Category Archives: Lingcod

big-westport-lingcod

Bob’s Big Ling

When you fish every single day, it is sometimes not easy to remember every little detail about every single trip, and that is exactly why I like to take photos. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and when I browse through the fishing pictures from days gone by, it helps me draw details from my memory bank. I found this photo today from a great day’s worth of fishing sometime last week.

We had a group of folks on board that were a pleasure to fish with, pictured above is Bob, one of the day’s guests. Bob showed up to the boat to chit chat about our trip the evening before, and I could sense he would be a fun one to have on the boat. He brought his own rod and reel, which isn’t uncommon, but rare that a guest would have the perfect setup for the targeted species (perfectly matched rod for the fishing method plus the same braided line that we use on our own rods).

Bob had a new rod that he wanted to try out, and I thought it would be perfect for today’s Lingcod & Rockfish adventure. Later in the day, when I saw Bob’s rod double down into a hefty Lingcod, I smiled a little, glad that he had a chance to nail a respectable fish on his new setup. I didn’t weigh nor did I measure this monster Lingcod that Bob caught out of Westport, but regardless of whether it was twenty or twenty-five pounds… it was a memorable fish, caught by a memorable Bob.

Point Grenville Lingcod & Sea Bass June 10

Today was yet another day of Salmon and Lingcod fishing. It was yet another day where salmon fishing was slow but fishing for Lingcod and Rockfish was fantastic. There were a few reports of Salmon caught, but most of the reports that we heard on the radio were of Wild Chinook that were released. We spent the morning fishing along the beach just south of the South Jetty at Westport, then we worked our way north. Three hours of trolling divers yielded two hooked Salmon, neither fish made it to the boat. So we picked up the gear and headed out to target Lingcod.

The Lingcod were very hungry today. As we drifted, we hooked Lingcod at a fairly fast pace. There were a few we kept that were just over two feet long, and a few that were fairly large. At the end of our first drift, I pitched a swimbait right up against an exposed rock and hooked the perfect sized live bait, a small Kelp Greenling. I rigged it on our backup rod, hopped up to the bow and dropped it down. As soon as I felt the tap-tap of the weight hit the bottom, the rod viciously doubled over. Grabbed by a Lingcod! I looked to the left, next to me was Gary… he had just landed a Ling. I looked back to the other side, there was Larry by the cabin… he hadn’t had a chance to tug on one yet. So I rounded to bow, all the while keeping tension on the Lingcod, but by the time I got over to Larry to hand the rod off, the fish was up and ready to be scooped. There it was, just two feet from the surface, it was a beautiful Blue Lingcod, gripping the back half of that small Greenling, swimming with a serpentine motion, oblivious to our motive. Net! I need a net over here! Ian scooped it and we had ourselves another keeper. We snapped a few photos, you know… for the archives, and threw it in the fish box. I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t get it over to Larry fast enough, but at least we had one for him to take home. My next goal was to get him on a nice Lingcod.

We fished throughout the noon hour, and our fish box was steadily filling up with bottomfish. Gary caught a beautiful Blue Cabezon, with coloring unlike any I’ve ever seen. We caught a bunch of Black Rockfish, a smallish Cabezon, some other Greenling, and a few other Lingcod.

Black Rockfish were easy to come by. We fished an area that definitely had quite a few of them around. We positioned just off of a hump that gradually came up to an exposed wash rock. At the beginning of each drift, we had sporadic bursts of action, some Lingcod, some Rockfish. At the end of each drift as we neared the wash rock, we would get into a decent Black Rockfish bite.

Ian hollered at me, “Look what I’ve got!” He smiled and held up a tiny Black Rockfish. Live bait! I headed back to the bow to join Larry, and dropped it down. He took the rod, eager to experience a live bait grab. We drifted and fished, the live bait rig didn’t produce. Larry was focused, he was ready. I noticed that everyone else, whom were fishing with swimbait/shrimp fly setups, was catching fish. I asked Larry if he wanted to switch, since the live bait had not produced, and he obliged. Not more than 60 seconds after we switched, I lifted into a Monster Lingcod.

The Ling forced the rod tip downward toward the water, an obvious beast. Larry gasped. I lifted into it, reeled steadily and handed the rod off. It was a struggle for me, then Larry, to manage such a beast. It definitely had the advantage. He could lift it about ten feet, slowly and steadily bringing it up, then it would rocket back to the seafloor.

