How to Catch an Atlantic Cod

How to Catch an Atlantic Cod

An Atlantic Cod can easily be identified by their lateral line and spots. They are a brown-green color with a white belly. The flesh is flaky with a mild flavor. A Cod can grow to over 200 pounds but the average is about 50 pounds and is about 51 inches in length. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) considered the Cod a ‘vulnerable fish’. Along the shores, Cod is becoming increasingly rare. The reason is that they are starting to move further into colder, deeper waters. 

If you are a novice angler, fishing for Cod is not a fish you should target until you become a little more experienced. The reason is that you need to cast a longer distance than the average person if you want to catch a Cod. A Cod fish does not tend to feed or hunt near the shore. If you are not a good caster, then you need to venture onto a pier or rocks in deeper waters to fish for Cod.

Where to Find an Atlantic Cod

You can find these fish both offshore and inshore. Offshore, they like areas that are not out in the open, such as near rocky areas, near wrecks, or anywhere in the ocean where there are good hiding places. Inshore, you will find Atlantic Cod in the areas of a jetty, dense rock, or even in kelp or logs that would offer them protection. W

hen looking for something to eat, they appear to be a relaxed fish. They are generally not aggressive toward their prey. Instead, they will wait for their food to come to them. Cod like hiding places because the current usually draws in the smaller fish that they like to eat. Visit to learn more about the harvest of Cod.

How to Catch an Atlantic Cod

You can get much better results catching Cod at night because at that time the fish feels it is safer to come closer to the shore, when it is dark. They also come closer to the shore when the sea is murky and there is an offshore wind. You can get good results when there are spring tides because Cod like to use the ebb and flood tides to get their food.

Cod prefer the deep water ,so if you can fish in deep water off a pier or take a boat or charter to deeper waters, you will stand a better chance of catching them. Cod will generally inhabit water in depths of 200 to 1,300 feet so it is easier to catch this fish if you can fish from a boat. If you regularly fish for Cod and find a good spot to catch them, it is most likely their feeding spot. They are a creature of habit so they will go back there to feed so it is likely that you will continue to catch Cod in that same spot when you go fishing the next time.

Best Bait for Atlantic Cod

When looking for the best bait to use to catch Cod, the larger the better because they can be big fish. The bait they are most drawn to is octopus, clams, mussels, and shrimp. You can also use sea worms or most other live baitfish. If you use smaller bait, make sure that you put more than one on a hook because you want to catch a large Cod, not a smaller one. Larger Cod tend to bite on a more appetizing bait. They also prefer live bait.

If you fish for Cod in the winter, it may be hard to get live bait so you can keep some frozen bait in the freezer, like peeler crabs, squid, and prawns. To make sure that Cod bite on your line, put it in the water for twenty minutes and then reel it in so you can change the bait to make sure that you will always be using fresh bait. 

If you do not have fresh bait you can use artificial bait. Two of the most effective artificial baits for Cod are:

  • Tube jigs — these are plastics baits that are hollow and cylindrical. Inside you put a scented sponge to attract the fish. The plastic is not very heavy so you have to make sure that it will sink to the bottom, where Cod live and not just float on the water surface.
  • Diamond jigs — this is the best artificial bait to use if you are trying to catch a big Cod. This artificial bait is inclined at 45 degrees so it can catch the fish efficiently.

Make sure that when you are putting bait on your hook that you do not cover the barb of the hook. When it is exposed there is a better chance to catch a fish. I try to leave a little piece of bait hanging off the hook in order to attract the Cod.

Best Lures & Tackle for Atlantic Cod

In regards to lures and tackle, the best setup to use for catching Cod will vary from angler to angler but there are some ways that will help to ensure that you will catch Cod. For starters, you will need a good 50-pound class rod that is five to eight feet long. The line should be 30 to 50lb braid. The reason is that because of its lack of stretch, it will help to indicate to the angler that there is a fish or something on the line. Fishing with braid is a more sensitive feel than monofilament.

Using a braided line of this weight, you will need 16-ounce bouncing sinkers, which will work well on the deep floor of the ocean. Depending on the tide, you may have to change the weight of your sinker. A Cod fish is attracted to noise so try using a jig with a jingle or rattle on it.

