Cod & Codling when does a codling become a cod? Well to a lot of people that would depend on if they catch it or their mate does! Or how close you hold it to the camera haha Lots of people will clash but the general consensus is that a cod is at least 6lbs or over and anything under is a Codling. With Cod in general showing up in fewer numbers in recent years due to trawlers purging the numbers unforgivingly cod numbers are seriously down.
Many people in power who should know better denied this but being a shore angler you’re on the front line and are a valid main link for information to be listened too. So I know a lot have certainly seen fewer cod over recent years and now cod has just had its blue tick removed as sustainable they have finally admitted we have been right all along. Luckily where I mainly fish in the Bristol Channel the cod numbers are better but that’s probably due to the trawlers not being able to trawl certain parts of the channel here. With last season being a belter and this year showing good numbers of healthy codling very early with some good sizes already coming out this year especially on the charter boats it's looking to be a lot more promising if you’re lunker hunting! So these great tasty gold bars how do we catch them? To catch large cod you ideally want large bait! Whilst cod will take a smaller bait chances are something else may snaff it too with large cod baits its simply the bigger the better!
The reasons being two fold, firstly with larger cod science has shown that they prefer to take a large bait instead of several smaller meals as it conserves energy for them and two a larger bait quite simply puts out a lot more stink and provides a scent trail to stretch further and in dirty water this is a massive advantage.
The advantage of a larger scent trail is larger cod don’t travel around in company like codling and tend to move out to deeper waters to feed a lot more on fish. Whereas the codling will stay together for safety in numbers and they will hoover up anything they come across... they are not called the sea pig for nothing! Let’s look at some common rigs used: All rigs with hook size on average are between 5/0 and 8/0 but it is down to personal preference and the size of the bait being used.
*Up and over rig: Good for distance casting with large bait and a longer hook length when on the ocean floor presents as a running ledger, keeping the bait on the bottom where it needs to be.
*Running ledger: As above but with a shorter hook length and not as streamlined.
*Pulley dropper rig: Again good for distance with a sizeable bait and keeps it harder on the bottom providing a better bait presentation, with the added bonus of no matter which way the current flows the hook length can flow easily that way as it can rotate 360 degrees and keeps the lead up in front of the fish on the retrieve.
*Pulley Pennell: Good rig for rough ground and can cast big baits further as it’s streamlined, when on the retrieve also keeps the lead up in front of the fish preventing snags. *Clipped down paternoster: Essentially a paternoster rig but clipped down for distance casting but keeps big baits tidy whilst casting out.
Although other rigs work and catch cod these are your most effective rigs. If fishing for codling a 2 hook flapper or normal paternoster rig are just as effective with smaller baits on with hooks between 1/0 & 4/0