After about five minutes of back and forth the rod went limp, Larry and I shared a sigh of disappointment. He reeled up to find that the Ling had sawed through the leader. Fifty pound monofilament leader. It was a beast. The beast won the battle.

While I don’t ever refer to myself as an expert in anything, working on a charter boat in Alaska, and having fished religiously for Lingcod in Washington for the past dozen years, I have seen some big fish. My personal best is 62 pounds (weighed on an official scale). While I don’t think this fish would’ve beaten that record, it definitely had more mass, more viciousness, and more fight than a 44 inch fish we released in Puget Sound a few weeks ago.

Regardless of any speculation, it was a nice fish.

Larry ended up getting a keeper Lingcod later that day so all was right with the world and our day on the water was filled with great moments.

Cape Elizabeth Sea Bass June 9

We fished again today on the Pacific Ocean out of Westport. First off, I am a true believer that honesty is the best policy; Salmon fishing sucked so we decided to show our guests some awesome Black Rockfish action today. Far to the north of Westport and the entrance to Grays Harbor, the flat beaches of Ocean Shores gradually give way to the rolling hills of Iron Springs and Moclips. Further north lays a wild and rugged coastline, one of towering cliffs, roaring beachside surf, sea stacks and rocky pinnacles, and some phenomenal inshore fishing. Few venture this far away from port, and the phenomenal fishing that is found closer to Ocean Shores and Westport make it difficult to justify the extra run time, but the scenery is unlike anywhere on the Washington Coast.

We reeled in our salmon trolling gear and headed north. The small native village of Taholah exists at the mouth of the Quinault River, and just north of there are the ominous cliffs of Cape Elizabeth. The entire area is nearly untouched by civilization. Aside from the rooftops of Taholah, I would guess that our view today was the nearly unchanged since George Vancouver sailed the HMS Discovery northward in the late 1700’s, exploring the wild unknown that is our Pacific Coast.

Today our discovery was a phenomenal school of aggressive Black Sea Bass.

No member of our crew had experienced fishing on Washington’s Coast before. Jen & Jessica were from Indiana, freshly graduated from university and on a month-long trek across the American West before returning home to begin their careers. Mike & Rebecca and their folks were out on the ocean near Westport for the first time. Captain Ian and I were both excited to share this special place with our guests. We made the long run and now it was time to find the fish.

After cruising around the inshore near the Cape for a bit, Ian located a healthy school of Black Rockfish on the sonar screen. The water was about thirty feet deep and the bottom was comprised of continuous rock piles and crevasses. We set up for the first drift and everyone had their rods readied. Short light-tackle spinning rods with a double shrimp fly setup.

Six lines were dropped and most of the rods were doubled over with fish before the dropper weight hit bottom. When folks experience the fast-paced fishing action that happens when we go after Rockfish, the one word that I think best describes their reaction is shock. They get bit well before they expect to, all of the memories of past fishing shortcomings flash through their mind, and they try to remember how to react. How can there still be a place where fishing is this good? Like the good ole days. Present tense, these are the good ole days. After the first few hefty Rockfish are lifted into the boat, those four pound slabs with their tails rapidly slapping the deck, the reality sets in that… YES THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING!.

Within fifteen minutes, we were ankle deep into Black Rockfish. Everyone reeled up. Ian fired up the motors to reposition for our second drift. I cleared the deck of fish, each fish was bled and tossed in the fish box. Thirty. Thirty fish in about fifteen minutes. Our next few drifts followed suit. More often than not, when I went to grab the fifty pound line we tie our dropper shrimp fly setups with, I would be lifting not one, but two Rockfish into the boat, one on each fly. This is the action we dream of, and the coastline in front of Cape Elizabeth offers it up.

I love taking folks out when they are here to experience something new and don’t know what to expect. When they are ready for an adventure and especially when we can show them some great fishing.

Another day in the books.

Westport Salmon & Lingcod Bonanza June 8

We spent another day fishing off the Washington Coast, searching for salmon and finding a few and exploring the remote inshore reefs near Point Grenville near Tahola, it was a great day.

Our crew was a pretty lively group, they were a fun bunch that were a pleasure to take out.

