The Lingcod, Ophiodon elongatus, or ling cod, is a fish of the greenling family Hexagrammidae. It is the only extant member of the genus Ophiodon. A slightly larger, extinct species, Ophiodon ozymandias, is known from fossils from the Late Miocene of Southern California.
Ophiodon elongatus is native to the North American west coast from Shumagin Islands in the Gulf of Alaska to Baja California, Mexico. It has been observed up to a size of 152 cm (60 in) and a weight of 59 kg (130 lbs). It is spotted in various shades of grey. The lingcod is a popular eating fish, and is thus prized by anglers. Though not closely related to either ling or cod, the name "lingcod" originated because it somewhat resembles those fish. The lingcod's flesh is sometimes blue-green prior to cooking.
Lingcod are unique to the west coast of North America. They are found on the bottom, with most individuals occupying rocky areas at depths of 10 to 100 m (32 to 328 feet). Tagging studies have shown lingcod are a largely nonmigratory species, with colonization and recruitment occurring in localized areas only.
Starting in October, lingcod migrate to near-shore spawning grounds. The males migrate first, and establish nest sites in strong current areas in rock crevices or on ledges. Spawning takes place between December and March, and females leave the nest site immediately after depositing eggs. Males actively defend the nest from predators until the eggs hatch in early March through late April.
Females and males mature at age three to five years (61–75 cm) and two years of age (45 cm), respectively. An adult male can be distinguished externally from a female by the presence of a small, conical papilla behind the anal vent. Up to age two, males and females grow at similar rates, with both reaching an average length of 45 cm. After age two, females grow faster than males, with the growth of males tapering off at about age eight, and females continuing to grow until about age 12 to 14. Lingcod live a maximum of about 14 years for males and 20 years for females, reaching a maximum size of approximately 90 cm and 120 cm, respectively. Off Alaska, many reach 70 pounds (32 kilograms).
Lingcod are voracious predators, feeding on nearly anything they can fit in their mouths, including invertebrates and many species of fish, such as herring, Clupea harengus, salmon and Pacific hake, Merluccius productus. One of their favorite foods are smaller octopuses, and they will also readily devour large rockfish. Lingcod that survive the larval stages have few predators themselves, and are vulnerable mainly to marine mammals, such as sea lions and harbor seals.
How to Catch Lingcod While Fishing out of Southern California
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