How to catch cod from the shore

How to catch cod.

Cod are becoming increasingly rare along our shores as they move further and further into deeper and colder waters. Once these fish reach around the 3lb in weight they are large enough to be caught in boat nets and that is when you really start to notice a dramatic drop in numbers over that size.

Cod can be found in the winter months so they are an attractive option when other fish have left our shores for warmer waters. Some places and people call cod below 5lb-6lb'codling'.

This is not an easy choice

This is not a fish to target if you're a novice angler. You need to be able to cast longer distances than the average person to stand a chance of hooking one. They don't tend to hunt or feed near the shore.

If your casting isn't that great then you need to be fishing from rock marks or piers so you're fishing in deeper waters.

When to fish for cod

Fishing at night can achieve much better results because they feel safer coming closer to the shore in darkness. Saying that they will also come closer to the shore when there is an offshore wind and also when the sea is murky.

Spring tides can often achieve good results. Many fish use the flood and ebb tides to obtain a good supply of food.

What will you need to catch cod?

  • A 12ft-15ft Beach Caster rated to cast 5oz - 8oz weights
  • A strong shockleader line, up to 60lb
  • Option #1 - 12-18lb line (sandy ground)
  • Option #2 - 25-30lb line (rough ground)
  • 5oz-6oz weights to enable you cast maximum distances
  • Hooks between size 1 and 6/0 depending on bait being used
  • The best and freshest bait you can buy (live bait if you can!)

Best baits to use for cod

  • Peeler Crab
  • Rag worm (especially white)
  • Lug worm
  • Squid

In winter months it can be very difficult to get hold of live bait, espeically worms. It is worth keeping a frozen supply of baits like squid, peeler crabs and prawns for those times when live bait is difficult to obtain.

Keep the line for around 20 minutes and then reel it in and change the bait for fresh bait. Don't keep any of the old bait on, just replace it.

Rigs to use

This is all down to personal preference. You can buy ready made cod rigs which range from the very simple to the very complex. Ideally you want two hooks on a seperate line from the weight to enable it to flow freely in the water…

Cod Rig example

For this type of rig I would strongly recommend an impact shield which will hold your hook and bait when casting and will release them on impact. Very useful when you are long distance casting!

Impact shield

If you're fishing rocky marks you should buy some break-away weights which give you a better chance of retrieving snagged rigs.

Breakaway weight for fishing.
A breakaway Weight.

Cod catching tips

  • If the sea isn't rough look for white water near rocks and gullies. Cod can hunt in very shallow water so don't worry if the white water isn't that deep.
  • Try using two rods, one long range and the other short. Cod can come very close to the shore so try doing both at the same time.
  • If your location has any dirty or muddy parts of the sea aim to fish those parts. Cod don't like clear water.
  • Cocktails of bait (like lugworm and squid) can work really well. Don't stick to one type of bait if nothing is happening.

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