Spawning cod in freshwater
Freshwater cod are found in many of the larger and deeper lakes of the Jutland Lake District near Silkeborg. This exotic fish is the only species of codfish living in freshwater, its close relationship to saltwater cod being shown by the barb under its mouth.
As a true codfish the freshwater cod likes cold water when it comes to spawning. It spawns when winter peaks and water temperature is at its lowest. Which is often the case at the beginning of February. Under the right conditions the freshwater cod of the lakes gather in groups that spawn together.
Occasionally February has lakes covered with ice but not so every year. Only a few days in a normal winter offer ice thick enough to carry a grown man and his fishing gear. Sadly as ice fishing for freshwater cod can be very exiting and different from all other angling methods. Luckily, you will do as well fishing from a boat in case there is no ice.
Freshwater cod are nocturnal creatures – even in the midst of winter. This means that you should not waste your time fishing for them in daylight. Instead you should be fishing the dark hours of the day – with juicy bait on your hook. An icy experience which can be had on many of the lakes around Silkeborg that hold good stocks of this very tasty albeit to many ugly-looking fish.
Spawning cod in saltwater
Mature cod now gather to spawn in the midst of winter. The spawning itself is kind of a “bunch-wedding” where many fish spawn together though they do find a specific partner to spawn with.
Cod are normally associated with the bottom but quite often cod move upwards to feed in pelagic waters where schools of herring and sprat make up the menu. Such cod loose their dark coloration and turn lighter. But when spawning, cod always stick to the bottom and on the screen of a fishfinder you will see them as distinctive “bumps”.
These “bumps” are often incredibly dense and limited to but a few square feet of the bottom. This means that it takes an attentive captain to detect them – and an equally attentive angler to catch them!
Despite the fact that cod fishing has been down over the last few years – due to large trawlers vaccuum-cleaning the fishing grounds – the shallows around Sletterhage and Djursland still offer decent opportunities of hooking up with pot-bellied cod.
Saltwater seatrout on a budget
In mild winters sea trout may be caught in saltwater all winter long. Especially if you concentrate on the brackish bays where freshwater tributaries reduce the salinity and thus provide the sea trout with better conditions for living.
Fish are usually somewhat slow this time of year, their metabolism being down in the cold water. Feeding periods typically are short but intense in the midst of winter. Usually you stand a better chance of success if you choose your bait so that you may fish it slowly through the water. This gives the fish more time to detect it and make up their minds. Strong or even fluorescent colours typically add to your chances of hooking up.
This means that colourful flies can be used to advantage. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be a fly fisherman to reap the benefits of flyfishing. If you are a spin fisherman you can use a water-filled float with a trailing fly and fish it as slowly as conditions dictate. Few sea trout can resist such a presentation.
Amongst the wintery hotspots of East Jutland are the Bay of Mariager to the north plus the Bay of Kalø in the northern part of of the much larger Bay of Århus. Further down south you will find good spots in the Bay of Horsens. Typical spots have shallow water and freshwater tributaries nearby. Make sure that you respect the 500 m protection zones around these outlets.
New season in progress
January 16 marked the beginning of a new angling season in the rivers of East Jutland. Depending on the prevailing climatic conditions, Opening Day may be mild and wet with plenty of muddy water in the rivers. Or icy cold with snow on the banks and clear water running low. You never know.
Despite the unpredictable conditions on Opening Day, good numbers of sea trout are usually caught in the the lower River Guden and the Channels of Kolindsund on Djursland. Mostly spawned-out fish in surprisingly good condition but often also good numbers of smaller, immature and silvery “greenlanders” in prime condition.
Most are caught on bait – the good old “Earth Fly” reigning supreme – but plenty of fish are also caught spinning or even flyfishing. No matter what bait you choose, it should be fished deep and slow. For the flyfisherman this means sinking lines or at the very least: sinking leaders where rivers are not too deep. Flashy lures and flies are necessary if they are to be seen by the fish in the deep and murky water.
© 2023 Steen Ulnits