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Atlantic Cod

Atlantic Cod

Scientific Name: Gadus morhua


Common Name: rock cod

 

Atlantic cod are distributed throughout the North Atlantic, with well-known stocks situated in the area of the Grand Banks and Georges Bank. Smaller stocks exist closer to shore in southern New England and in the Gulf of Maine. In coastal New Hampshire, codfish of various ages are found near the Isles of Shoals, and both juveniles and adults are caught along Jeffrey’s Ledge. Cod can occur from surface waters to depths of 1,200 feet, depending on life stage and season. Most frequently they are found at depths of 200 to 300 feet, living within a few feet of the bottom.

 

codAdapted for bottom feeding, cod inhabit rocky bottoms, but may occasionally feed on herring in the water column. Codfish in the Gulf of Maine spawn during February or March, and all females are mature by the time they are 23 inches in length. The most distinguishing physical characteristics of cod are the three rounded dorsal fins and two equally rounded anal fins. The head is large with a blunt snout, large mouth, and chin barbel. The body is marked by a distinct lateral line that is pale in color and arched over the pectoral fin.

 

codColoration varies with the surroundings, but is often dark brownish- black dorsally, with yellowish to bronze marbling on the sides. The back and sides are also marked with many brownish-reddish spots and the belly is invariably white. Average size of codfish caught near shore ranges from 6 to 12 pounds; occasionally anglers may encounter 20- to 30- pound adults.

 

Catching Atlantic Cod: Most cod-seeking anglers fish on offshore grounds from private or party boats using fresh bait or jigs with teasers. Opportunity exists, however, for anglers to catch this fish from shore, as well as from boats in near-shore waters. Popular baits include clams, sand eels, squid and shrimp. Cod fishing is at its best in spring and fall when water temperatures are changing. Diamond jigs and other jig-type lures are effective hardware for catching cod.