I had heard of cod jigging before my trip to Newfoundland and made it clear that I was not going home without trying it myself.
You see the thing is, I grew up inland. Ontario, Canada is a long way from any ocean and as the son of farmers, we never ate fish. Ever. It’s something I have been training myself to enjoy over the last few years as so many places I travel too offer fish as main dishes.
The other thing is, I’m not exactly the biggest fan of fishing. Sitting in a boat, mosquitoes biting you, waiting for some fish you can’t see to bite a worm on a hook and bring him in, only to throw it back in and start the process all over again. I’m an optimist so I am aware of the reasons people love fishing but for me, it just does nothing.
Nevertheless, day four of our Newfoundland road trip found us headed to the ever so quaint, Twillingate! Located in central Newfoundland, this region is full of beautiful lakes, mini islands, lakeside cabins and more character than I could dream up. This, was the Newfoundland I had imagined!
Our itinerary directed us to Prime Berth Fishing Heritage Centre. (Yep – that’s a link to go check them out.) It was here that we met David Boyd, better known, and fittingly so, as Capt. Dave. What a gem! Created as a tribute to his fisher forefathers (and foremothers), Prime Berth provides visitors with a history and understanding of the heritage of Newfoundland fishing. Capt. Dave and his wife Christine not only give tours out on the water but have built an interactive experience that educates us about the sea and it’s important role in our society.
Walking through Prime Berth I loved seeing all the steps of fishing once the fish have been brought in from the catch, and seeing a massive reconstructed whale skeleton. I’m pretty much an expert on Newfoundland fishing now – just sayin’.
But hold up, I’m sorry. I’m prolonging the story of why I came here in the first place. The most exciting part. The cod jigging. No, even better: BROCK COD JIGGING.
Basically, here’s how it works. You show up, you look around the centre exhibits, Capt. Dave hops in a boat with you and you’re off to the open water to catch yourself some cod.
Easy peasy right?
Everything was going as planned and expected until Capt. Dave decided to mix things up a bit. You see, I like to get great content. The perfect shot and moment of the adventure, so I always tell my guide in advance what I’d like to capture and ask that they give me the full experience. I’ve learnt that sometimes, that gets me into trouble.
Capt. Dave puts everyone into the boat but stops me. ‘Put these on, they’ll keep the fish off your clothes‘ he says. In his hands are pair of fishing bib pants.
‘Oh, I’ll be fine’ I reply knowing I’m going to look like a dork, not to mention you could easily fit 3 of me into these things.
‘You said you wanted the full experience.’ He smiles and winks.
So I’m climbing into the boat dawning my fabulous green bib pants and as Capt. Dave revs the engine and takes off, I know I’m in store for a whole lot of awesome.
Though the waters were rough, we found one of his favourite spots and were soon in full ‘Cod Jigging’ mode.
‘But Brock, you haven’t told us what Cod Jigging is. What is it?’
First, there’s no rod. You simply throw a piece of fishing line with some hooks on the end into the water and let it sink to the bottom. Then, you sharply tug (or jig) on the line as you bring it back up to the surface. Hopefully, along the way, you snag a cod.
Each of us took a turn trying this process and one by one, we pulled up some cod. I’m prettysure my aunt caught the biggest. Consider this your trophy and bragging rights T!
When it came my turn, I tried a few times and like the rest, I was eventually successful, pulling up a beautiful cod fish. The fun however doesn’t end there.
Anyone I told about my trip to Newfoundland and my plan to go cod jigging told me I had to ceremoniously ‘kiss the cod’.
In my opinion, this is a total gag Newfies play on tourists. I mean really, you think they kiss every cod they bring in? Nevertheless, I wanted the full experience and to prove that I not only caught the cod but kissed it right on it’s big fishy lips.
As I lined up the squirming fish, I pushed our lips together and waited for my aunt and mom to take the picture. Laughs, waves and far too many justifiable seconds of me kissing a slimy fish went by before I was given confirmation that the photo had been taken.
My mom and aunt are tricksters you see and later confessed that they had gotten the photo I wanted the first try but decided to let me look like an ass for as long as they could. (I shall wait until the opportune time to get my revenge ladies! Buckle up.)
A perk of cod fishing at Prime Berth is that you get to take your catch home with you and Capt. Dave guts and cleans the fish for you. He’s quite the gentleman.
Our experience was easily one of the most fun and hilarious adventures we’d had in a while. Being tossed around in the fishing boat, jigging some fishing lines, and belly laughing to the stories and antics of Capt. Dave, our time at Prime Berth Fishing Heritage Centre was one we will never forget.
We thanked Capt. Dave for sharing his passion and heritage with us and headed home to our lakeside cabin to enjoy some freshly cooked (and caught) cod!
You can try cod jigging and meet the infamous Capt. Dave by visiting the Prime Berth Fishing Heritage Centre website or by calling: +1.709.884.2485. No fishing experience required, just be ready to have a good time!
A special thanks to Adventure Central Newfoundland for arranging this adventure, as well as Capt. Dave and his wife Christine for making us feel so welcome!