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Tips for Rock Cod Fishing

By James Patterson

Fishing for rock cod, or rockfish as they are commonly called, is a passion for people all over the country, but especially in places like Central California and the Pacific Northwest, where rock cod is primarily found. In order to have success at rock cod fishing, you have to know the right areas to fish in, have the right equipment and probably a little bit of luck.

Location and Timing

Rock cod get their name from their natural habitat -- the rocks that sit at the bottom of salt water bodies of water like the ocean. They tend to stay in the same location for food and breeding purposes, so use an electronic fish locater and a GPS to mark a spot with plentiful rock cod once you’ve found it. Different types of rock cod congregate in different environments. Grass cod, for example, like more shallow location with seaweed, while vermillion rock cod swim in deeper waters and get larger in size the deeper the water. Some rock cod fish move locations depending on their spawning season, which tends to be toward the latter end of the summer, so if its August and you’re having trouble finding them, move to a little more shallow water where they’re more likely to spend spawning season.


One of the keys to catching any kind of fish is using the right bait. For rock cod, just any worm on any hook won’t do. Because rock cod spend most of their time at the floor of the ocean and in the cracks and crevices of rocks, jigs are very effective in attracting them because of their jagged, quick movements. Use a jig that has a lot of action -- or in other words, moves up and down quickly with lots of motion -- since the light at the ocean floor can be lower and rock cod are attracted to quick movements. If you would rather use live bait, anchovies are some of rock cod’s favorite food, but be sure to attach a weight to the end of your line to give the bait some sink and help with movement.


Because rock cod like to stay in the same location, weather and other conditions can play a big factor in having success catching them. On a windy day, your boat can have trouble staying in the same place, which will make it hard to jig your bait and attract the fish. Use a device like a drift sock, which attaches to the end of the boat and acts as a sort of parachute to keep your boat from drifting too much in the event of wind or current.

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