- Page 8 -
|Lingcod belong to a family of fish called the Hexagrammids (or greenlings). Like halibut, this species is usually found on or near the bottom, most often over rocky reefs in areas of strong currents. While recorded to depths of over 1,000 feet, lingcod are most often caught at depths from 30 to 300 feet. These fish are an extremely aggressive predator, and can grow to over 50 pounds in weight and 4 feet in length.|
Lingcod have a unique life history. In Alaskan waters, lingcod begin to congregate for spawning from late December through early January with peak spawning occurring from February through April. During spawning, eggs are deposited in nests on rocky reefs affected by wave action or tidal currents. After the eggs are deposited and fertilized, the female lingcod disperse to deeper water, leaving the male lingcod to guard the nests from predators until the eggs hatch. Egg development typically takes from 7-12 weeks; however, studies have indicated that some nests were still being guarded near Resurrection Bay during late June. During this entire period of spawning and nest guarding, lingcod are extremely aggressive and vulnerable to harvest. Egg nests, if left unguarded, are quickly decimated by predators. The presence of a male to guard a nest appears essential for successful incubation.
After the eggs hatch, the larval lingcod float at the whims of the ocean current until they reach a length of about 3 inches. At this length, the juvenile lingcod settle on the bottom and begin to eat small fish. Growth is rapid and within 5 to 6 years they become sexually mature, reaching a length of about 32 inches. Adult lingcod are voracious, eating almost anything that comes their way including other lingcod. They can grow to large sizes with fish over 50 pounds being common in lightly fished stocks. Male and female lingcod grow at different rates. Adult mail lingcod tend to be smaller than adult females; many of the larger lingcod are typically females.
Being voracious, lingcod are relatively easy to catch. Most anglers use a medium stout rod and level-wind reel loaded with 200-400 yards of 30-80 pound test line with a 12-18 inch piece of wire or heavy monofilament leader. Many anglers prefer to use the heavier weight line and leader, as it is possible to hook into large halibut while fishing for lingcod. Terminal tackle usually consists of silvery lures or jigs aggressively "bounced" on the bottom to attract nearby fish. Many anglers also use bait, such as herring, attached to a size 5 or 6 "J-hook." It is not legal to use a whole, sport caught rockfish, alive or dead, as bait. Areas outside the Bay frequently fished for lingcod include Johnstone Bay, Cape Aialik, and Cape Resurrection.
Studies suggest that lingcod populations near Seward are depressed. In light of these studies, regulations have been developed that allow these depressed stocks to rebuild and remain healthy. Near Seward, Resurrection Bay (inside from a line between Cape Aialik to Cape Resurrection) has been closed year-round to lingcod fishing, including catch and release. Outside this line, a minimum size limit of 35 inches has been established for all Central Gulf of Alaska waters. This minimum size limit assures that lingcod have at least one opportunity to spawn prior to being subjected to harvest. Additionally, a closed season during the critical spawning and nest guarding periods (January 1 through June 30) has been established during which lingcod fishing, including catch and release, is prohibited. Lastly, conservative bag and possession limits have been enacted. For the area between Cape Puget to Gore Point, the bag and possession limit has been set at one (1). Outside this area, the bag and possession limits are 2 fish daily and 4 fish in possession. These measures were designed to rebuild the stock and provide for long term sustained harvest. Managers encourage anglers to practice catch-and-release. Lingcod, unlike rockfish, don not have an air bladder and can be released alive with a high chance of surviving.
All Content Copyright ©1996-98
Visual Media Design & Alaska Outdoor Journal
All Rights Reserved