Winter Cod Fishing is the staple of many a sea angler during our coldest months. Moreover it’s a lot of anglers favourite time of the year, the winter Cod run.
As the summer season ends and most of the warmer season fish depart, the Cod start to move in. The North Wales charter boats move from their Welsh moorings and head for the river Mersey. Here when the weather permits they will target the incoming winter Cod. Generally speaking they are up to the 8lb mark from the boats, bigger specimens come out too on occasions.
The river Mersey is a great place for winter Cod Fishing, not just for the boats either. Cod can be found and caught all over the country during winter, the river Mersey is a known hotspot in the UK. Catches of fish in the 2-4lb range are a regular occurrence from the shore. The Cod arrive late October and begin to thin out around the middle of February.
Winter Cod Fishing on the Mersey gives a lot of options to the shore angler too. Cod are caught as far down the River Mersey as Otterspool promenade. There are regular matchs here from sea fishing clubs around the north west and further afield.
The river Mersey has plenty of fishing marks to try on both shores, Liverpool or the Wirral. Some marks are fishing onto sand and others that are really rough ground venues. There is always somewhere to fish whether it’s high or low tide, big or small. One thing I have noticed on the Mersey is that long distance casting is not always needed. It all depends on the venue and state of the tide you are fishing. E.g. Otterspool at high tide the fish quite often come in close to the sides.
During lower height tides the Liverpool side can fish well or easier, however the tidal pull on bigger tides can make it hard work. Gripper leads will find it hard to hold bottom, quickly moving up or down river with the tide at times. Best to use heavier grip weights, we have used 5 ounce leads which turned out to be useless on big tides.
Fishing the Wirral side of the Mersey on big tides is far easier, the are plenty of venues here too. The reason for this is there are several groynes down to the section in front of the Egremont pub. This helps keep your leads on the bottom as it breaks up the strong tidal flow if fishing the high tides. A popular venue here is the section infront of the town hall steps, there is plenty of room too.
Let’s have a look at bait options when fishing for the winter Cod. Some Anglers swear by cocktails, where it’s Bluey or Mackerel and lug, squid and lug. Lug worm, Rag worm or squid wraps. One group in a match swore blind one night while fishing Perch Rock on the end of the river Mersey, no other bait than blow Lug tipped with Mackerel was working. Using big baits will help keep the smaller Whiting from taking them first.
That night we fished with some old frozen lug and it did the trick, we almost always fish with fresh and frozen Lug. I have never noticed on the Mersey one outperform the other, and I do take note of these things. Its all about where the fish are and if you have a scent trail, changing baits regular can work wonders. Lug can quickly become washed out in the strong tidal pull of the Mersey. Getting a good scent trail is key to the fish finding your baits in the murky water.
Whiting can be a pain when winter Cod fishing, they can appear in the Mersey in plague proportions. They tend to be of a small stamp too, the odd decent size one may turn up. You can also expect Dab and Rockling too throughout winter.
There are a few marks that are reported on a regular basis with decent catches. Otterspool and the Town Hall Steps at Wallasey can fish well. Other fishing marks can be good but less consistent but that’s fishing for you. If a report goes on that an area has fished well expect it to be busy with anglers the next day. This doesn’t mean it will be the same on the next tide but everyone loves chasing the Cod.
One thing you should make sure to do is wrap up warm, the Mersey can be merciless in winter. A slight breeze can drop the temperature a lot, it’s always better fishing when you are warm and comfortable. Keep some hand warmers in your pockets too if you can. Maintaing your core body temperature helps reduce your extremities getting cold too quick. Take a small towel or rag to dry your hands asap, the moisture will soon sap the heat from your hands. Clothing such as the Imax Thermo Suit below will help keep out the cold.
Check out the menu for information on Mersey fishing marks including how to get there.