Lingcod

The lingcod is a bottom dwelling, medium sized top predator of the Atlantic coast of USA.
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Where and When?

Lingcod are mostly a cold water species distributed along the Pacific coastline of North America from the Shumagin Islands in Alaska southwards to Baja, California. The greatest concentrations, however, are found offBritish Columbia andWashington State. Adult lingcod are almost always associated with bottom “structure” and generally the better the structure the more lingcod there are around it. While they may be found from the intertidal zone right down to 470 metres, most fish appear to live within 10 to 100 metres depth. Fish living in deeper water congregate in late fall before moving shoreward to spawn and thus the best places to catch them changes from deeper waters to inshore. In several states there are limits on when fishing can take place, as well as size and bag limits, to protect spawning and ensure adequate recruitment. Generally, however, the species is thought to be sustainably managed and responsibly harvested.

About Lingcod

Lingcod (Ophiodon elongates) are generally a complex mottling of greys, browns with tinges of green and other colours. They have elongated bodies, large fins and massive mouths giving them the common name of “buckethead”. They earn this name not just by the size of the mouth but because the fish uses it to gulp in almost anything potentially suitable as food. The mouth contains a fearsome array of 18 large, sharp teeth that are used to retain prey that consists of fish, crabs, squid or any other living creature that comes within range. The female fish grow faster and live longer, overall, than males and they can attain 1.52 metres (5 feet) in length and 59.1 kilograms (130 lb) in weight. Female fish have been recorded to live 36 years while males manage about 8 and are usually smaller than females. Mark and recapture experiments show that Lingcod are locally resident but undergo shoreward migrations in late fall and spawn near the shoreline. Eggs are laid in rocky crags and males look after them for up to 10 weeks. Lingcod are neither ling nor cod but are the sole representatives of their own fish group.

How to Catch?

Lingcod are a voracious and enthusiastic ambush feeding fish and, if a bait can be brought close enough to them, then good sport can be had. The trick is to get the bait close enough to the fish without catching the structure, with which the fish will be associated, or stop it retreating into a sharp edged crevice that will cut the line. In suitable areas in places like Washington State there are excellent localities where lingcod may be caught from the shore but, in most regions, a boat is necessary to obtain good lingcod fishing. Possibly the simplest and most effective way to fish for lingcod is to locate suitable looking structure on the bottom and thendrift over it with whatever bait or lure you feel is most suitable. Due to their “catholic” taste in food a wide variety of baits and lures can be successful. Live bait is often very successful but so is jigging, using the swell to raise and lower the lure, or the use of a wide variety of natural baits.