*Sharper Hooks*
*Tighter Lines*
Lingcod

 

 

 



Information & facts

Lingcod

lingcod

Latin Name
Ophiodon elongatus

Group Name
Groundfish

Habitat

Native to the northeastern Pacific, lingcod occur from Alaska's Kodiak Island down to Baha California, with a particularly large concentration near the coast of British Columbia off Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands, and in the Strait of Georgia, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound. Lingcod prefer rocky areas, living on the bottom of the ocean from intertidal depths to about 100 metres.

Species Description

Lingcod are not a true cod. They have an elongated body with a long dorsal fin, and are generally a mottled brown, but can be grey, green or reddish-brown-even bluish. Their colouration gets lighter on their underside. Scales cover their body except for their head. Highly predatory, lingcod also have a very large mouth filled with sharp teeth. They can grow to more than a metre in length and weigh more than 30 kilograms, with females growing significantly larger than males (which rarely exceed 90 centimetres). Males live to about 14 years and females live to about 20 years.

lingcod
Lingcod is one of the most prized fish, native to the North American coast, for the thrill of the game, but also for its taste.

Although it’s not closely related to ling, nor cod, lingcod has earned its name due to quite a resemblance to both these fish.

Lingcod fishing has its specifics. So, if you want to put this fish on your trophy list, here are a few things to know about it.

Lingcod – Habitat and Habits

Lingcod are popular in the North American west coast waters, widespread from Shumagin Islands of the Alaskan Gulf, and down to Baja California, with a peak concentration just off the coast of British Columbia. They are benthic fish, and are often a bycatch for anglers who target other bottom feeding fish, such as halibut.

They prefer rocky bottoms, however, depending on the stage of their life, lingcod can be found in different habitats, and at different depths. For example, the juvenile lingcod are usually found in eel grass beds or kelp beds, and as they grow, they move to areas with sandy bottoms. Adult lingcod prefer reef and rocky areas with structure, and tend to live a territorial life. Also, strong tidal currents seem to be one of the habitat preferences of lingcod.

Although most anglers who target lingcod look for them in places offshore, with depths up to 350 ft., decent ones can still be caught in relatively shallow waters, between 25-30 ft.

How to fish for Lingcod

Lingcod are aggressive feeders and that’s one of the main reasons jigging, of fishing with various lures can produce excellent results. Still fishing and down-dropping with cut or live bait are however, the most used fishing methods for this particular fish.

In case you choose to drift while fishing for lingcod, it’s best to find a place where the current will take you from shallow to deeper water and not the other way around. Also, since lingcod seem to prefer certain structure types in an area, it’s a very good idea to mark a waypoint on your chartplotter wherever you catch one. Each spot where you catch one, has a good chance to be a lingcod lair, and provide you with one, two or more fish in the future.

Bait and Lures for Lingcod

Lingcod are aggressive predators and don’t shy away from big prey. In fact, due to their territorial nature, they sometimes attack fish just as big as they are, so you may be surprised that you may catch one not much bigger than the lure itself. Therefore don’t be afraid to use bigger lures. In terms of lures, large, shiny, silver jigs are always a good call. They don’t need to be extra fancy, and they don’t require a lot of action, just bounce them near the bottom. Diamond jigs or Norwegian Cod jigs (between 12-20oz) are great choices, but you can also go with some squid or octopus imitation jigs.

When it comes to natural baits, large live mackerel is one of the best choices an angler can make. Sardines, sand dabs, shrimp and squid are also great baits to use.

Tackle for Lingcod

Rods. Depending on the size of the fish you’re targeting, and the weight of the lure (or sinker), different rods may be required. For example, if you’re going for deep, offshore waters, it’s best to choose a “beefy” rod, between 5’6″ – 6’6″. A Penn H Bluewater Long Grip Carnage Rod (6-Feet 6-Inch/30-80-Pound) or a Daiwa Crossfire CFE661MHFS 6'6 inch Spinning are two good choices.

If you’re going for shallower waters, and targeting smaller fish, a medium or medium-rod can also do.

Reels. Although spinning reels can do just fine, while fishing for lingcod, it’s best to opt for a conventional reel, because they typically offer a better line capacity. An Okuma 5.1:1 Classic Pro Star Drag Reel 2 Bearings, or Penn General Purpose Level Wind Reel, 350-Yard/30-Pound are excellent choices.

 

Line. Braided is hands-down, the best choice in terms of line, for lingcod. That’s because it doesn’t stretch and you have a great feel of the bait / lure when fishing. Since for any bottom-feeding fish, it’s best to start from 30lb. pound test, that should also be the minimum limit for lingcod.

Leader and rigs. Lingcod do have teeth, therefore wire leader is never a bad choice. However, 40-60 lb. test mono also works just fine. When it comes to rigs, there’s a wide variety to choose from, depending on the bait used. Live bait rigs, herring rigs, monster rigs, Carolina rig versions or spider rigs. No matter what rig you use, make sure your bait remains live and fresh for as long as possible.

Hooks. Even though many lures come with treble hooks attached, these are not a necessity for lingcod. In fact, by using treble hooks, you increase the chances of your lure or bait to snag on something, which may result in the loss of terminal tackle or lure. 5/0 – 7/0 J-hooks for live mackerel, or other fish should do. However, other baits such as 

More Resources on Lingcod Fishing

I hope that the information provided on this page makes you a better lingcod angler. In case you’d still like to continue your research into lingcod fishing I put together the below list of resources. They should be sufficient for expanding your knowledge base.