Saturday, 6 December 2014

Some recent cod sessions - Winter 2014

This is the first post I have done in a long time. The summer fishing was so poor that it was hardly worth the effort of reporting. Most of my regular marks appeared to be devoid of fish, not just bass but the normally ever present small pollock at dusk were extremely rare. Fish were absent from a few deep water marks that I would normally expect to get some good pollock and wrasse over the summer and autumn. I spent a lot more time working in the garden this year, grew a lot of vegetables and had a good crop of potatoes plus lots of tomatoes and cucumbers from the new polytunnel that was erected the previous autumn. It felt a lot more productive to be in the garden than out on the coast fishing into a void. So with such poor fishing over the summer I was looking forward to the cod season and was hopeful that it would make up for the dreadful summer fishing and apparent total collapse of the bass stock.

Indeed it did, this year is proving to be one of the best cod seasons in a long time. There seems to be a multitude of cod about mostly in the 2 - 3.5 lb range with a few up to 4.25 lbs. So while fish are much more plentiful the better ones are smaller than those of the last few years. Last year I had a couple of 6.5 lb cod, several 5-6 lb fish and a number in the 4-5 lb range.

I had heard reports that the cod were already in for a week or so before I had my first session which was on the 24th October. I headed to a reliable mark and caught 8 cod all of which were keeper size (2 lbs or more) with the largest fish weighing 4.25 lbs.

Good fishing persisted; my next session was on the 28th October and produced 9 keepers including a few in the 4 - 4.25 lb range.

I returned the following day. The fishing was slow initially with a flounder and an eel caught before the cod showed up. I ended up with 7 keepers up to 4.25 lbs.

My next session was on 31st October and was a good one with a total of 25 cod. I kept 19 of those, most were in the range 2 - 4.25 lbs but also included a few smaller fish that were too deeply hooked to go back. There was a lot of seaweed as well that night and the following day my elbow was quite painful due to a combination of hauling in fish and large clumps of weed.

It took a while for my elbow to get back to normal so I didn’t do any fishing on the following weekend. Then we had some extremely heavy rain on 13th November and as a result there was a torrent of fresh water coming down the Blackwater which ruled out fishing for another four or five days until the flood subsided. My next session was on 18th November. The fish were back, although not in the numbers of my last session. I caught 13 cod, including 10 keepers.

I was back out again on 22nd November. It was a new moon with a bigger tide which made fishing more difficult. Shortly after setting up I had an eel but the fishing was slow after that with just a couple of small cod of a pound or so. However, when the tidal current began to ease off there was a dramatic improvement with another 9 cod, all of which were keeper size and included two of about 4 lbs.

I had five crabs remaining from the last session so headed out on 26th November to use them up on a short session. I arrived about 5.00 pm, it was quiet until about 6.00 pm then in the space of 50 minutes I had 7 good fish, all keepers in the 2.5 - 4.25 lb range. I put my last crab on, cast out and after a few minutes there was a strong tug. It felt a fine fish, at least as large as the 4.25 pounder if not bigger. I had it in close but then it dived into a snag. I couldn’t budge it so I left the line go slack for about 10 minutes before trying again. I pulled hard, thought I felt a bit of movement but then the line snapped at the shockleader knot. So that was the last of my bait and time to pack up.

My next session was on 29th November. The conditions were ideal; mild, calm night, slack tide, little or no weed and I had a bucket of 24 crabs so I reckoned it would be a good night. It was with a total of 30 cod of which 18 were keepers ranging from 2 - 3.75 lbs. There were plenty of fish in the 2 - 3 lb range but nothing above 3.75 lbs.

I had 10 crabs left over so I headed out again on the 1st December. It was not such a nice night, a fairly strong NNW/northerly wind with light rain was blowing down the channel. But that made little difference to the cod. I had 21 fish, kept 19 although I lost one of those to a fox that ambled along the shore, grabbed one and made off with it. That was fine, I had plenty of fish and didn’t mind sharing with a hungry animal. Close to packing up I had the largest fish of the night, just over 4.25 lbs and another 2 pounder a few minutes later.

For all sessions I was using 4/0 pennel pulley rigs (with upper 3/0 hooks) baited with whole fresh crab. I usually used two rods unless the weed was bad. When the fishing was hectic I would have one rod ready baited on the stand, haul in the fish on the other rod and then cast out the second. So I had one bait in the water at all times apart from the few seconds between changing over rods.


  1. I'm just getting into shore fishing, have not caught alot so great to get some good tips from your well written blog. I am a little surprised with this article though as you discuss a decline in bass stocks over the summer gone but then take home 80+ cod in a little over a month. I apologise if these fish support your family but I can't help but feel concerned with future stocks if this is typical behaviour of shore anglers. Thanks for the rigs and tips though, I'll beendue sure to try them if only to return my catches.

  2. i really love your blogs because its amazing and beautiful. keep posting more
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