Newfoundland and Labrador has a rich fishing history and great angling options to choose from. Catch and release ocean fishing is available year round and the ground-fish food fishery (the one where you get to catch and keep cod) is open for an average of 40 days each year. Trout and salmon fishing, depending on the river or lake you choose, stays open throughout the spring, summer, and even into the fall. In winter, ice fishing for trout and smelt is also an experience you won’t want to miss. If you’re looking for Newfoundland trout and Atlantic salmon specific information or need more details on fishing Newfoundland’s lakes, rivers, and inland waters, be sure to check out our Newfoundland Atlantic salmon and Newfoundland trout fishing blog posts for up to date information on secret Newfoundland fishing spots even the locals don’t want you to know about.
Ocean Fishing and cod jigging in Newfoundland is a unique experience. If you’ve fished for cod elsewhere, let go of any preconceived ideas you may have since the experience in Newfoundland is different than elsewhere. Based on hundreds of years of tradition, cod fishing in Newfoundland has evolved in a special way, and experiencing it first hand during the Newfoundland food fishery is the best way to have an authentic cod jigging adventure. During the Newfoundland food fishery, you can use a traditional hand line jigger and fish for cod from an open boat like a Rodney or Dory in the same way it’s been done for generations. Newfoundland has the richest fishing grounds on earth and Cod is the fish this island is famous for. In Newfoundland, cod is king.
Jigging for cod is a fun way to spend the day with family and friends, and it’s common for anglers to catch their quota of five ground-fish, codfish included, during a single ocean fishing adventure. The mixing of the Gulf Stream with the East Greenland and Labrador current is what creates the North Atlantic Oceanic Gyre and sets the stage for the most productive fishing grounds on our planet, creating perfect conditions for ground-fish like cod. There’s no need to venture far off-shore when jigging for cod since recreational hand line cod fishing is best done in coastal waters with a protective coastline and rocky bottom. Ideal water depths range from 60 feet to 300 feet (that’s between 10 to 50 fathoms deep for all you mariners out there). It’s so easy to catch cod, you don’t even need bait. The cod here are plentiful and Newfoundland codfish is among the highest quality cod in the world. Judge for yourself when you’re enjoying a fresh feed of cod caught earlier on the same day. You’ll probably hear yourself saying “this is the best fish I’ve ever tasted in my life”.
Not only does cod fishing in Newfoundland pay off with tasty and healthy fresh fish on your plate, but there are financial rewards too. Everyone enjoying the Newfoundland recreational food fishery has a chance to get between $10 and $100 per fish they catch as a reward from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), and the best part is you still get to keep the fish you catch. When you catch a cod on your jigger and pull it up into the Dory, Rodney, or whatever watercraft you happen to be in, ensure you carefully look for a yellow or pink fish tag on the fish you catch, usually located on the back of the fish. These tags are fish monitoring tags placed on the fish by DFO and are there to help the department monitor fish migration patterns and habitat preferences. The reward dollar amount is actually printed right on the tag. To claim your reward, simply return the tag via mail to the DFO along with the date and location you caught the fish. Be sure to include your return mailing address and then wait for your reward to arrive in the mail.
We’re eagerly waiting for the release of the 2019 Newfoundland Food Fishery dates and regulations. Although the Newfoundland Food Fishery dates for 2019 haven’t been released yet for this season, we expect to see similar regulations to what we’ve seen in the past, allowing anglers to catch and keep up to five ground-fish per person or a maximum of fifteen ground-fish (including cod) per boat. Unlike non-resident salmon fishing and trout fishing, cod fishing in Newfoundland does not require any special permits or tags. All you have to do is go out on the water and catch your fill. Last year, the food fishery was open for a total of 39 days, comprising of every Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from June 30th to September 3rd. There may be small changes for the Newfoundland Food Fishery in 2019, and nobody can be certain until the Department of Fisheries and Oceans release the dates later this year, but we anticipate the status quo. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans typically releases food fishery dates every year around the beginning of June. Dates and rules vary slightly from year to year, but one thing’s for sure, as soon as the 2019 cod jigging dates are released, we’ll be posting them here since we know how many people want to plan their Newfoundland vacation around the same.
The best way to experience cod jigging during your Newfoundland adventure is to join a tour and get out on the water with a qualified ocean fishing guide. Throughout the season, daily whale watching boat tours and cod jigging adventures depart multiple times daily from the wharf at the end of our lane. Cod jigging in the Witless Bay Marine Ecological Reserve has a double bonus since you also get to experience whales, puffins, and rare seabirds exclusive to the marine protected zone inside the Eco Reserve.
Have you had an experience jigging for cod in Newfoundland? Did you hire a local ocean fishing guide? Where did you go? We’d like to hear your fish tale. Post in the comments below and tell us about your experience.