East Kent Coast Sea Fishing Compendium
Uptiding for Cod
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Uptiding for cod is the most successful method of fishing an area of fast tides, takes a large share of the larger double figure fish, and keeps you more active during cold weather. Because the bait is cast well away from the boat, tangled lines are eliminated and, unlike downtide fishing, the anglers lined up along the gunwales are not at a disadvantage compared to those fishing from the stern.
Uptiding was originally introduced to combat the so-called "scare area" created around an anchored boat by both the slap of the water on the hull and the "drumming" noise caused by a fast tide flowing around a tight anchor rope. The idea was that, by casting away from the boat outside the scare area, more fish would be caught. The increased width of scent trail passing downtide created by those spread-apart baits might also contribute to the success of uptiding.
The technique of uptiding is straightforward. A cast is made, not across the tide, but at an angle into it. As the lead hits the water (after first stopping the revolving spool to avoid overruns) the angler releases line, feeling for the lead to hit the sea bed. When the lead is felt to "touch down" more line is released to create a large bow in the line and to pull the wired lead deep into the seabed to anchor it.
The distance needed to cast, and the amount of line to release, depends on the speed of the passing tide. At times of reduced tidal run, and in shallow water, a cast of only 25 yards is enough with a release of up to 20 yards of line. In depths of over 75 feet, casting up to 45 yards and releasing over 30 yards of line may be needed to get the lead to anchor.
When the lead grips and the bow in the line is fully taught, the rod tip is bent over to the pull of the tide. Bites are seen, initially, as a series of "nods" on the tip, followed by the whole rod tip pulling over and then springing back straight as the lead is pulled free by the taking fish.
To strike successfully, first take in all slack line. Pick up the rod and lower the tip to the horizontal whilst winding in line at the same time. As the line starts to come tight and the weight of the fish is felt for the first time, lift the tip of the rod towards the vertical to fully make sure the hook has found a solid hold.
Invariably, almost all cod caught on the uptide method will be hooked against the static lead, but sometimes a hook point will find solid bone and gristle and fail to sink past the barb. The striking sequence ensures the hook sets properly.
The best uptiding occurs, like shore fishing, when the main run of flood and ebb tide is rushing past. Bites drop away towards slack water. Fewer fish are feeding inshore during neap tides and spring tides are better for uptiding. The best uptiding occurs when the big spring tides coincide with a period of rough weather settling down.
Paraphrasing Henry Ford, "use any bait provided it's worm". Black and blow lugworm are excellent but the black needs to have the guts left in and should not be gutted for full effect. Use a 9 inch bait, but a 6lb cod will easily take a full foot of worm without any problem. King rag is not as good as lug, but does catch cod. The 12 inch or bigger worms are better than the smaller ones as they carry much more juice and scent. Tipping off with squid, or making a combination bait of lug, rag, razorfish will also score. Other baits are much less successful in catching cod.
Rods & Reels
Uptide rods vary in length between 9 and 10½ feet and have a soft tip to (a) achieve the best casting action from a restricted casting style (i.e. a short, overhead stroke from a pitching deck) and (b) allow the tip to pull over into the tide and give to the pull and swing of the boat at anchor without ripping the lead free from the sea bed. The rod should have a powerful butt and lower section with which power can be applied to drag big fish back towards the boat against the tide.
One multiplier stands out when it comes to uptide reels - the ABU 7000 series. It casts well, has robust gears and a line capacity of 300 yards of 18lb line. Alternatively, the Daiwa SL30 is a competent uptide reel.
Fixed spool reels with a large line capacity (to maximize retrieve ratio and casting performance) can also be used for uptiding.
The long and low fixed paternoster rig with two hook pennell snood is the only real choice for all uptide cod fishing. Pennell rigs are ideal for catching cod because this species has an extra-large mouth.
A The two-hooks are ideal for mounting whole squid, crabs etc. Whichever way the fish takes the bait, you are almost guaranteed a hook-up. Use a strip of silicone tubing to lock-on and adjust the uppermost hook.
B Remember to use a very strong swivel and snap-link combination here.
C Strong knots are vital when catching big fish like cod, so use a reliable Grinner or even a Palomar knot.
D A 10in long sliding boom ensures that the snood does not come into contact with the lead.
E A seriously strong swivel attaches the breakout lead. These leads are essential for uptiding because they anchor your rig and bait.
Lead patterns are important. In average tide conditions a normal release wired lead between 5 and 6oz will hold with enough line out. Use leads with a longer tail as these pull into the seabed deeper and do not twist sideways so easily when the tail gets buried.
For very fast tides use leads with fixed wires coming from the nose ("Sputniks"). The wires need to come forwards in a straight line for a couple of inches, then be bent up at a right angle and then bent again at another right angle to form the grip.
"Sea Angling: Kent to Cornwall" (1990) Mel Russ & Alan Yates at page 32
Uptide casting techniques find considerable success along the north Kent coast and in the shallow waters off Folkestone, Dover and Dymchurch, although it is not generally so successful when used from a small dinghy. Rods of up to 10 feet long are employed with the best being built along beach rod lines. The smaller shore fishing multiplier reels filled with light lines of around 15lb help to get maximum casting range and beat the tides. A simple one hook nylon paternoster with bait clip and fixed grip lead completes the outfit, which is especially effective for cod during the winter months.