Published On: Thu, Apr 12th, 2018

Blue Cod (Parapercis colias) – Sort after my South Island Anglers

Blue cod photographed underwater.

Blue cod photographed under water. Blue cod are very inquisitive and will often approach divers.

Blue Cod – Parapercis colias

Other names for blue cod: Rawaru, patutuki

Blue Cod – Parapercis colias – are caught all around the coast of New Zealand including the Three Kings Island in the far north, and the Chatham Islands. More abundant and larger around the South Island. Very large blue cod around Fiordland and Southland. Perhaps the most popular table fish sort after by anglers around southern New Zealand

Blue cod (Parapercis colias) image

These fat blue cod weighing about 8 pounds each were caught deep sea fishing over the Pegasus Canyon, off the Canterbury coast, by local angler Alan Robertson.

They are prone to be fished out in some areas where there is a lot of fishing pressure. One such area is the Marlborough Sounds where the only blue cod caught nowadays tend to be smaller juvenile fish. While other less accessible locations such as Fiordland still produce many large fish up to 5 or 6kg.

The best places to fish for blue cod are definitely the distant reefs off Southland and Fiordland. Even in the outer Marlborough Sounds blue cod are few and far between. When fishing in Fiordland one is struck by the comparative size of the blue cod together with their considerable abundance. They are voracious feeders often being the first species caught when baited hooks are lowered to the bottom in any new fishing spot. This perhaps goes a long way to explaining why they are so easily fished out by recreational anglers from certain localities! 

Blue cod are found mostly over foul ground from a few metres down to about 150m. The Pegasus Canyon off Canterbury produces some very big blue cod, as does the Kaikoura coast and Motunau Beach. Many anglers nowadays fish with multi-hook flasher rigs. When these are used you can often catch as many as four or five blue cod from just one drop. In this situation, it is important to limit your catch and return unwanted fish unharmed to the water as quickly as possible.

Blue cod taken in Stephens Passage, near D'Urville Island.

Blue cod caught in Stephens Passage, near D’Urville Island.

Blue cod are such voracious feeders that they will take almost any bait you care to use though I am sure that fresh cut fish baits like yellow-eyed mullet are the best. I have caught quite a few blue cod on soft plastic worms. Having a few of these soft plastics in your tackle box will get you started if you have no other bait available. The best hook sizes are 3/0 to 5/0 depending on the area you are fishing. I have tried using quite large hooks to limit the catch of smaller cod but this has had limited success as even the smallest fish seem determined to get themselves hooked anyway. Circle style long-line hooks are an advantage as they almost always hook the blue cod in the corner of the mouth making it easier to release smaller fish unharmed.

Blue cod is one of the best-eating fish in the sea. They have firm pinkish white fillets. Smoked blue cod is a southern New Zealand delicacy!

Blue cod caught off Oamaru

This blue cod was caught off Oamaru. This species is found only in New Zealand. They are one of the best-eating fish in the sea.

About the Author

- Fishingmag.co.nz website editor.

New Zealand Sea Fishes