Bullbuster In Action:

Winter Cod Fishing

Author: Captain Mike Littlefield

Fishing For Cod In Rhode Island

Rhode Island cod fishing has been making a comeback. Several years ago, cod fishing in Rhode Island was not a fruitful proposition to even consider due to the overfishing of the species. Over the last few years, cod fishinghas been productive enough for both recreational and charter captains toactively pursue or put on their bucket list.


Cod fishing in the last fall has
been productive off the East Grounds
just a few miles east of Block Island this has been consistent over the last few years. The East Grounds location can be found on most navigation maps and GPS chart plotters.

This productive location has made it easy for anglers to potentially hook up with cod within 10 to 12 miles beyond Point Judith, RI. This is important to anglers with smaller vessels, especially with the unpredictably of weather and sea conditions in late fall and winter.

Cod in rhode island
Two nice cod caught offshore Rhode Island.

In addition, the East Grounds range in depth from approximately 45 to 85 feet of water which makes fishing a lot easier than the 120 to 200-foot depths further offshore such as Coxes Ledge. Just reeling up your line to change or check your bait from 150 plus depths can become a workout after a while.

There is some sporadic cod activity even as close as the Newport area reefs during late fall as well. These cod are typically caught while anglers are pursuing blackfish/tautog since they also feed on crabs and clams which is the bait of choice for tautog and cod.

Tackle For Cod & Rigging For Cod

The rod and reel combo we recommend for cod should be capable of handling 50lb bullbuster braid. The rod should be 6'6″-7'6″ with a fast to extra-fast action. We prefer a rod that has a little more beef to the rod to handle big diamond jigs and large sinkers up to 20oz. The reel should have at least a 5:1 ratio.

Jigs For Cod

Diamond jigs of various sizes are a must have offering in the tackle arsenal. The depth and current will dictate the size needed so that the angler can keep his artificial metal offering in a vertical position. Once the jig scopes
out too far horizontally, the lure is not in the
strike zone. 

 Diamond jigs of up to 16 ounces are common when fishing in strong current, fast drift conditions and/or depths of 150-200

The other common rig of choice is a large bank sinker on a Bullbuster 80 lb monofilament and a dropper loop with a couple of hooks about 12 inches apart on dropper loops as well baited with clams or cut crabs.

Be prepared to catch numerous black sea bass on these rigs as well.

Cod Regulations

Rhode Island cod regulations are 10 fish per person with a 22inch minimum length. The season does not close as you can fish for them all year long. There is usually a cod bite around Coxes Ledge in the summer as well.

While many boaters are getting ready to
winterize their vessels, there is still some good fishing available if you can brave cooler temperatures. There are also some good fishing charter boats that fish until middle December and the larger party
boats that fish throughout the entire year, weather permitting.

Rhode Island Waters Attract Cod

Waters off the coast of Rhode Island are especially known for having large populations of Atlantic Cod. Several different factors draw cod into the frigid waters off the Rhode Island coast.

  • Cold Water – Cod love waters with a cooler temperature so they naturally head for the cool waters of New England.
  • Prey – Cod are big predators of all types and sizes of fish. The fish cod eat just happen to be native to the waters off of Rhode Island. This helps a lot attract the cod and bait for the cod.
  • Rocky Bottomed and Shipwrecked Waters- Cod like to hide and wait for their prey. The rocky bottomed ocean floor and shipwrecks provide excellent hunting grounds for cod to catch its prey.
  • Spawning – Every winter, thousands of adult cod are drawn to Rhode Island waters due to the cool temperatures, plentiful prey and excellent hunting grounds. The result is lots of cod available for catching.
  • Fishing Close to Shore- Rhode Island waters provide abundant opportunities for cod fishing close to the shore, unlike most other cod fishing areas. You’ll never have to go too far or fish deep water here. These shallow waters allow beginners to start fishing cod.

The Perfect Fish for Every Fisherman

Beginners and seasoned anglers can both enjoy catching a cod. Since these fish are caught closer to the shore, having personal fishing experience is not as important as it is with deep ocean fishing. Also, cod don’t put up much of a struggle. Reeling in a cod feels more like snagging a boot or log. Even novices can catch a cod. Cod still attract a lot of experienced anglers due to their size.

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We hope that you enjoyed this article on the Bullbuster Community.  It is our mission to help millions of anglers spend more time fishing and that starts with YOU!

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