Poor Cod

 Poor Cod
  • Scientific name: Trisopterus minutus
  • Size: Up to 25cm.
  • UK minimum size: 8ins/20cm
  • UK shore caught record: 368 grams
  • IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)
  • Distribution: Common all around the UK, Ireland and European waters.
  • Feeds on: Will hunt very small fish and also scavenge for pretty much anything else it can find.
  • Description: Three dorsal fins, the first of which is triangular, and two anal fins. Upper flanks and back can be brown to yellowy-green, while the underside and lower flanks are silvery-white. The eyes are relatively large and the lateral line has a distinct upwards curve towards the eye and a barbule is present on the chin.

The poor cod is a small fish which inhabits inshore waters all around the UK, with its range extending into northern European waters such as the Baltic Sea and the North Atlantic. While poor cod are mostly found in shallow inshore waters they can occasionally also be found venturing into depths down to several hundred metres, with poor cod in deeper water often being found congregating in shoals around underwater features such as wrecks. This species is much less common in the warmer waters of the south of Europe but can still be found in parts of the Mediterranean Sea and along the coasts of North Africa.

Poor Cod Distribution
The distribution of poor cod centres around Europe.

Poor cod will hunt small fish such as small blennies and gobies, and will also scour the seabed for crustaceans, prawns, dead fish or anything else it comes across. Poor cod are themselves prey for species such as cod, bass, coalfish and pollock, as well as marine mammals such as dolphins and seals.

Its name is apt as many anglers see poor cod as a pest species which can annoy anglers by taking baits meant for more worthy specimens. Poor cod will take pretty much any bait, and the only thing which stops them being caught more often is the fact that they are so small they often cannot fit large hooks into their mouth. As poor cod look very similar to pouting the two species are often confused with each other. However, this guide can be used to tell the difference between these two species. This species has some commercial value as their abundance means that they can be easily caught by commercial trawlers. The majority of poor cod end up being processed into fishmeal, although they are eaten fresh and salted, especially in southern European countries.

Methods and Techniques to Catch Poor Cod

As stated most anglers see poor cod as a bait stealing pest and only catch this species inadvertently when aiming to catch larger fish. However, some match anglers do target this species, as a few poor cod can be the difference between winning or losing a competition. Similarly, on a quiet fishing session when the big fish aren’t biting many anglers will cast out a scratching rig (a rig with multiple small hooks such as Sea Angling Shop’s Scratching/Mini Species Rig) to see if they can catch anything to avoid the dreaded blank fishing session. If this method is employed then poor cod are a likely candidate to be caught. Poor cod can be caught on any bait, with ragworm, lugworm or mackerel strip the most obvious choices when going for this species.