Cod (Gadus morhua)

Average Weight

Big rod-caught cod can weigh 14.50 Kg (32 lbs) or more. The average cod weighs around 5.45 Kg (12 lbs).

Also known as

Codling and Atlantic Cod

IUCN Status

VU – Vulnerable


The cod has a large head with a bulky, brown-green or olive-green body which can be flecked across the sides and back, the area that the cod has lived in affects its colour, with weedy areas giving a brownish colour. The upper jaw overhangs and there is a projecting barbule on its chin. It has a sizeable mouth with small sharp teeth.


So how do we catch one?

Best Baits

Cod is a great catch because you can use almost anything! Cod will go for and digest all natural baits – whole fish or fish strips, lugworms, ragworms, sandeels, shellfish, crabs etc.


The cod is an autumn and winter visitor to most coastal areas of Britain, although it can be caught off Scottish coasts throughout the year. In northern waters, cod can be caught from June to March. In southern waters, cod shoals arrive around October and leave around February.

Favourite Feeding Places

The cod favours deep waters where they scour the seabed for food. Cod shoals roam mercilessly in search of rich feeding grounds, once they find a food source, they consume as much as they can before moving on.

Best Locations

Cod can be caught across all British waters and is particularly prevalent in northern and eastern waters. If you want to go BIG cod fishing, the West Country waters above sunken ship wrecks, and around Isle of Wight in Hampshire are the best areas.

Best rigs for cod fishing

Shore fishing

If fishing from the shore for cod, a basic leger rig or a simple paternoster rig which is cast into deep water will work well.

Basic Leger Rig

This rig is used to lay hookbait on the seabed. The distance between the hook and swivel can vary, but should be at least 300 mm (1 ft). This rig works so well because your line is able to pass through the weight’s “eye”, meaning that shy or suspicious fish can tug the bait without instantly sensing the resistance.

Simple Paternoster Rig

This rig works great when you want to present your bait just above the seabed and move with the current. The distance between the weight and split ring can vary, but should be at least 300 mm (1 ft). Likewise, the distance between the hook and swivel (free running on main line) can vary, but should be at least 150 mm (6 inches).

Boat fishing

If boat fishing for cod, a boat leger rig is effective for catching cod.

Boat Leger Rig

This is one of the simplest and most effective rigs for boat anglers. The space between the hook and swivel can vary, but should generally be about 1 m (3 ft). The bait is presented on the seabed and the line is able to move through the boom without hitting the weight which would otherwise scare off a bait-biting fish.

Top tips

  1. Big cod feed actively whilst the tide is changing, either flowing out or rushing in, cod are most active when the sea is rough.
  2. Look out for gulls diving at shoals of sprat, cod won’t be far behind!
  3. Use large bait. Cod have a large appetite, a 4.5 Kg (10 lb) cod can easily consume a 1 Kg (2¼ lbs) whole fish AND a couple of sprats just as an starter before the main meal!