Our primary goal was to find a few Hatchery Chinook, which have been somewhat challenging to locate out here at Westport. Most of the reports from both the commercial trollers and the charter boats have been mediocre at best. The opener for the early mark-selective Chinook fishery was pretty good, and a few boats did well, but since then it has been a little bleak. Everyone has been fishing close to the beach, either the South Beach between the jetty and Grayland, or the North Beach from the jetty to the Quinault Beach Casino. We headed north, hopeful that we could find a few feeding salmon.

Trolling in the morning was a little slow. Scratch that – it sucked. Regardless of the lack of action, the crew was in good spirits and had a blast. Chris whipped out his phone and we blasted ACDC from his Pandora app, we joked around, told stories, and just flat out enjoyed ourselves. They we got bit! We battled a healthy Chinook to the net, checked for an adipose, found one, and released it. It was unfortunate that we didn’t get to keep it, but it was nice to see the beautiful specimen. After a full morning of trolling around, we headed north to explore some of the finest inshore bottomfish structure around.

Fishing around the rockpiles near Point Grenville was fantastic. Winds and currents were light near the shore, so we drifted around the structure just as planned. Occasionally, the winds will push the boat faster that is preferred and fishing can be tough; you just move too fast to fish well, but not today. Today was good.

We loaded up on Black Sea Bass, which are a real thrill to catch. These feisty three to four pound fish jump at the chance to scarf down small swimbaits or shrimp flies. We typically rig up a double hook rig with either a lower swimbait-upper shrimp fly or a double shrimp fly set up, both seem to catch plenty. While I always think that the Lingcod prefer larger baits, but many of the Lingcod that we catch out here mainly feed on smaller Anchovies… so catching a ten pound Ling on a shrimp fly isn’t out of the question. We kept five Lingcod, one of which was a real monster, probably in the twenty pound class. Chris caught that one and was really pleased with it.

Once we had a good number of Lingcod and our limits (sixty) of Black Sea Bass, we headed back to the South. On the way back, Captain Ian saw a number of birds feeding on top of what seemed like a large amount of bait, so we stopped. Seas were calm, and it was a perfect day to clean our catch of Rockfish and Lingcod, while working the Herring/Diver gear for a possible last-minute salmon bite.

Our last ditch effort to put a salmon in the boat paid off. Big Time. Just as I began to fillet our Rockfish, one of the rods buried from a salmon grab. Fish on! We cleared a nearby rod, left everything else fishing, and raced around each other trying to get the net ready, keep the lines cleared, and keep the fish on. Scoop. Hatchery fish. Yes!

Within the hour, we had one hook-up after the next. We landed our first hatchery fish right off the bat, then the second, then the third, and finally once we had all the rods fishing, on to the fourth! Chris grabbed the rod and the chaos that ensued was most accurately described as a fire drill. Once again, we were dealing with a tough fighting Chinook, and once I scooped it up with the net, there was a sigh of relief that we got it, then once we saw that we could keep it (hatchery fish), we were stoked!

As soon as I lifted the salmon into the boat, Ian gave everyone notice to reel up. Then we heard Al from the stern yell, “NO WAY!” I looked over and his rod was doubled over… Fish on again! I didn’t even have time to clear our last fish from the net, and we were dealing with a thrashing Chinook about ten feet behind the boat. We scrambled, Al fought the good fight, and in the net went our fifth hatchery Chinook of the day! We were on cloud nine!

Both the captain and I had a good feeling about fishing the afternoon for a bit, but neither of us truly expected such a drastic change in fishing action from the morning. It was awesome. We stayed out longer than normal but it was well worth it. With five salmon in the box to show for our efforts, we decided to call it a good day.

We headed back to port with a fish hold full of sixty Black Rockfish, five Lingcod and five Hatchery Chinook Salmon. It was epic fishing, calm seas and clear skies, and a fun crew, all of which I hope to fish with again. Good job guys!

