styles and colours all come down to users' preference. A particular style, a particular size and always a "Favourite" colour.
Always watch what the anglers around you are using and doing. If a particular rig style, hook length and lure colour is working for someone else, then be prepared to change and adapt. It is well known that Cod will often show a preference for a particular colour lure. A good choice to start with is Orange. When fishing reefs where Brittle stars are inhabitants often Orange will be the only colour that catches. Brittle stars are orange. Coincidence? No, it's that the cod have honed into the abundance of food being orange.
There is less science involved with fishing for Cod at anchor, and likely a lot less tackle losses. The favourite rig for fishing in the Solent for Cod is a running leger, with a hook length of between 3 to 6ft. The preferred hook format being a pennel rig.
Different anglers will prefer different hook sizes, but you will not go far wrong with using 6/0 to 8/0 hooks. I personally prefer bigger the better. Even a 10lb Cod you can fit your fist inside its mouth and not touch the sides. Experiment with different hook lengths and again, watch other people and see what is working for them. Very soon you will find you have developed your own preferences.
Baits for anchored fishing can vary. The Cod has attracted the nickname of "Mud Pig" it needs little explanation as to why. The Cod will at times be caught on any bait, and they are not shy to take large bait offerings. The most popular winter Cod baits are without a doubt Calamari squid. Cuttlefish, Peeler Crab and Lugworm. All of these are firm favourites, and responsible for the bulk of Cod catches each winter in our waters. Keep it simple, refresh your baits regularly, watch others around you and be prepared to change tactics and you will likely be rewarded with your target species.
When it comes to tackle, rods in the 20-30lb bracket are most common and well suited to the job. They are most popular for a reason! Reels need to be substantial enough to be hauling potentially record-breaking cod up from 200 feet whilst its very likely these may be interspersed with some very angry and able Conger Eels. For this reason a suitable reel needs to be in the Daiwa Saltist 30 / Sl30SH - ABU 7000 size range. These days there are so many good reels available it's not just down to manufacturer, but retrieve ratio, star drag vs lever drag, counterbalanced reel handles etc.
If you are new to fishing we have hire rods and reels available and will ensure the equipment supplied suits the fish target species we are after. If you have your own gear but are new to targeting Cod be it from wreck or anchor then please call the skipper to chat through the requirements.
There are numerous websites around where great advice, tips and help can be obtained. A couple of favourites to get local free advice, tips and help from are the Facebook groups "Solent Boat Fishing" and "Solent Beach & Boat Fishing".