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Lingcod fishing along the Pacific Ocean's West Coast can be awesome, if you know where to fish for lingcod and know what lingcod fishing lure or bait to use. At Ling Cod Fishing learn the lifecycle of Pacific lingcod, latin name, Ophiodon elongatus.

Lingcod live throughout the West Coast, from Alaska's Aleutian Islands, throughout British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California & down the west coast of Baja Mexico. Female lingcod can reach weights exceeding 100 pounds, while male lingcod seldom reach weights over 15 pounds.

Tagging studies show that lingcod are largely non migratory and colonize or "recruit" in localized areas. Lingcod live on the bottom, but may feed throughout the water column. And unlike many other bottom fish species like rockfish, lingcod do not have an air bladder, which enables them to freely swim up and down the water column without injury. Sport or commercial anglers can haul lingcod from depths of 500-feet or more to the surface and release them unharmed.

During fall months lingcod move from their rocky, often times steep bottom areas to nearshore areas to spawn. Males migrate first, and establish a site with strong currents and rocky crevices, ledges or rock outcropping. Spawning takes place sometime between December and March, depending area and water temperatures. After depositing their eggs in a sticky mass in a rocky crevice near bottom, the females leave the area immediately, leaving male lingcod to guard the nest. When guarding the lingcod egg nest, the male lingcod will attack anything, including lures that invade their territory. Predators attempting to eat lingcod eggs will be in for a fight against the male lingcod. The lingcod eggs will hatch in early March through late April or early May, depending on area and when the female lingcod laid her eggs.

When hatched, the tiny lingcod larvae become pelagic (any water not close to the bottom is the pelagic zone). In late May through early June juvenile lingcod settle to the bottom, near eel grass beds. Eventually they will move to non-typical areas for older lingcod, usually flat, sandy areas. They will remain in these flat, sandy areas for up to three years before "recruiting" to typical lingcod habitat consisting of pinnacles, rocky outcroppings, steep ledges or other areas with "underwater hydraulic relief zones." These areas have current that sweeps over them, along with unsuspecting baitfish and rockfish. The relief zone is the area on the back side of the rock or ledge, where lingcod wait to ambush their prey.

When feeding, lingcod attack their prey and especially enjoy chasing anything that flees from their rows of sharp teeth. In the underwater world of lingcod, it is an "eat or be eaten" world. Lingcod will even eat their younger, smaller brothers, sisters or cousins.

Anyone who's fished for lingcod will experience a "ride along" "hitch hiker" "cling-on" or "tight face." This happens when you or someone else on your boat hooks a fish and then a lingcod grabs it and hangs on, all the way to the boat. Once at the boat, wise anglers leave the lingcod underwater and do not lift their head out of the water before netting or gaffing them. If you raise their head out of the water they will release their prey. However, if they do let go, send the bait back down, often times the lingcod will grab it again. Lingcod are not the smartest fish in the ocean, but they are tasty.

Female lingcod can live for dozens of years, while male lingcod live a maximum of just 14 years. Marine mammals such as sea lions and harbor seals are a lingcod's main enemy. One marine mammal can devastate a lingcod population in an fairly large area.

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This page last updated: April 21, 2014

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