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     For those brave souls who venture into the cold winter ocean the Atlantic Cod awaits their offerings!  This fish has a light flavor and is used in many popular fish dinners!  Fish being essential to many diets.

     Presented here is general information of Atlantic Cod, its reproduction, habitat, food, fishing season, angling tips, handling and cooking.
  • General information:
    The Atlantic Cod is native to most of the North Atlantic Ocean. In the northwest Atlantic it inhabits waters from western Greenland south to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and is most abundant from the coast of northern Labrador to the Nantucket Shoals region off Massachusetts. Cod are easily distinguished from most other marine fish by their three rounded dorsal fins and two anal fins that are mirror images of the second and third dorsals. They also have a prominent barbel ("whisker") on the chin. Atlantic cod occasionally reach lengths in excess of 5 to 6 feet. Off shore cod tend to be larger than inshore ones, the former frequently reaching sizes of 25 pounds and 40 to 42 inches in length while the latter usually weigh 6 to 12 pounds and measure 27 to 34 inches in length.

  • Reproduction:
    Both sexes usually reproduce for the first time when 5 or 6 years old. The fecundity (number or eggs produced in a given year) of females increases with size and age. A 40 inch female may lay about 3 million eggs, and a 50 inch female up to 9 million eggs in one spawning season. The Atlantic cod is a winter spawner. It reproduces from November to December along the coast of southern New England. Spawning takes place at depths of 3 to 350 feet, with the greatest activity occurring in about 200 feet of water. Adults inhabiting inshore areas generally move offshore to reproduce. Larvae measuring 0.2 inches hatch from 10 to 40 days after spawning, depending upon the water temperature.

  • Habitat:
    Atlantic cod live in a variety of habitats but generally are found at depths of 200 to 360 feet and in temperatures ranging from 34 to 46 degrees F in the summer and a depths of 295 to 440 feet and in temperatures of 36 to 39 F in the winter. They are seldom found deeper than 660 feet. Cod undergo seasonal migrations in the more northerly and southerly reaches of their range in the northwest Atlantic. Those fish inhabiting polar waters in the summer and autumn migrate to more southerly and deeper waters in winter and spring, while fish summering in Nantucket Shoals region overwinter along the New Jersey coast. Fish inhabiting the region between coastal Nova Scotia and Cape Cod do not exhibit predictable seasonal migrations. Some move considerable distances in search of food or in response to overcrowding at certain spawning grounds, but generally adults remain within limited areas of uniform physical conditions. Cod do not swim about in large schools but they do travel in small groups when searching for food.

  • Food:
    The smaller bottom dwelling cod feed mainly upon small crustaceans such as shrimp and amphipods. Adults will eat almost anything small enough to fit into their mouths, including clams, cockles, mussels and other mollusks, as well as crabs, lobsters and sea urchins. Adults also pursue schooling fish, eating substantial numbers of herring, capelin, shad, mackerel, silver hake, young haddock and other species. Voraciously pursuing a variety of potential food, cod will occasionally dine upon some very exotic items; ducks, shoes, jewelry and rope have been found in the stomachs of captured cod.

  • Fishing Season:
    Year round

  • Angling Tips:
    Many anglers fish for cod on offshore grounds in private or party boats.  A 7 1/2 to 9 foot medium to stiff rod with a conventional (bait casting) 4/0 reel is required when pursuing this species offshore.  The reel should be spooled with 40 to 50 pound test Dacron line for jigging or monofilament for bait fishing.  When jigging, a 10 to 20 ounce Norwegian style jig is popular with either a treble hook or a single 10/0 or larger hook that has a red surge tube over the shank.  Jigs should be tied to about a 1 foot piece of 40 to 50 pound test monofilament leader fastened to the Dacron with a black swivel.  The lure is completed by attaching a red, green, black or white tube teaser worm on a large 8/0 hook to the swivel.  Such a rigging resembles a large fish chasing a smaller fish, an effect that causes many fish to strike at the teaser being "chased" by the jig.  When rigging for bait, a commercial "Scotsman" or double hook cod rig can be used attaching an 8 to 20 ounce bank sinker to the bottom sinker clip.  A large piece of sea clam covering the hook seems to work best.

    In the early spring cod can be fished inshore using a smaller rod and conventional reel spooled with 15 to 20 pound monofilament line.  Instead of a "Scotsman" rig a homemade one can be easily assembled.  Pass the end of the line through a fish finder then attach a black swivel to it. Use snelled 3/0 to 6/0 hooks, attaching the loop end to the swivel.  Attach a 4 to 6 ounce sinker to the fish finder.  Again a large piece of sea clam covering the hook works well.

  • Handling:
    Cod should be bled, gutted and iced immediately after capture to retain their delicate flavor. If they are iced in a large cooler the melt water should be drained occasionally so the fish do not soak in warming water.  If they are iced in a boat fish box, remove the fish box's drain plug.

  • Cooking:
    This flavorful fish can be baked, broiled, poached, fried, made into cakes or chowder or salted for long term storage without loss of flavor or nutrition.
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     The remaining links to the right have my Boating, Fishing, Knot Tying, Fish Fileting and Tackle Tips pages.   Following those are my Search Engine pages, one with short descriptions and another in a table form, plus my Research Page.  Last but not least, is my Doll House Gallery featuring the Farmhouse and The Garfield!  These keep me busy in the winter.

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