Got to agree with those of you saying how you wouldn't be so keen on December Cod fishing nowadays, as you once were. Personally I often struggle to hold a hook with the fingers on my left hand even in warm weather.
Also agree with the summer fishing being so much better today than it was back then. In my locality, Bass were rare, Thornbbacks were mythical and Smoothounds well I'm not actually sure I'd even heard of them when I was 22 years of age?
Some of the sessions I've had in recent years on the Bass have been extremely enjoyable and memorable. Hounds were fun for the first 6 sessions, after that they were predictable and I was bored of catching what felt like the same fish over and over again. 83 Soles in a summer season was extremely enjoyable and something I will never forget or repeat. The 23lb Stingray that I targeted and caught on my last cast from an otherwise deserted and hot Suffolk beach at 2.30a.m. August 2021, is one the undisputed high points of my angling life and one I often re-live with joy and appreciation for having experienced such an alien like encounter.
However, none of those angling experiences come near to the feeling of fishing for Cod into a fresh/strong onshore Easterly in December, sleet flurries in the air and no other idiot on the beach, that's how I liked it. The rod tips jumping around as they are buffeted by wind and waves, until one of them simply drops back straight as a Cod hits the bait, feels the lead and swims in the opposite direction of this pressure it feels, which is of course towards the shore. Rod grabbed, you reel like the clappers to try and catch up with the fish and wish for all you are worth that it is still on? Suddenly the line tightens and the rod bends way over, the Cod has decided it was running out of water and started heading back to the depths. You feel heavy thumps right through the rod as you raise and lower it in response to the fish as it bores away, as you do not wish to risk putting on too much pressure and ripping the hook out. It's tired now and only a few yards out, still thumping as you hold it in that last yard of water behind those big crashing breakers, you wait for the right wave to bring it up the beach. Then finally the fish glides towards you and permits you to surf it in on the crunching swell, but the wave recedes and the fish goes with it, so you are forced to give line or risk a breakage somewhere within your set-up. Slowly with each wave you are able to inch it higher upon the shore, until finally you run through the surf and grab the still thrashing beast, insert your hand inside the gill cover and lift it just as the next wave hits your waders and splashes up and over leaving you almost as wet as the fish.
Back at base camp, you put the rod into the rest and attempt to unhook this creature from the depths, attempt being the optimum word, as your hands are shaking so much you simply cannot complete this normally simple task. You are alone, soaked by a combination of sleet and saltwater, you cannot feel either your fingers or your toes, but to quote my mother 'you're as happy as a pig in sh1t'.
That is why I personally consider winter Cod fishing to be the most enjoyable angling experience of my life.