Big cod can be caught from all coastal waters of the British Isles, both from boats and the shore. Being a greedy fish it can be caught on a variety of baits and tackle. Kent and East Coast cod, for example, feed mainly on lugworm, while farther west squid and mackerelstrip are used as the most effective bait. To catch cod consistently one must know and understand the baits and rigs which are most effective in the various localities. Large black lugworm are best fished on a one or twohook paternoster rig.
Secrets of success
The paternoster allows the worm to hang clear of the sea bed in full view of the hunting cod packs. Squid and fish cuttings work well when presented on runningledger tackle. A singlehook ledger is recommended, but many successful cod anglers fish with one or two flyers above the main hook. The argument against the multihook ledger is that most of the cod that take squid or fishstrip baits tend to be heavyweight fish and the combined weight of these fish—two or even three 20 lb cod at one time—would make a tackle breakage almost inevitable.
In northern waters cod, or better still codling, can often be caught in vast numbers on large whitefeathered hooks. These are basically an enlarged version of the standard mackerel feathers. Codsized feathers can be very effective, especially when each hook is tipped with a slice of mackerel or squid strip. Cod feathers can be fished by lowering to the required depth and then raising and lowering the rod tip just as with mackerel feathers.
Anglers first realized cod were attracted to whitecoloured objects when hundreds of cod were found when gutted to contain pieces of plastic cups thrown from crossChannel ferries. Experiments soon proved that white feathers and spoons gave the angler an advantage.