Types of baits:
Lingcod are not shy when it comes to gobbling up an assortment of prey. Typical baits
for Lingcod include:
1. Live bait:
Live bait is irresistible to Lingcod. This can consist of anchovies or squid
simply deposited on j-hooks.
2. Shrimp Flies:
Flies are a real favorite among bottom fishing anglers due to their ease of use. Flies from manufacturers like
Black Belt and Jorgenson are very productive for a wide range of rock fish.
These flies are usually no more then ribbon, feathers, or plastic grubs on
hooks. It is common for multiple types of fish to come up on the same line when
fishing is hot.
Fishing regulations often change for the maximum number of hooks, so depending on
current rules anglers may need to cut off one of their flies. Most of the time
smaller Lings hit flies, while the larger fish are more attracted to more
3. Jigs: Lingcod
jigs come in a million sizes, shapes, and colors. these heavy baits are designed
to reach the bottom quickly and usually sport treble hooks on the bottom of the
jig. These baits can range from solid metal bars to minnow shaped flashers with
holographic tape, and time tested diamond jigs. Some anglers prefer to customize
their lures with special paints, reflective tapes, and enlarged hooks.
4. Combos: It is
common to double up techniques to increase the effectiveness of these lures. If
you are fishing a jig with little success you can add a shrimp fly on top of the
jig, this is called a "teaser." Many anglers that prefer the snag free
fishing of shrimp flies will hook pieces of squid or anchovies on their flies in an
effort to lure more substantial Ling to strike.
jigging is a test of patience and perseverance as anglers must navigate
rocky structure deep below (jigs can range from simple diamond jigs [left],
to flashy Yozuri jigs [right])
The Tackle: Lingcod tackle can go two routes depending on your favorite
bottom fishing techniques. Some anglers relish the fight and prefer lighter 6 to
7 foot rods with thin stiff tips and mid sized butt sections so that every
vibration while bouncing their jigs on the ocean floor can be clearly felt. Seeker and
Loomis make a variety of these "finesse" deepwater jigging rods. Then there are
anglers who want more muscle in their rods and are willing to sacrifice
sensitivity for sheer power. These rods are excellent for fishing live bait and
flies when multiple bottom fish hookups are common. Examples of these mammoth
rods can be found in product lines from offerings like Fenwick Pacific Sticks, Calstar
West Coasts, and the ever popular Shakespeare Ugly Stiks.
I recently compared a number
of rods in both the finesse and power categories and found the Loomis Pelagic
series rods excellent for jigging thanks to ease of casting, excellent
sensitivity, and surprising power available when you hook into those big Lings.
For sheer power at the right price the Shakespeare Ugly Stik is still the king of the
pack. These rods are built "ugly tough" and provide a good match up for even the
largest of Lings.
The reel you choose for
Lingcod fishing depends on the depth of your quarry. If you plan to fish shallow
waters (anything up to 50 feet) you can go with a small conventional Shimano
Calcutta or Daiwa Millionaire, this allows you to finesse the lure and cast
farther with less effort. On the other hand if you plan to fish in deep waters
(50-100+ feet) you will need a larger reel for more line capacity and cranking
power. Good reel choices include Penn Graphite, Senators, and Internationals or
Shimano Charter Special, TLD, or Trinidad reels. Most importantly pick a heavy
duty saltwater rated reel that makes use of no corrosive metals like magnesium.
Reels can be spooled up with 20-40lb mono line or braided line which is top-shotted
with mono or fluorocarbon. As with all saltwater tackle it is a good idea to
wash all your gear thoroughly in freshwater after each trip.
line to control the fall rate and positioning of your jig
Fishing with shrimp flies is as easy as lowering your flies to the bottom of the
ocean and waiting, once in a while changing depths if there is no action. If you
fish flies with no success for an extended period try changing to brighter
flashier flies, or adding a piece of squid on the lure.
stark contrast to shrimp flies, requires the angler be constantly active and
aware of the position of the jig. Advanced anglers can navigate a jig along the
rock bottom, effectively avoiding major snag ups. The beginner may find jigging
to be frustrating, and expensive, if they are constantly snagged up and donating
jigs to the ocean floor. As with all fishing, practice leads to more hookups and
an uncanny ability to work snagged lures off the rocky outcroppings below. There
are a lot of jigs on the market but my number one choice without a doubt is the
old fashioned diamond jig. This lure can be fished with success off the shelf or
can be dressed up with holographic tape and a bucktail on your treble hook.
When your chosen jig is rigged and
ready go ahead and cast away from the boat and allow the jig to sink to the
bottom. Some anglers will drastically slow the rate of the fall by putting the
reel in gear or clamping down on the line. I find a better technique is to
lightly thumb the spool and control the drop. Once the jig touches down on the
bottom tighten up any slack and pull up on your rod, this will bring the jig up
and closer to the boat. Once the jig settles again reel in the slack line and
repeat the process until the jig is directly under you, at this point simply
retrieve the lure vertically and start again. At any point in the process if you
feel a thump or feel the lure fail to settle, set he hook!
mangles this fly before breaking free
One you are hooked up with flies hold onto your rod and reel up in a constant
steady motion, don't pump your rod. One of the reasons I like to use heavy duty
braided lines (though many party boats don't like them because they can be nasty
to untangle) is because Lings will often try and run into the rocky structure
resulting in sliced mono lines. When fighting Lings make sure at all time your
drag is not set all the way up as big fish can yank the rod right out of your
hands if they bolt away from the boat. While fishing for Lings you will
undoubtedly hook up an array of rockfish. One of the most exciting things about
bottom fishing is you just quite aren't sure what you have hooked into until it
comes close to surfacing. A couple times I fought fish that I was sure were
Lings and later turned out to be huge Cabezons. If you are lucky enough to see a
Ling surfacing at the end of your line do your best to keep the fish's head in
the water. Not only can Lings fight all the way up but they have a nasty habit
of initiating huge bursts of thrashing and diving as they break the surface. If
the Ling is too small (check your local regulations) you can try and shake him
off or pull him into the boat to be unhooked. If it is a lunker then yell for
up a good sized Ling taken on a plain diamond jig
Conclusion: Lingcod fishing is extremely exciting for both amateur and
experienced anglers. Beginners will relish the simplicity of fishing with shrimp
flies while more seasoned Ling anglers have deep sea jigging down to an art.
While it isn't impossible to catch a large Ling on flies, the largest Lings are
usually taken by jigging. Finding good fishing areas can often be tricky in
itself, and I always recommend that you charter a party boat that specializes in
locating good rock fishing. Lingcod are strong fish that will get your heart
pumping and your muscles aching as you constantly reel in from the depths.
Though many consider Lingcod among the ugliest fish in the sea, when you find
yourself holding up that trophy catch only one word comes to mind....beautiful.