Freshly shucked clams are paramount for hookups, but two schools of thought permeate the clam-bait plan. When there’s no current running, a gob of clam works well. But during full- and new-moon periods when the current runs hard, a well-manicured clam tongue, cut into a streamlined strip bait that won’t spin in the current, garners more strikes. “All the cod over 40 pounds I’ve seen ate half a fresh clam tongue. It seems the cleaner the bait, the easier a cod will inhale it,” says Katliarov, who adds that shucked clam shells can also be dropped to chum up cod and incite their predatory impulses.
But clams aren’t the only bait that works; mackerel, herring or bergall strip baits also do the trick. The standard go-to cod rig is a two- to three-hook dropper and high-low rig with either 6/0 bait-holder hooks or 8/0 Octopus hooks. Hooks with some added jewelry, including beads, surgical tubing, or curly tails 3 to 6 inches long, in bright colors like red, orange, hot pink, neon green or purple, out-fish bare hooks most times. “Bling on the rig definitely helps attract cod,” Katliarov notes. The hooks with the desired adornments should be set 18 inches apart, and a bank sinker at the end completes the rig.