Gadus morhua - Cod

Phylum: Chordata - Class: Actinopterygii - Order: Gadiformes - Family: Gadidae


Cod like cool water, and so for anglers they are an autumn and winter quarry. They are shoal fish and make long migrations to reach their spawning grounds.

Cod have three dorsal fins and a single barbel under the lower jaw. The colour varies from brown to grey depending on habitat, but the upper body is invariably mottled.

In early September the codling usually appear just off the shore. These are small fish of typically 1/2 to 2kg (1 to 5lb).

The best fishing is usually at dusk and into the early hours of darkness. When shore fishing in fast tides you will need a powerful beachcaster, strong line and heavy grip lead, with a 2/0 or 4/0 hook baited with several lugworms or a piece of squid or fish strip. The key to successful boat fishing is to keep the bait right on the bottom.


The common cod can grow to 40kg (90lb), but any fish of a quarter that size is considered a good catch from British waters. The Bristol Channel, and particularly the Barry Island and Sully areas, are noted hotspots for cod in Welsh waters. Big cod - fish of 5 to 15kg (12 to 35lb) are less likely to be encountered in inshore waters until October or November. (The Welsh rod-caught record cod weighed over 44lb (20kg). They are voracious feeders and so large baits on a single hook are recommended.

The legal size limit (which for this species coincides with the NFSA recommended size limit be;low which fish should always be returned) for cod is 36cm (14 inches).

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