It was the Friday before Thanksgiving some ten years ago when I awoke on a vacation day from work and said it was going to be a Beautiful Day. Sleeping the night before was a little ruff. I felt like a kid the night before Christmas. Myself and six of my buddies had booked this offshore Codfish trip on the Helen H, out of Hyannis Ma., about two months prior. The day was finally here.Little did I know that this trip was going to turn into the trip of a lifetime. The weather forecast for the next several days showed a high pressure system moving in and the offshore marine forecast sounded outrageous for north of Cape Cod. There was no cancelling this trip due to bad weather and high seas. This was to be a 48 hour fishing trip into the North Atlantic, fishing an area called Georges Banks.
The Banks are located approximately 160 miles east of Cape Cod.
Georges Bank is a large elevated area of the sea floor which separates the Gulf of Maine from the Atlantic Ocean and is situated between Cape Cod, Massachusetts and Cape Sable Island, Nova Scotia. Georges Bank is part of the continental shelf and during the Wisconsin Glaciation was actually part of the North American mainland. Georges is the most westward of the great Atlantic fishing banks. While not having the most productive fishery in the world has great prominence in that it is probably the most geographically accessible of all the fishing banks in the North Atlantic.
During the 1960s and 1970s, oil exploration companies determined that the seafloor beneath Georges Bank possesses untold petroleum reserves. However, both Canada and the United States agreed to a moratorium on exploration and production activities in lieu of conservation of its waters for the fisheries.
Over the years, because of the proximity of Georges from fishing towns like Gloucester in Massachusetts, and Yarmouth in Nova Scotia, the Codfish stocks have shown serious signs of decline due to commercial fishing trawlers. In order to help the recovery of fish stocks, approximately 25% of Georges Bank was closed to bottom fishing in 1994.While we were on anchor at the Georges, we did get buzzed by a Coast Guard Falcon Jet that wanted to ensue that we weren’t fishing a closed area.
45lb. Winter King
Just Some of the Slobs
Capt. J.B. with one of the Big Boys
All Smiles on this Trip
Head of the 45 pounder
The reason we choose the middle of November for this trip was that in the early stages of winter Codfish feed vigorously in preparation for spawning in the early months of the new year. This was prime time to catch Cod. The fish were very hungry and pounced on just about anything you could get down 200 feet. In addition, this is the time of the year when you have a better chance of catching the larger sized fish.
Techniques varied from angler to angler to entice these fish. Codfishing requires a stout rod, so I used one of my custom built 9 foot sticks that I specifically built for this trip. The rod was accompanied by a high speed 4/0 Senator filled to max with 40lb Berkley Trilene. The reason for such a long rod for codfish is that you want to keep your bait as still as possible while its on the bottom. If your fishing in a heavy heave, with the long rod you can raise the tip as you go down a swell and then lower it as you go up a swell. To much movement of the bait will entice other bottom dwellers such as bergalls and sand sharks. While fishing in 200 feet of water, you want to be able to keep your bait on the bottom without it getting picked off.
I read and heard so much about jigging cod that I gave it a shot on the first spot. I employed a 24 ounce Viking Jig with a pink 7/0 feather teaser about 3 feet above the jig on a dropper loop.This was sent down to the bottom and after a few slow lifts, I felt a bump and set the hook on a 30lb cod. As I was reeling this fish up, about 40 feet off of the bottom, I got slammed by a 25lb Pollack. Needless to say, with that kind of weight on the end of your line, it takes a little bit of time to get back up to the top.When these fish surfaced I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was about 55 lbs of fish for the cooler. My rig was now tangled and a little chaffed from the gaff so I quickly re-tied the rig and sent it back down again. Guess what happened? Another double header…..looked like twins, another 30lb plus cod and 20lb plus Pollack. I needed a little break so I cracked a beer and had a smoke. I noticed that a good portion of the fisherman on the boat were now using jigs. Hmmm I said, there’s no bait on the bottom. Still arm weary, I grabbed my other rod and rigged it up with a 20 ounce sinker on the business end and a 7/0 Gamakatsu Octopus hook, snelled on 60lb test leader material, attached to the main line about three feet above the sinker by a stand off knot. I shucked two whole skimmer clams and hung them on the hook and sent lunch to the bottom for an awaiting beast. It was about fifteen minutes later that I felt a bump on the end of my line. I kept the line tight for a few seconds to determine whether it was a fish or not and felt a few tugs. This was indeed a fish so I gave the line a little slack so that Mr. Whisker wouldn’t feel the weight of the sinker. I let him eat for a few minutes, locked up the reel and swung for the moon. My rod bent from the tip all the way to the reel seat. I thought the cod took me into the wreck or hung me up on the rocks on the bottom. I couldn’tget any line on my reel at all and then it happened. My rod slowly straightened but I still had some major weight on the end that was now tugging to get back to the bottom. It was definitely a fish. It took about twenty minutes to get this cod to the surface where the mates stuck two gaffs in him and brought him into the boat. Yes… my 45lb. codfish. This also turned out to be the poolfish for this trip. There was one cod that was brought to the surface bigger than mine but a porbeagle shark bit it into two pieces right below the gills before the mates had a chance to gaff it. That was pretty amazing to see. This trip was by far one of the best offshore trips I have ever made. Many fish and a good time was had by all....