Westport Bottomfish Report May 24

I fished out of Westport today aboard the charter boat Reel Elite for Lingcod and Rockfish. Fishing was pretty fast paced and we had our limits in no time. While the marine forecast was for fairly calm seas, it was a bumpy ride in the morning, as it seemed that there was a mixed swell direction and some chop on the top. Luckily the water calmed down by the time we started fishing. We cruised 10 miles north of the entrance to Grays Harbor to a little rockpile we know about. Armed with a double shrimp fly setup, Ian set ourselves up for two drifts to see what we could find. We knocked out half our limit of Rockfish, but it seemed that by our third drift fishing had really died down. There were six anglers on board, and both Captain Ian and I knew that if we wanted to ensure limits of both Rockfish and Lingcod for everyone, a change of scenery was needed.

Sonora Reef lies about 25 miles north of Westport and has some of the best inshore structure one could hope to find. The reef isn’t much of a secret, as it can be found on most charts, and everyone in the charter fleet knows of its existence. It is a long run to get to Sonora from Westport, but well worth it if you don’t mind burning the fuel. It is truly a special place to fish. Black Rockfish swarm around the wash rocks near the reef, and Lingcod stack onto every rocky ledge, even as shallow as 20 feet. We hoped that making the extra long run up to the reef would give us our boat limit and allow for plenty of time to cruise back and clean our catch.

We motored around searching for a big school of Rockfish. These fish aren’t necessarily difficult to catch, and once you drop your gear into a school, a feeding frenzy often follows. In as shallow as 25 feet, we marked plenty of fish holding tight to the bottom. It must have been the combination of bright sun, clear water, and shallow depths that kept the fish from schooling mid-water. We dropped six lines and the frenzy began. Double after triple after quadruple. We caught thirty before we knew it, and after a final count of 78 Rockfish for 6 guests and 2 crewmembers, we were close enough to a boat limit of 80 to move on to a Lingcod spot. Occasionally we can scrape up an entire limit of Lingcod at the reef and avoid having to move into deeper water, but the Rockfish were so numerous and so aggressive… we didn’t land a single Lingcod up north!

So we cruised off to a favorite Lingcod spot. We passed the Slammer, one of Westport’s premier bottomfish-catching-machines anchored on a prime spot. I checked their report later in the day to find that they absolutely crushed it with 20 anglers: 41 Lingcod & 200 Rockfish. I have nightmares about filleting that many fish at once! But cheers to those guys for offering up another great trip to a boat full of happy anglers. We hit our spot and worked for our 12 Lings, but we got em! All in all it was a great day, and I was stunned at how fast paced the Rockfish catching up north was. Can’t wait until the next trip!

possession-bar-lingcod

Possession Bar Lingcod Report May 22

Today I helped out Captain Randy with Northwest Fishing Charters on a Lingcod trip. We had phenomenal weather and great fishing at Possession Bar. I have never fished with Randy before, and was excited to finally get the opportunity. He has been running a charter business on Puget Sound longer than I have been fishing, so I was very interested in getting to fish with a veteran Lingcod angler. We had a great group on the boat, a family from Maryland that wanted to experience what local Seattle area fishing has to offer.

Randy operates a Uniflite Salty Dog named the Dom Perignon which is moored at the Everett Marina. We met a little early to rig rods and get a game plan together. While we each consider ourselves decent fishermen, we hashed out our strategy for the day. Steve, Lauren, Ben and Sam met us at the dock at 7am and we were off.

We issued fishing licenses and headed over to Hat Island to catch a day’s worth of live bait. Randy had a really efficient way to fill the live-well. He rigged up a double dropper setup with small barbless baitholder hooks and tipped them with a small chunk of cialis generic, it caught fish and was extremely durable). We set up a drift in about seventy five feet off the Southeast edge of the island. It didn’t take long before we had a dozen small Sand Dabs in the livewell and were off to find our guests some Lingcod.

We cruised south to Possession Bar under bluebird skies, everyone soaked in the beautiful view. Mount Baker was visible to the north, Rainier loomed over Seattle to the south. A perfect day to show off our neighborhood to visitors. We had an incoming tide throughout the morning with a very small exchange of about 4 feet. When drift fishing for Lingcod, a small exchange is nice because it allows the captain to easily back the boat up to keep the lines at a vertical angle but still cover ground, so to speak.

