Category Archives: Red Cod

Winter fare is not all bad.

In some ways winter fishing around Napier beaches can be more productive than summer. The species caught are often thought of as less desirable by some, but getting something, anything, on the line is still better than hours and hours of soaking bait with no result.
In the hight of summer, December-January-February, there is very little in the way of fish for the surfcaster to catch around Napier. With the exception of Kingfish around the river mouths, the place is pretty dead over mid summer.

Barracouta are one of the few nuisance fish we get in Winter

Barracouta are one of the few nuisance fish we get in Winter

In winter the main catch around here is Red Cod, along with Barracouta and if you have the right bait, Spotted Smooth Hound. Of course the good old Kahawai do make appearances during winter as well, especially around the river mouths.

Many people would consider all of the winter species mentioned above as “rubbish fish” and only fit for cat food. While I agree with that sentiment in regards to Barracouta, the others are quite edible if treated correctly when you catch them

Red Cod need to be processed immediately upon capture

Red Cod need to be processed immediately upon capture

Like Smooth Hounds, Red Cod need to be cleaned as soon as they are landed.
Quickly scale the fish, remove the head and guts including the black rib-cage lining. Put the body of the cleaned fish into a bucket of clean, cold, salt water and leave it there until you are ready to head home. I transfer them to the chillybin only when I’m read to head home.
Once home put the cod body in the fridge whole and leave it overnight before filleting it. This allows the flesh to ‘set’ and become firmer and easier to fillet.
Leaving the fillets in the fridge for another day, or at least a few more hours will firm them up  even more, ready for batter and fry pan. Done this way I actually prefer the taste of cod to both Kahawai and Smooth Hound.
However, if you just dump your Red Cod into the fish bin when you catch it, the nasty gut contents and body slime will penetrate the taste of the fish..

This Spiney Dogfish attacked a Red Cod that had swallowed the hook. In biting out the belly of the fish it managed to hook itself on the same hook.

This Spiney Dogfish attacked a Red Cod that had swallowed the hook. In biting out the belly of the fish it managed to hook itself on the same hook.

Red Cod in February?

redcodEverything I thought I knew about the seasonal fish in Hawke’s Bay just went out the window.
While continuing my holy-grail-like quest to catch a snapper, I dredged up a sulking red cod.
Why are these things here in the middle of our so called summer? They are a winter fish. Usually caught in the cold, rough, dirty water of winter, I was most perturbed to see this pathetic thing hanging forlornly on my hook at Haumoana the other night.

Aside from that, two baby tope sharks managed to choke themselves to death trying to swallow my pilchard and skipjack baits. No snapper.

Baby Tope’s don’t usually have enough pull to move the sinker, so you don’t know they’re on until you wind in to re-bait.

 

July

Its been quiet, very quiet. Masses of rain and bitterly cold conditions don’t make for fun surfcasting.
For those brave souls who did venture out locally in the weather, the catches were predictably Kahawai, Baracouta, Spiney Dogs, and red cod.
Gurnard are still being caught further north on the other side of Mahia, but generally only after a few days of settled seas.

Cape Runaway Snapper - Photo: Mark Roberts

Further north at East Cape, Snapper are still available from the rocks.

Locally here in Napier the Kahawai are reasonably abundant, if not a little undernourished, it is after all the middle of winter and food might be scarce for them I guess.

Further South in Westport catches of Kahawai and Lemonsharks are keeping winter surfcasters happy.

 

Red Cod

[singlepic id=15 w=320 h=240 float=]If there are such things as by-catch in surfcasting, the red cod is one of them. Its a nuisance fish. It has no redeeming qualities at all. The flesh, should you try to eat one, is tasteless and mushy. They fight like a piece of wet paper, in fact you often don’t know you have hooked a red cod until you reel in to change baits. Thats when you find the slimy red lump sulking on the end of your line. Catching a red cod in the presence of other surfcasters will often be the cause of much teasing and embarrassment. Best kick it back into the water before they see it. They are the garbage disposal crew of the coastline and will eat anything they can find. I throw them back so they can continue to clean up the garbage. Mostly caught in the colder months.