You can also use:

  • 25-30 pound line for rough ground
  • 12-18 pound line for sandy ground
  • Hooks between 1 and 6/0 but it all depends on the bait that you are going to use
  • The weights that will help you to cast farther distances are 5-6 ounces

When you are fishing on rocky marks, make sure that you have some break-away weights. These weights give you a better chance to retrieve snagged rigs that have been caught on the rocks. 

Tips and Tactics

  • If the sea is not rough, you should look for white water near gullies or rocks. You do not have to worry if the white water is not deep because Cod can hunt for their food in shallow water.
  • Because Cod may come close to shore, try using two different roods. Use a short-range one and one that is long-range. This way you can fish in two different ways. It gives you two chances to catch Cod at the same time.
  • Cod does not like clear water so make sure that your fishing location has muddy or dirty areas of water.
  • Make a bait cocktail, such as squid and lugworm, because Cod likes combination bait. If you are not catching any Cod, try a different type of bait or move to a different spot.
  • If you are not good at casting, it is advisable to learn or take casting lessons, before you go Cod fishing.

How to Cook Cod

Nothing tastes better than fresh cooked Cod, either pan fried, baked, on the grill, or over an open fire while on a camping/fishing trip. Here is just one of many grilled Cod recipes that you can try. After you have cut your Cod into filets ¾ to 1 inch thick after cleaning, it is time to make the sauce you put over both sides of your fillets before you grill them.

To make the sauce, you heat in a small pan:

  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil

Once this has simmered for a couple of minutes, brush each side of your fillets with the mixture. Grill the fillets on a greased rack directly over medium coals on an uncovered grill for 8-12 minutes. The Cod is done when it starts to flake easily. While grilling, turn it once and brush it occasionally with the mustard mixture. You can serve it with simple vegetables like carrots, broccoli, or grilled potatoes.

If you are at home and want to bake your Cod, take your fillets, about an inch thick and pat them dry with a paper towel until they are dry before you season them with pepper and salt. Next, you mix the following ingredients together before putting them into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Once these ingredients are in the pan, put the Cod fillets in the dish between the vegetable mixture and bake in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for 15-20 minutes. The fish needs to be opaque and flake easily. Serve it with the vegetable mixture and some of the sauce from the baking dish.

Vegetable mixture:

  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 lemon sliced
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed but not peeled
  • 1  ½ cup of cubed potatoes
  • 1 ½  cup of cut up carrots

Atlantic Cod Reproduction

When the female lays their eggs, there could be as many as five million and they hatch after 8 to 23 days. They reach their sexual maturity between the ages of two and three years and spawn in the spring and winter. Their eggs are released on the ocean floor and are vulnerable as prey to other marine species but also vulnerable to waves and wind.

Predators of an Atlantic Cod

The only real predators of Cod are humans and whales. 

Fun Facts about an Atlantic Cod

  • Until a Cod reaches about six pounds, it is not considered a Cod, it is actually called a Tommy Cod or codling.
  • The Cod that is generally caught by a shore angler only weighs about three pounds so in this case, they have caught a codling.
  • As they grow, their food intake increases as it switches to a fish diet and starts to move offshore.
  • The two common species of Cod are the Pacific and Atlantic
  • On average, the Cod lives for 15 years.


Fish is very healthy food to eat and Cod has proven to be very beneficial for those that are suffering from heart disease. If you catch and eat Cod, know that you are doing something good for your body. Remember when fishing for Cod that the best time to do this in the evening, especially if you are going to do inshore fishing. This is the time when they are closer to shore. You also have a better chance of catching Cod right after a storm. The reason is that the storm has churned up the water and the food that a Cod eats settles on the seabed. The Cod will swim to that area to feed but will most likely choose your bait since it is right there instead of looking around for it.

Also, you need to remember to make sure that you have the right weight of lines, hooks, and weights. When you follow this guide it will help ensure that you have a great time fishing for Atlantic Cod and then eating them.

If you enjoyed this article, check out How to Catch a Mutton Snapper.

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