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NY, NJ, CT, RI Edition
July 01, 2009
Volume 20 � Number 7

COVER PAGE    CONTENTS    FEATURES    COX'S COD
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Cox's Cod
by Captain Mike Plaia
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About 35 miles due east of Montauk Point, about 20 miles a little east of due south out of Point Judith's Harbor of Refuge and easily accessible from most of the MA coast south of Cape Cod sits a fabled fishing spot called Cox's Ledge. The ledge is a large area which rises up from the sea floor to an average depth somewhere in the 110 to 120-foot range. During the summer it often gives up nice catches of sharks and tuna that come to feed on the smaller fish that call the rocky bottom home. While sharks and tuna may be the big attraction for some fishermen, my main reason for making the trip to the ledge is to go fishing for codfish.

There are three areas of the ledge which hold the cod at various times of the year. The northern, shallower edge is an old dumping ground for derelict ships and holds at least six or so fishable wrecks. The southwestern edge, where the ledge starts to drop off into deep water often produces good catches of cod. The eastern edge also often holds good quantities of the brown bomber. During the colder months of the year, the cod do not congregate on Cox's, though they can often be found there. When the water is cold the fish tend to spread out, and the best fishing is often found somewhere between Cox's Ledge and the southeastern side of Block Island. As the water warms the fish start to congregate up on the ledge, until the fishing hits its peak during the middle of the summer.

The old timers used to say: "The ledge gets hot on the fourth of July." That was generally true up until about 10 years ago when the cod populations started to decline. For a while the codfish on Cox's ledge didn't become really productive until the beginning of August. Recently the fishing has been slowly reverting to form, with good codfishing starting sometime in July. These days the biggest obstacle to putting together a good catch of codfish has been the proliferation of the spiny dogfish. Some days, particularly early in the season the bottom is so overrun with dogfish that it becomes impossible to fish with bait. When we hit those conditions we will go to jigging for the cod, which will produce fish, but jigging doesn't seem to produce the same numbers of fish that bait fishing does. No matter what time of year you try for the cod on Cox's you will catch dogfish, and plenty of them. You just have to be patient enough to fish through them until you start catching the cod.


Here is Rob Crane with a mighty nice cod. More and more of these steaker sized cod are showing up at Cox's Ledge each year.

Tackle used is pretty much basic cod tackle: rods in the 6 to 8-foot range that can handle up to 16 to 24 ounces of lead. That much lead is not always necessary. There have been lots of days when we have been able to fish with 12 to 14 ounces. But on many days the wind and tides combine to require much heavier weight to hold bottom. Reels can range from the Penn 112 or 113 or any similar sized reels that can hold enough line to fish in the 120 to 140-foot depths. Braid is much preferred over mono, both for its sensitivity as well as to minimize the weight you will need to hold bottom. You want to keep your line as close to straight up and down as possible to avoid, or at least minimize, the snags on the bottom. The closer your line is to 90 degrees to the water, the less likely your hooks are to find something to hold onto the bottom. Rigs are the basic two hook cod rigs with a sinker loop or snap on the bottom; one hook about 18 inches above the sinker and the second hook about 18 inches above the first. Bring plenty of them; you will lose a lot of rigs. You won't be fishing in depths of 200 to 300-feet like they do in some places in the Gulf of Maine, so you can lighten up on your tackle at least a little.


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