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Winter Cod Fishing Hints and Tips

Marsden Beach, South Shields, Tyne and Wear – a fantastic cod mark along with the surrounding  areas
Beautiful Dunstanborough located in Northumberland close to the castle which is a popular tourist attraction
Beautiful Dunstanborough located in Northumberland close to the castle which is a popular tourist attraction

Born and bread on the NE coast of England, we really are spoilt for choice with cod/codling, both winter and summer. When the conditions are right and the opportunity arises to target cod from the shore, knowledge plays a big part in how your session could plan out. Certain baits have advantages over other baits depending on the area your planning to fish, bait changes can help target bigger spawning cod November – February, my favourite choice for this time of year is cart, bluey, herring, cuttle fish and squid all bound into a cocktail.

Beautifully present crab cart baiting
Horse mussel which unfortunately humans can’t eat however these are deadly attractive to cod

Early season September/October, personally I find freshly gutted black lug, live black lug, fresh or frozen peeler crab or soft backs work extremely well over clean to mixed ground which can be found in the below image along with large fresh blow lug and mussels. Which cod could ever resist this fine bait, well of course unless there is no cod there!

The above image show an October cod caught in flat seas over heavy ground at a mark known as the target located in Ryhope. For anyone who is unfamiliar with this mark, I highly recommend going with a local who knows how to access the cliffs. Early season hungry cod look for pretty much most baiting especially during or after a storm!

Best conditions to target cod/codling
Here in the NE of England stormy conditions/rough seas are the best time to go on the hunt for some prime fish, winds from the North, North East and South East are usually best! Darkness is another great factor giving fish confidence to move into the shallower hunting for pretty much anything they can find.
Daylight can still be very productive during or after a storm given that there is plenty of colour in the water, daylight fishing tends to be best in deeper water.

!!As seen on the below slide, some of the marks are not easily accessible. Although I am showing these marks in my post, myself and Limitless Sea Fishing ltd cannot take any responsibility for anglers who do try to access these marks. We recommend that you ALWAYS seek local advice or guidance especially if you are not 100% confident!!

Rigs, tackle, lines and rods
When it comes to rigs when targeting cod I rarely switch; simple pulley pennel rigs when fishing over clean and mixed ground, no fancy bling components or bait clips. I simply use a lead with a built in tattoo needle which I cut down to my desired size and simply bend it (creating my bait clip). The same goes for rough ground fishing apart from I rarely use a pennel hook, instead a single hook with a length of paper clip wrapped round the shank, see photo. 

This is a funny one, personally I think it’s down to personal preference, that goes for brand, length, reel position, what reel you use, what ground you fish and if you use mono or braid. My advice would be if your casting style isn’t great, get some lessons or go for a through actioned rod using the conventional “overhead thump” style of cast this works extremely well with a continental style rod. 

As for other rods (don’t want to bore you to death) if you fish clean to mixed ground or rough ground for that matter, try a friends rod before making a mistaken purchase, some advice I can give is if your using braid something with a nice through action with a sensible tip even the softest of rods will accommodate most fishing scenarios when using braid, this is down to the zero/minimal stretch in PE line.

Whilst using mono over clean to mixed ground, think of what you will mainly be casting out and also what you mainly target ?. Some anglers prefer longer rods whilst others prefer a shorter rod again this is personal preference. Myself personally would use a powerful rod with heavy line over mixed/rough ground with a leader.

Big Cod Baits
Come November – February the big female spawning cod are looking for that three course meal haha. I tend to find big cocktail baiting’s mounted on 4/0, 5/0 and 6/0 occasionally even 8/0’s when I’m feeling lucky, any fish baiting’s combined (bluey and herring being my favourite) along with mussels, razor fish, edible crab (cart), squid and even cuttle fish, all great meals for them big spanner’s.

Where to find them?
The first few rough seas can make weed/summer growth a pain, this usually clears up after a big storm. During storms deep gulleys surrounded by outer rock scars are great for lobbing your chosen bait in, beach marks with gulleys and features can be a great option too. On a dying sea the likes of piers (not really my thing) deep tidal marks are all worth a look.