Home Fishing Tips & Advice How to Catch a Lingcod

How to Catch a Lingcod

With those distinctive rows of sharp teeth and a look that gives them the appearance of an underwater sea monster, Lingcod has always been a top choice for anglers looking for a bit of challenge. Often known as buffalo cod, Lingcod are commonly found on the western coast of the US, particularly in the colder waters of Washington state and Alaska. They are delicious to eat and fun to catch, which gives anglers that extra dose of motivation on their outings. Every Lingcod puts up an aggressive fight and makes excellent table food.

Wondering how to catch a lingcod with ease? Don’t be intimidated by the look of this fish or the stories you read on the web. In our guide, we’ll tell you where to find them, when to catch them, and everything you need to make your fishing excursion a total success.

Where to Find Lingcod

Lingcod are a highly desirable fish for anglers for several reasons, but they are not native to most regions of North America. Where can you typically find a Lingcod? Generally, you’ll find Lingcod off the cold Pacific waters off of states like Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. They can also be found off the coast of certain regions of California. When you find yourself fishing in one of these regions, you’ll want to keep Lingcod habitat in mind.

For the most part, you’re going to find Lingcod where there are imposing rocks, boulders, and cliffs. They are partial to jagged bottoms with craggy crevasses. Within these rocky systems, the fish like to lie in wait, camouflaging until they can fully ensnare their prey. Due to the fact that Lingcod prefers to stick to these rocky areas, most anglers elect to fish them using the drift-fishing technique. With this practice, you simply drift over Lingcod habitats. In due time, you’ll spot a portion of the water heavy with Lingcod and the fish will latch onto the bait as if in the midst of a feeding frenzy.

The general rule of thumb: stick to anywhere with rocky structures or jagged rocky bottoms.

Best Time of Day to Catch a Lingcod

One of the most appealing aspects of fishing for this species is that they don’t seem to operate under typical fishing hours. With most fish, anglers are often forced to fish wee hours of the morning hours or after dusk. Afternoon fishing would yield few results, even if that was a desirable time of day. With Lingcod, the rules simply do not apply. Unlike most fish, Lingcod will consistently bite no matter what time of day. In fact, the time of day has little bearing on when to catch a Lingcod.

Instead, this fish species is far more affected by the elements. Weather and ocean conditions often bear a larger effect on when a Lingcod will be active rather than the time of day. Still, some anglers do suggest that they fare better in the hours before 10 am. In terms of seasonality, the spawning season lasts from around December until early spring. This can prove a pretty profitable time for anglers. Just search for the rocky sites mentioned above and you will find plenty of males looking to bite your line.

How to Catch a Lingcod

Now that we’ve established when and where to catch a Lingcod, let’s get down to the meat and potatoes: how to catch a Lingcod. After all, it doesn’t help much to know where to find this gnarly looking fish if you can’t actually reel one in for dinner. Let’s examine the best practices when it comes to catching a Lingcod.

Fish to the Bottom

The first rule of thumb when snagging Lingcod is to routinely fish to the floor or bottom of the water. As mentioned above, this is one species that tends to linger along the rough jagged floor in order to indulge in prey. That means you’ll need to harmonize with their world when fishing by bringing whatever bait you choose to their level. If your bait isn’t close enough tot he bottom, you won’t get any bites. For the most part, you need to feel your bait stroke on the surface. As soon as you feel your bait touch the bottom, reel up gradually until it is just hovering a few inches above.

Use a Gentler Hook Set

Another best practice when catching a Lingcod has to do with your hookset. You’re going to want to opt for a more subdued set than you might otherwise choose when fishing for other species. The reason? Experienced anglers have found that when a Lingcod lunges for bait they customarily take the entire thing into their mouths. Since your hook will go right through the bait, any powerful movement will alarm the fish and it will promptly spit your hook from its mouth. While you may be tempted to go with a thrashing set, use a gentler set or a slower retrieve method to set the hook. Otherwise, you could catch a Lingcod only to lose it seconds later. Not exactly good for morale.

Vertical Jigging

Vertical jigging is unconditionally paramount when you are looking to learn how to catch a lingcod. In fact, it may be the most necessary practice of any we mention. It is a savage and prosperous method for targeting Lingcod of all sizes. The general up and down motion of jigging rapidly capture the consideration of the fish, allowing you to score a big yield.

When you jig, simply move the lure up and down in 4-foot increments. Keep jigging and don’t stop. Hover your lure over a hotspot and be steady with movement. If you’re devoted to your jigging, you will prompt several Lingcod strikes within a few minutes. This should hands down be your go-to ploy for fishing Lingcod.

Don’t Be Afraid To Go Deeper

Want a prize-winning Lingcod worthy of being mounted on the wall? Well, you’ll want to go deeper than you typically would when fishing. Female fish tend to be a bit larger than their male counterparts. Unfortunately, they don’t tend to hang out at the same depths. Female fish only frequent waters at depths of 150 feet or below. If you want to catch a female Lingcod, you can’t be afraid to go deeper. Just keep in mind that you will need to utilize a heavyweight set up in order to make it to this depth. Once you can achieve this depth, you’ll likely reel in some true trophy fish.

Best Bait for Lingcod

Catching these fish takes plenty of technique, but it also necessitates the right bait. What is the most valuable type of bait to use when trying to catch Lingcod? Based on experience, live bait will do you more favors than artificial bait or dead bait. Both will work in their own way, but you won’t enjoy the same success. Generally, live bait such as squid and anchovies should be the go-to standards. To float your line to the bottom, use weight, and then follow our recommendation to touch the floor and pull up just a little bit off the surface of the floor.

Which of the above baits will prove the most promising? Most cite enjoying massive success with squid (either live or frozen). Anchovies can also work if you choose to jig and utilize the methods we outlined above. As we mentioned you can use artificial bait and saltwater lures if you want, but live bait will garner more success.

Best Lures for Lingcod

Now that we’ve touched on bait, let’s tackle the best lures. Generally speaking, swimbaits work well along with jigs. Using an amazing jig lure is a solid choice when looking to fish for this species. Lingcod seems to be drawn to flashy jigs that hit right along the bottom or just above (no more than a few inches). However, you’ll want to use jig lures that do not catch on the bottom. This can lead to issues with your line and quite a few unnecessary headaches.

There are also plenty of optimal rigs that can prove handy, including alloy and lead head jigs. Herring jigs are also quite efficient. Keep in mind that when it comes to jig lures, the broader your jig is, the higher the likelihood that you’ll land a large prize sized Lingcod. While meager rigs can still work, you will ordinarily end up with a more moderate-sized catch. There’s nothing wrong with this, it just doesn’t suit the needs of some sports fishers looking for that big fish.

The Bottom Line

Fishing for Lingcod can be an exciting and enthralling experience fraught with satisfaction. While some anglers can be intimidated by these fish, most find that when using the right techniques, knowing where to look, and keeping the bait in mind, they can score a fish that is worthy of bragging about. Utilize jigging methods and try to go with live bait whenever possible. You’ll be scoring Lingcod in no time!

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