Our first few drifts at Possession weren’t anything to write home about, in fact they were downright disappointing. We hooked a couple anenomes and even one that was affixed to a beer bottle. As of the first hour, our guests would’ve had a great we didn’t catch anything except a beer bottle! story to share… and those don’t look too good on Yelp! We kept at it. Our drifts were perfect, and we had the boat positioned over some great bottom structure. Our sonar screen image showed off small rockpiles and depressions, even a few fish hunkered on the bottom. We knew we would eventually get em!

As the saying goes, when it rains it pours, and soon our luck would drastically change. As we drifted over some fishy-looking structure, one of our rods doubled over. It was a classic live-bait takedown. A few short throbs, then a steady load of the rod. Fish on! Steve grabbed the rod to battle our first fish of the day and wham! The rod on the other side of the boat doubled over in the rod holder! We fought both and landed one, a nice 27 inch keeper. We made quite a few more drifts and hooked one after another. Steve had his keeper in the fish box and I had just netted Sam’s first Lingcod, both were nice fish, but what happened next was the highlight of our day.

Ben was up next. As his rod folded over, I grabbed it and reeled down on a hefty fish before the handoff. A true monster was on the end of Ben’s line! Line ripped off the reel as the fish headed straight back to the bottom. He battled it for a while, and all the while keeping his composure. Not once did he offer the fish any slack, nor did he horse it in. He fought the good fight. And as I dipped the net underneath the biggest Lingcod I have ever seen in Puget Sound, we all cheered! We boated it to get a quick measurement; the beast taped out at 45 inches long. I have released a big 42 inch fish at Foulweather once, but this one appeared as if it could’ve eaten that dink! We snapped two quick photos of it before reviving and releasing it. It is my belief that these large fish deserve the protection that they are given, and I always tail them in the water until they are ready to swim away on their own, this one took a minute to revive but swam away to live another day. What a thrilling experience!

As the day came to a close, we battled and lost a few other Lingcod. Those buggers can come unlatched pretty easily when fishing with live bait. Just as Randy gave the call to reel up the gear for the return to port, Lauren grabbed her rod and got hammered by a fish!

“I think there’s something big down there!”

She had a little bit of a tough time with the rod, so I gripped the butt of the rod to give it a little stability while she cranked. She was excited but calm and steadily cranked it all the way to the surface… Lift, Scoop, Net in the boat, our third keeper taped out at 34”. Randy and I were pretty darned excited that everyone on the boat was able to battle a Ling to the net.

All in all we had about a dozen opportunities, of which we experienced three double-headers (which really goes to show that when you find the structure that Lingcod like, you can find quite a few fish in a small area). We ended up with three very nice keeper Lingcod: 27”, 28” and a 34”. The monster Ling that we released really capped off the day and made it special for all of us.

possession-puget-sound-lingcod

Westport Lingcod & Rockfish Saturday May 18

I had the pleasure of working as a deckhand for All Rivers & Saltwater Charters this weekend in Westport, Washington. Captain Ian Winder and I took a great group of guys out for an express Lingcod and Rockfish fishing trip on the Reel Tight. I jump at the chance to fill in for Ian’s fulltime deckhand, as this boat is a flat out blast to fish from. Saturday’s trip was nothing less than spectacular with fast action, easy limits, and a very happy crew!

Our group of six clients met us at the Reel Tight at 6 a.m. Brian & Larry drove down from Spanaway and the other four (Carl, Jeremy, Nate & Robbie) drove down that morning from Seattle. We cruised across a relatively calm Bar, and headed north up the Coast to a few of our favorite inshore Rockfish spots.

There are a few small rockpiles to the north of Grays Harbor that have been pretty consistent for Black Rockfish. Typically we are fishing in water 20 feet to 50 feet. We made a few drifts over our favorite spot, each generic viagra 100mg. Our client’s tandem shrimp fly setups were getting hammered! Each drift produced multiple double and triple hookups, often times our clients would haul in two Rockfish at once. While a Rockfish limit of 10 per person may seem like a lot, when you get into schools of aggressive fish, the limit is reached fairly quickly. We limited (60 Black Rockfish) within an hour. Time to head to our Lingcod spots.

We headed into deeper waters to target Lingcod, and the fishing was very consistent. Today we fished for Lingcod in waters 100 feet to 150 feet deep. Drifting with Herring was the ticket. The drifts were long, and each produced at least a few hookups. Most of the Lingcod we encountered were in the keeper range of 22” to 30”. After a few hours in our offshore spot, we had our limit of twelve Lingcod to add to the fish box. Ian piloted us back to port, I filleted the catch.

