Rock cod, also known as rockfish, groundfish and myriad other names, are a popular catch along the California coast. Their popularity could be due to their sheer variety: more than 70 different types of rock cod carouse through Pacific waters, according to the Tackle Tour website. A number of fishing techniques help lure them in.
Rock cod generally like to hang out in deeper waters. Some stay at the bottom of the sea while others flock around rocky formations and live up to their names. Coral reefs, or their remains, sea cliffs, and other structures are good areas in which to find the fish. Places without any rocky formations, such as Monterey Bay, can still be rife with rockfish. In theses cases the fish can be found hovering around and inside kelp beds. The Tackle Tour website notes the different types of rockfish that like the bottom as opposed to those who prefer to hover. The former includes black and yellow; copper, China, grass, gopher and lingcod. The latter includes the black, blues, vermilion and olive rockfish. The San Francisco Boater site adds it's not uncommon to use up to 400 feet of line to get down to the rockfish.
Certain sinkers will also help with catching a rockfish. Because of their preference for depth, you'll need a heavy duty, solid sinker that can either keep your line at the bottom or properly suspended for the hovering fish. The San Francisco Boater urges anglers to experiment and find a sinker that drops down quickly and evenly to the desired depth.
Rockfish can be picky when it comes to lures, according to the San Francisco Boater site, and experimenting is key. Some lures work better than others. Shrimp, flies, either on their own or combined with teaser worms and other attachments are recommended. Jigs are also a must, with the most effective being those that move vigorously in the water.
Several types of bait attract rock cod. Squid is one of the most effective, but you need to properly prepare it. Cut it into strips that can billow from your hook, rather than attaching the whole squid or large chunks. Squid can be fresh or frozen. Other bait that works includes anchovies and other bait fish from the California coast.
Article Written By Ryn Gargulinski
Ryn Gargulinski is a writer, artist and performer whose journalism career began in 1991. Credits include two illustrated books, "Bony Yoga" and "Rats Incredible"; fitness, animal, crime, general news and features for various publications; and several awards. She holds a Master of Arts in English literature and folklore and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing with a French minor from Brooklyn College.