Pacific Cod

Pacific cod (gadus macrocephalus), also known as grey cod, are the wallflowers of the Alaska saltwater sport fishery. Known locally as "P-cod", they're often passed over in the pursuit of more glamorous species, they are frequently tossed over the side, cursed as an inconvenience, or used as bait for other species. Even Alaska's saltwater fishing regulations fail to dignify them with a mention or even a bag limit, relegating them to the "other fish" category. But cod have a couple of things going for them that anglers should note. First, they are good table fare that can be prepared in a variety of delicious ways, and second, they are readily available, often in schools numbering in the thousands. As a testimony to their food value, they are a tightly-regulated and valued commercial fishery.

Pacific cod taken off Kodiak Island, Alaska 

P-cod are typically found large schools, suspended in mid-depth, but they are often encountered on the bottom by anglers seeking halibut or other species. They're aggressive feeders and don't seem to be particularly finicky about what they'll take. Scampi-type jigs are very effective, as is herring and octopus, two common baits used for halibut. Double hook setups will often yield two fish; they're easy to catch.

In some areas of the state, cod are known to have intestinal parasites. These worms (anisakis nematode), are common whitefish parasites and are easily removed before cooking. To remove the worms, simply hold the skinned fillets up to a light and pick them out with tweezers or needle-nose pliers. Because the worms are mostly found in the gut cavity of the fish, it's easiest if the fish can be cleaned immediately after being caught. Otherwise, worms can migrate out of the abdominal area into the surrounding flesh after the fish dies. If the fish is cooked properly, the worms are harmless to humans. But humans can contract anisakiasis by eating raw or undercooked pacific cod in the form of sushi, sashimi ceviche or other dishes that do not involve cooking the flesh. Don't eat raw cod!

In short, P-cod can make the whole day when halibut or salmon fishing is slow, they offer fast action and provide an excellent way to round out your freezer with healthy, delicious seafood.