MONTI: Cod fishing a good bet for January | Local sports



In Rhode Island and in Massachusetts waters south of Cape Cod, cod reign in January.

The cod bite off Rhode Island has been good this season with fish at Cox Ledge and even closer in the East Fishing Grounds, three miles east of Block Island and at Shark’s Ledge south of Block Island. The minimum size of cod in Rhode Island and Massachusetts south of Cape Cod is 22 inches with a catch limit of 10 fish / person / day.

On Wednesday’s trip, the Francis Fleet Party boat from Pt. Judith, RI, said, “We’ve had a much better day on the cod bottoms. We worked closer to Block Island today and found much better action. We had to choose from the heaps of short bars, but we still managed a decent choice. Some nice cod and more shorts are starting to appear. “

Captain Rick Bellavance, President of the Rhode Island Party & Charter Boat Association (RIPCBA) said, “Winter cod fishing in Rhode Island can be amazing. The cod will school in the shallows south of Block Island and provide a great opportunity to get out on the water during the winter months.

Few private boats are still in the water in January, but in Rhode Island, three group boats and a handful of charter boats offer fish all winter for cod. In recent years I have spent the winter on some of these boats with good success.

Where to find cod

Cod is a basically lazy groundfish. They do not hunt aggressively, they stay roughly on the bottom, often close to the structure (underwater wrecks, piles of rocks, holes, bumps and drop offs), waiting for the arrival of prey (cod likes to feed on mackerel and herring). So you have to go where the cod are to catch them. They probably won’t come to you.

Captain Rusty Benn of the Seven B party boat said: “The cod fishing in the winter has been pretty good. Cod have been left alone most of the season as anglers target different species, so we find them quite regularly around Block Island in December and January. We like to fish an open bottom near the structure. One of the biggest problems is dogfish.

Rick Bellavance said, “If you fish cod on your own boat, plan to move around a bit, keep the bottom machine running and try every bump and bump. Try out each location at different times during the trip, focus on one area and hit the spots in that area hard. Take notes throughout the day, and over time you’ll have the information you need to be successful every time you go. “

Recreational fisherman Rich Hittinger and RISSA 1st vice president said that to find cod it is very helpful to have a good fish finder. “Cod have a developed swim bladder and they do well on a good fish finder. Many trips, we spent 30 minutes driving around the area until we saw some good piles of fish, and when we just land on them we hit them immediately.

Cod rigs and baits

One or two hooks, a bank sinker that holds the bottom, and clams are often used as bait to catch cod. Jigs of different sizes, colors and weights depending on the conditions are also used. Cod usually eats whatever is in front of it, it’s not picky, but you need to get its attention and jigs usually do a good job. A commonly used platform is a diamond jig with a colorful teaser attached about 12 inches above the jig. Sometimes fishermen tilt the jig and teaser with fresh bait (a piece of clam).

“We fish with high / low rigs but bait the bottom hook with clams, then put plastic baits like shad or worm on the top hook. Half of our shots come on the top hook with artificial bait. It works especially well when the sandeels are running and it helps keep the dogfish away, ”said captain Tony Guarino of Booked Off Charters. “But jigs are my favorite way to catch cod. We use a slow pitch jig made by Yo-Zuri that we buy in Japan; fish usually hit the jig on the drop.

“I like the Viking stencils with a teaser on top with pink and green colors which generally suit me well. Grub-style teasers also work. The weight of the jig will vary with the tide and current, but we are often in the water with eight ounces, ”said Captain Chatowsky.

Cod fishing experts typically use rods that are seven to eight feet long with a large backbone. Shimano, Diawa, and Penn are popular names when it comes to cod fishing rods and reels.

Who fishes cod?

Party boats (inspected vessels that take more than six fishermen, often 50 to 75 fishermen) out of Rhode Island to fish for cod this winter include: the Seven B’s at, the Frances Fleet at www.francesfleet .com and Island Courant III on The rates per fisherman for cod fishing are approximately $ 100.

Charter boats (six fishermen or less) vary from $ 750 to $ 1,200 per vessel depending on whether the cod voyage is near shore or offshore (and the length of the voyage). Charter boats fishing for cod this winter include: Big Game Sport Fishing Figures, Captains Brian and Peter Bacon,; Booked Off Charters, Captains Tony Guarino and Wade Baker,; Drifter Charters, Captain Richard Chatowsky,

Where’s the bite?

Cod and black sea bass: See article above.

Fresh water: “Anglers do well with trout in stocked ponds. Willet Avenue Pond produces trout with a good bite of salmon and trout at Olney Pond, Lincoln Woods, ”said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle in Riverside. Synthetic baits (like PowerBait) are the bait of choice in ponds stocked for a few weeks because fish are used to eating synthetic feed in the hatchery. Once the fish are acclimatized, natural baits are recommended. Fishermen are reminded to renew their saltwater and freshwater licenses for 2022. For licensing information and a list of stocked trout ponds in Rhode Island, visit http: //www.dem / programs / fish-wildlife / freshwater-fisheries; and in Massachusetts, visit

Dave Monti holds a captain’s license and a charter fishing license. He sits on various boards and commissions and owns a consulting business focused on ocean cleanliness, habitat preservation, conservation, renewable energy, and fisheries issues and clients. Send fishing news and photos to [email protected] or visit



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