Pacific Cod

Saltwater Fishing - Helping you catch that fish of a lifetime

Pacific Cod

by Geoffrey English

Pacific Cod (Gadus Macrocephalus)
The Pacific Cod (Gadus Macrocephalus), also known by fishermen as the gray cod, is known to live along the Western coastlines of North America.  The fish are known to travel as far north as Alaska and as far south as Santa Monica in California.  They can be found from the Bering Strait all the way to the Yellow Sea, and have been seen as far east as Asia.  However, this species of fish is mostly found between Oregon and Alaska despite its expansive range. 

The Pacific Cod is easily recognizable by its grey and brown colored skin, and small scales all over its body.  It is also known for having three dorsal fins, each of which are separate from one another.  This fish has two anal fins and whiskers on its lower jaw. There are brown spots all over the fish’s body, the fins are brown, and some are lined in white.  The pacific cod is typically a small species of fish, growing only to about three and a half feet in length, and a maximum weight of around 40 pounds.

The Gray Cod has a reproduction cycle like most fish.  The spawning season is usually during the winter and into early spring.  The peak spawning months are January and February. Once the eggs have hatched and the fish are old enough to rejoin their families, the schools will welcome them willingly. They don’t discriminate against members of their spawning community.

Pacific Cod is a white flakey meat that makes for a fantastic dinner.
The fish are normally caught at depths of 20 to 50 meters, but they have been found in waters over 800 meters in depth.  They are known to be bottom dwelling fish, meaning that the Gray Cod lives mainly on the ocean floor.  They have also been known to be found on the upper slopes of the ocean floors, though not as often. The Pacific Cod is a school fish, living and traveling among other fish. This helps the younger, or smaller of the species survive since they can use the school as protection against large predators.

Most fishing techniques for catching Pacific Cod include the use of cut bait and other smaller fish.  There are really not set baits for this fish, so anglers should be prepared to try just about anything. Because of recent exploitation in fishing for this species, Pacific Cod are highly regulated.  Longline fishing methods have created a threat on the survival of the species, and fishermen have to crack down on their techniques. The species is also losing its habitat because of human interaction, so prevention methods need to be taken now more than ever. Though people aren’t seeking to over fish the species, they are unknowingly forcing them into endangerment. As they travel in schools, tons of Gray Cod are accidentally getting caught among fish with more abundant populations. As of right now the population is healthy, but it may not always be that way. 

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