Lingcod is a Pacific species whose scientific name – Ophiodon elongatus – says it all. Its roots – the Greek “ophis” for snake, “odons” for tooth, and the Latin word “elongatus” or elongated – provides a fitting description for this odd-looking fish. The only thing not serpentine about this bottom-dweller is its large head, which is why it is also known as “Buckethead.”
Lingcod live in rocky seafloor habit and camouflage themselves in mottled colours ranging from mustard yellow and deep browns to varied greys and dark greens. The local marine environment often influences its colouring and markings. Fresh lingcod fillets have a natural blue-green shimmer that disappears with cooking. It’s mild flavour and dense flesh is a favourite for fish and chips.
Starting in October, lingcod begin to migrate to spawning grounds near the shore. The males lead the way, establishing nests in rock crevices or on ledges with strong currents. The females follow, laying between 150,000 and 500,000 eggs, but then immediately take off. Male lingcod are left to guard the nest from predators until the eggs hatch from early March to late April. Larvae initially inhabit eelgrass beds and then move to flat sandy areas. Young lingcod remain in shallower depths for several years, but eventually settle in similar habitats to older lingcod. The species lives for 14 to 20 years and averages about 10 pounds (4.53 kg). The largest lingcod on record is almost 60 inches (152 cm) long, weighing in at just over 80 pounds (36.3 kg).
This fishery uses hooks, lures and lines, trailed behind vessels at low speed, to catch lingcod. Each lingcod is individually hooked and hauled aboard by hand.
Bottom Longline with Hooks
This fishery uses a bottom longline that is baited with hooks and anchored to the ocean floor. A longline can be from 1 to 3 miles (1.6 to 5 km) long and have up to 2,000 hooks.