Baltic Cod fish identification, its habitats, characteristics, fishing methods.
Baltic cod (Gadus morhua callarias) is a marine demersal species, one of the 5 subspecies of the Atlantic cod adapted to the breakish Baltic water. The Atlantic cod is a migratory marine predator, has two subspecies (geographical races): Gadus morhua morhua and Gadus morhua callarias, Eastern Baltic cod, which are different in their range, environmental preferences (salinity, temperature and feeding waters), colouration and body sizes. Gadus morhua morhua live in the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the western part of the Arctic Sea, near Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland, and in the western part of the Baltic Sea, and show a high genetic variability of schools. Gadus morhua callarias live in the Baltic Sea from 15°E up to the Gulf of Bothnia. It has smaller body size (the average body length of cod living in the North Sea is 30–80 cm, and in the Baltic Sea 30–70 cm) and is adapted to living in waters with lower salinity. In no other area has any subspecies of cod adapted to life in such a low salinity. The population of the Baltic cod devided into two subpopulations, Western Baltic Cod and the Eastern Baltic Cod, west and east of Bornholm (55°N, 15°E), different in their location and spawning times. Baltic cod is the most important species for commercial fishery in the Baltic Sea. Cod is white, very delicate and tasty, although its taste is sometimes described as neutral. It is lean and dietetic. Cod liver, the richest natural source of omega-3 fatty acids, is a valued specialty used in canned fish products.
Baltic cod live in the Baltic Sea from 15°E up to the Gulf of Bothnia. It is adapted to living in waters with lower salinity. In no other area has any subspecies of cod adapted to life in such a low salinity. The population of the Baltic cod devided into two subpopulations, Western Baltic Cod and the Eastern Baltic Cod, west and east of Bornholm (55°N, 15°E), different in their location and spawning times.
Baltic cod depth is about 1/4th of a length. It’s head is large, but varying much in size from 1/4th to 1/5th of a body length. Its maxillary about reaching middle of orbit; occipital keel not greatly developed; teeth strong, cardiform, in narrow bands, those of the outer row in the upper jaw and of the inner row in the lower jaw somewhat enlarged. Eye is moderate, about ½ length of snout. First dorsal fin a little elevated, its height about ½ length of head; vent under front of second dorsal; caudal slightly emarginate; pectorals ½ length of head.
It has a nondescript, brownish-gray with numerous spots on the sides. The lower jaw is provided with well distinguishable tendril - probe.
Greenish or brownish, subject to a many variations, sometimes yellowish or reddish; back and sides with numerous rounded brownish spots; lateral line pale; fins dark.
14-21-19 Dorsal fin rays.
20-18 Anal fin rays.
Max. Length: 1m, common is 30-80 cm.
Max. Weight: 30kg, common 3-5 kg.
Baltic cod perfectly adapted for life in deep, cold waters. Find it shall move along the coastline, submarine elevations, at depths of 20-100m. Baltic cod are more closely related to cod from the Barents Sea than those from the North Sea. It concerns mainly the stock in the eastern part of the Baltic Sea. Common throughout the Baltic, though distribution fluctuating along with the stock. In the years of high abundance Baltic cod entering gulfs and the northern part. If the stock is decreasing the cod concentrate in the southern part.
The Baltic cod is a predator, feeding mostly on herring-like schooling fish, benthic invertebrates - mollusks and worms, and plankton.
Baltic cod is a gregarious species, reaching maturity in the 2nd or 3rd year and length about 40cm. They spawn from January to April in the western Baltic Sea, as spring spawners. For the eastern stock in the Bornholm basin, the main spawning season is from June to September as summer spawners, in deeper water. Spawning is generally restricted to the deep basins in the Central Baltic Sea. The peak spawning time of Central Baltic cod has varied between April and August. High egg mortality was the main reason for low reproductive success. Unlike in other cod stocks, where salinities are sufficient to keep the eggs floating at the surface, eastern Baltic cod eggs occur exclusively within or below the halocline in 50–75 m. of the deep Baltic basins, where salinity exceeds 11 ppt and contents of oxygen is above 2 ml/l. Only in this layer the salinity of the brackish Baltic Sea is sufficient to ensure a normal development of the eggs. However, in this layer, cod eggs might encounter too low oxygen conditions for survival. A few days after hatch the larvae migrate vertically into upper water layers with sufficient prey concentrations and light conditions for feeding avoiding critical oxygen levels.
Cod is a multiple batch spawner, with an adult cod spawning about 20 batches during the spawning period. Number of eggs depends on weight and length of the fish. Specimens can attain a weight of up to 30 kg and spawn up to 1 million eggs. The eggs and larvae are planktonic.
Baltic Cod is one of the most important commercial fish in the Baltic Sea. Their population has substantially decreased lately. Therefore, commercial fishing is strictly limited. Such a decrease is mainly caused by the pollution of the Baltic Sea and lack of oxygen at the bottom of the waters where cod usually spawn. Good to use various bottom tackle from a vessel or on shore, as well as spinning. Good bait is nozzles - lobworm, red worms, pieces of fish or shellfish meat, heavy spoon, allowing tap the bottom at depths of 50-80 m. Hooked fish resists slightly, and the extraction of the catch from the water easy. Dietary value of meat and cod very unique taste of the liver made her a desirable catch for fishermen.
The two techniques that work well for catching a cod are rigs with baits and jigging.
Cod feed on sand eels, yabbies, bardi grubs, haddock, squid, crabs, lobsters, mussels, sea worms, crabs, mackerel, molluscs, etc. The best baits to use are sea clams, yabbies, bardi grubs and sea worms. Cod rig is primarily made of swivel, bead for stop knot and the end part, hook. The baits are hooked up between the bead and the main hook. Drop the rig down to the bottom. You can keep it fixed or lift it to a few inches up, and then drop it again.
Jigging required of using artificial baits, like Tube jigs, Slab Jigs, Norwegian Jigs or Diamond Jigs. This is an effective method widely used to catch a cod. Tube jig is a hollow cylindrical lure made of plastic, without any fancy jargons. Sponge with scent is filled in the hollow part of the tube jig, to lure the cod. Slab Jigs used to attract the cod by the flapping effect produced from the jig. Norwegian Jigs are long and shiny and is used to imitate and resembles a herring. Diamond Jigs are mostly used to catch big cods. The hooks of these jigs are inclined at 45 degrees and have efficient catching abilities.
Some tips for Cod fishing:
Spring season is the best time for cod fishing, as they cruise near the shores during this time.
Cods are active and swim around in shallow waters during the early morning and evening hours.
Cods are mostly found in the deep waters and are reluctant to move from its area. Drop the rig down to the bottom.
Cods usually move around the waters in groups. If you caught one, keep dropping your rig in the nearby places to get more cods.
Cods have a small mouth. Use small bait.
Cod meat is white in color, is moist and lean, medium- to firm-textured, and delicately flavorful with a mild taste. Tender, thick fillets with large flakes that "gape" (separate) when cooked. It is a good source of low fat protein, phosphorus, niacin, and vitamin B12 with a mild flavor and a dense, flaky white flesh. Cod livers are processed to make cod liver oil, an important source of vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA).
Cod is excellent for poaching, broiling, baking, braising, and frying. A popular main ingredient in chowders, which are creamy and binding enough to support the big flakes of meat that fall apart when cooked. Whole cod are often stuffed and baked. Heads and bones make fine soup stock.