Lingcod are one of the West Coast’s most popular fish to catch when targeting bottom fish when fishing saltwater. They can be found from Baja Mexico all the way up to Alaska. Lingcods do not actually belong to the cod family but rather the greenling family, which contains 5 varieties of species. Ling cods are one of the most aggressive fish and typically live along the bottom or near kelp beds or rock piles. They are one of the top apex predators within the waters of the west coast, armed with rows of sharp teeth, massive mouths and large eyes. They can grow to impressive sizes with females living up to 20 years and males up to 15 years. Ling cods can weigh up to as much as 60 pounds with a length of 1 meter or more!
The Best Time And Places To Fish Lingcod
Lingcod is one of the most exciting fishes to catch, especially for an in-shore fisherman! The structures lingcods prefer can be extremely dangerous so when exploring these areas please use caution. Since lingcod are bottom feeding ambush predators, look for structures such as reefs, rock jetties, breakwaters, pinnacles, and broken pools with good current flow and steep drop offs. Large underwater plateaus, with broken rock structures that provide hiding spots are good lingcod habitats. Look for areas with rocky bottoms, they prefer dark lairs where they can ambush prey easily.Lingcods can be fished literally anywhere from shallow to deep sea waters.
If fishing from the shore, target shallow areas and cover as much water as possible before making your way to the deeper waters. Keep in mind that Lingcods usually rest along the bottom before striking, so keep your lure or bait close to the bottom. Lingcods will literally bite anything that comes near them, as that is what makes them an incredible species to target. If there are no bites after a couple casts, move on!
Lingcods can be caught throughout the day, however what is more important is the timing of the tides when fishing for ling cod. Look for tide that has medium flow, this allows for the perfect feeding opportunities as the tide will flush out prey.
Lingcod are not migratory fish, so you can usually catch them in the same areas. In the early fall you will have better chances of hooking a lingcod from shore as they begin moving in-shore to spawn. Look for faster currents and rocky areas, as these are Lingcods favorite breeding grounds. Between December and March, male Lingcods are extremely aggressive and will protect their nests.
Tips To Catch Lingcod
When fishing for lingcod it is always suggested that you use heavier tackle than if fishing for other species within the same areas. Due to the fact that longcods live in areas with a lot of broken rocks and sharp terrain, not to mention the razor sharp teeth that can chomp through your line or bait!
We suggest using heavier line as this can cut through kelp or stop a lingcod from running into its lair and cutting your line on the sharp rocks below. Use a line that is rated in the 20-40 pound range when in-shore fishing.
There are a number of lures that will entice them. Due to their aggressive nature, they will attack lures of any size, so it is best to start off with medium sized lures then working your way to the larger sizes for visibility. These following lures are great for lingcod fishing: any type of large jigs (single tail or double tail grubs in the 4” to 6” range), swim-baits, buzz-bombs, large spoons. Remember that lingcods are aggressive biters so be ready to set the hook any moment you feel tension.
Baits also work great with lingcods. Use full large size herring or anchovies while drifting through areas in a boat or attach them as a bottom rig when shore fishing.
As lingcods have lots of spikes and razor sharp teeth, it is best to use gloves to handle these fish and a large net to help land these fish.
Average sizes: between 5-30lbs with some going over 80lbs. They can grow up to 60 inches (150 centimeters)
Habitat and temperature: Live in shallow and deep waters, preferring areas with rock bottoms.
Biology: Adult lingcod spawn seasonally starting in late winter. Spawning usually takes place between December and April in shallow waters between 3 to 10 meters in depth over rocky reefs with strong tidal currents. Males become seually mature at the age of 2, while females become sexually mature between 3 and 5 years of age. Males migrate as early as September to near-shore spawning grounds to secure their territory. Once at the nesting site, females often deposit an egg mass of 40,000 to 500,000 eggs within cracks and cavities.