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.
P-cod are typically found in 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 are 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.
Regardless of the other colors in your tackle box, always include a selection of white scampi jigs. They are visible at just about any depth and is a natural color found on many baitfish. Most charterboats offer rods rigged with various colors. Go for the white jig, you can't go wrong.
Note that the use of artificial light is growing in popularity, and is proven to help you catch more fish. This is particularly true of ultraviolet lights. Lights come in various sizes and are secured to your line in the vicinity of your lure or bait. These lights are not only an attractant, they can restore natural colors to your offering.
Terminal Tackle for Halibut, Lingcod, and Rockfish
Gear commonly used to catch halibut and rockfish works very well for pacific cod as well. There is no need for special rigging.
- Extra-large 10" scampi-type jig tails (2 white, 1 black)
- Medium 8" scampi-type jig tails (2 white, 1 black)
- Jig heads w/ hook (2 ea. 8oz.)
- Jig heads w/ hook (2 ea. 16 oz.)
- Kodiak Custom jigs (2 ea. 6oz., 10oz., 14oz., assorted colors)
- Swivels, large corkscrew-type, 12 ea.
- Circle hooks, size 8/0 - 16/0, 12 ea.
- J-hooks, size 8/0, 6 ea.
- Braided wire leaders, 18" heavy-duty w/Sampo ball-bearing swivels, 4 ea.
- Cannonball sinkers, 3 ea. 10oz., 16oz., 1.5lbs.
- "Hoochie" plastic squid lures, 8", 6ea. assorted colors
- "Crippled Herring" jig lures, 5oz., 2ea. in chrome, nickel/neon blue back, and pearl white.
- Sabiki Rigs for catching bait herring
- Hook file/stone