Catching saffron cod: description and methods of catching fish at sea


Fishing for navaga

Navaga is a medium-sized representative of the cod family, living in the northern part of the Pacific basin and in the seas of the Arctic Ocean. They are divided into two subspecies: northern (European) and Far Eastern. When mentioning Pacific fish, the names are often used: Far Eastern, Pacific or wakhna. Traditionally, it is a popular object of fishing for the local population. Despite the small size, the fish is very tasty. It is a cold-loving representative of the ichthyofauna. Leads a demeanor lifestyle. It keeps to the shelf zone, it is almost impossible to meet it far from the coast. Sometimes it enters rivers and lakes. Navaga has an elongated body characteristic of all cod species, a typical arrangement of fins and a large head with a large lower mouth. The color is silvery with a purple tint, the belly is whitish. On the corner of the lower jaw, like all codfish, it has a “beard”. It differs from other cod species in its faded color, pursuing body and small size. The weight of the fish rarely exceeds 500 g and the length is 50 cm. It is worth noting that the Far Eastern subspecies is somewhat larger, there are cases of catching fish weighing slightly less than 1.5 kg. Navaga easily adapts to desalinated water. Despite its size, it is an active predator, a certain territoriality is characteristic of flocks. In cold weather, it stays close to the coastline. The fish actively protects its habitats, even from larger individuals of other species. It feeds on smaller inhabitants of the shelf zone, including mollusks, shrimps, young fish, caviar and others. Especially large accumulations of fish forms during migrations. The main depth at which saffron cod lives is about 30-60 m. In summer, the feeding area shifts slightly towards the sea, probably due to warm water near the coast, which the fish do not like. Most active in spring and autumn, before and after spawning.

Ways to catch navaga

There is a year-round industrial fishing of this fish. For coastal fishermen, navaga is one of the most popular objects of fishing. Pomors have been catching northern navaga since time immemorial. It has been mentioned in chronicles since the 16th century. The most popular amateur fishing on winter gear. During seasonal migration, fish are caught with ordinary fishing rods in huge quantities. Given that the fish is ubiquitous and at different depths, it is caught in various ways. The types of gear for catching this fish rather depend on the conditions where the fishing takes place. For this, both bottom, float, and spinning gear can be suitable. Vertical flashing can occur using the same gear and nozzles in both summer and winter, from ice or from boats.

Catching saffron cod from under the ice

Probably the most lucrative way to fish for this fish. There are various types of equipment used for ice fishing. Some fishermen believe that the main condition for winter gear is non-rigid rod whips, the fish has a soft palate. Catch on various snaps using natural baits. Considering the possible depths, rods with bulky reels or reels are used. Fishing lines are used quite thick, up to 0.4 mm, the principle of the location of the leashes can be different – above or below the sinker. The main condition of the equipment is reliability, the fish are not shy, and fishing at great depths in the wind can be difficult. Sometimes fish are caught at a depth of 30 m. Equipment for winter lure of the “tyrant” type is no less popular. Spinners are used the same as in summer for vertical fishing from boats.

Fishing with float and bottom rods

From the shore, saffron cod are caught using bottom rigs. The best time for fishing is high tide. Navaga on float and bottom gear, as a rule, takes sharply and greedily, while the sinker does not always have time to reach the bottom. Experienced anglers advise holding rods in their hands. Various multi-hook equipment is used. Float rods are usually used when fishing various designs at a considerable depth near the shore. Nozzles sink close to the bottom. To do this, use both fly rods and with running equipment of various lengths. As in the case of fishing with winter gear, it is possible to use fairly coarse rigs, it is more important to consider reliability when fishing in difficult coastline conditions. Bottom rods can serve as specialized rods for coastal sea fishing, as well as various spinning rods.


Navaga is a voracious and active fish, feeding on almost all kinds of demersal animals and small fish that it can catch. Fish are caught for various meats of fish, shellfish, worms and more. Among artificial lures, these can be medium-sized spinners, wobblers, silicone baits, when fishing for spinning in the “cast” and various small oscillating lures when fishing “plumb”.

Places of fishing and habitat

The Far Eastern saffron cod lives both on the Asian and American coasts of the Pacific Ocean. It can be found along the entire Pacific coast in the northern part of the basin, where cold currents act, in the south its habitat is limited to the Korean Peninsula. Northern navaga lives off the coast of the seas of the Arctic Ocean: in the Kara, White, Pechora.


Sexual maturity occurs at 2-3 years. Spawning takes place in winter from December to February. It spawns only in non-desalinated sea water, usually at a depth of 10-15 m on a rocky-sandy bottom. Caviar is sticky, attached to the ground. Females are very prolific, but not less than 20-30% of eggs are almost immediately eaten by both the navagas themselves and other species. The fish is in the larval phase for a long time, at least 3 months.

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