With calm seas and a great group of guests, days like this remind me of why I love it out here in Westport!

Westport Jetty Report May 12

Earlier in the year I was on more or less a fishing hiatus, lately it has been more of a fishing bender. I arrived at Westport a few days ago to play the role of deckhand on the charter boat Reel Elite and while I’ve had two solid days of offshore fishing, I just couldn’t get enough. After a morning full of errands and unnecessary busyness, I decided to dedicate a few hours to fish the Westport Jetty. I wouldn’t be able to get all geared up to hit the max flood tide, but I still was eager to go wet a line. The weather was absolutely beautiful, today was definitely a Mandatory Sunscreen Day.

With nothing more than a light pack with a few essentials and a fishing rod, I was ready to test my luck. It was almost a year since I last fished at the south jetty at Westhaven State Park, and probably two years since before that. I used to consider myself a regular here, and in my younger years have spent many days working the rocks for Lingcod and Rockfish. Westport’s jetty is arguable the best place on the West Coast to shore fish for the Pacific’s bounty of bottom fish.

Equipment: 9’ medium action spinning rod. Spinning reel spun with 30 pound Power Pro braided spectra with a 4’ shock leader of 20 pound mono.

Tackle: 1 ounce jigheads and Berkley Gulp 6” grubs, New Penny, White Glow & Nuclear Chicken.

I arrived soon after the tide change, and as Grays Harbor emptied, it created a ripping current along the bayside of the jetty. I peered from atop the jetty to see what looked like a fast flowing river. Not fishing that side. So I went to check out the ocean side and found that while the tide was most surely going out, the current wasn’t nearly as fast. Current not ripping: CHECK. Swells on the Oceanside small & safe: CHECK. Not a fisherman in sight: CHECK. It looked good!

The water was clear and I fished the underwater structure for about 100 feet of jetty. Numerous grabs, numerous rocks snagged as well. But I ended up coaxing out two smaller Cabezon and a nice Greenling that I released. In all honesty, I was searching for Lingcod and Black Rockfish, but I guess for an hours worth of fishing, I will take what I can get. I did hook two Lingcod, but both won the battle. I got the first Lingcod to the surface and it thrashed and came off the hook before I could grab it. The second darted out from a rock ledge below where I was standing, swatted at my lure just below the surface, and I just couldn’t get a hookset in before it gave a few headshakes and was free. I still consider the few hours out there a success and oh yes, I will be back.

Westport Lingcod Report May 10

I’m down here in Westport for a few glorious days of saltwater fishing. Today was my first day this week to play deckhand aboard the Reel Tight, and we had a great time. The weather was pretty nice, with a little breeze but no rain… I’ll take it! The ocean swells were about 6 feet and spaced about 10 seconds apart, which was a little lumpy but with no wind chop was manageable. Luckily the water laid down to about a 4 foot swell by the time we were finished with our trip. Our crew wanted to go out and catch Lingcod and Rockfish in the Pacific, so we cruised up north to a few spots to see what we could find.

We stopped on a few rockpiles in the 60 to 70 foot depths range, marking both great structure and schools of rockfish on the screen (always a good sign). On the very first stop we got into a school of aggressive Black Rockfish (Black Sea Bass). Within the first two drifts we had over 30 nice sized Rockfish on the deck! We were geared up with light tackle spinning rods spun with 20 pound spectra. Half the rods were rigged with double shrimp flies tied above a 3 ounce lead, the other half were rigged with one shrimp fly tied above a 2 ounce swimbait. While some veterans consider catching rockfish more of an afterthought on halibut fishing days, I honestly find fishing them on light tackle to be one of my favorite things to do. Anyways, I was a busy beaver once we got into the rockfish. Racing from port to starboard and back again, pulling in rockfish, often two on one line, shaking them off the hook onto the deck only to race back to the next guest… what a zoo! A little frenzy while fishing is good though.

As the fishing at our first stop cooled off, we went searching for another aggressive school of fish. We made a few experimental drifts on a few spots that we had yet to fish, and eventually we found the remainder of our limit. While we easily could have reached 80 rockfish limit for all the passengers plus captain and deckhand, we decided that just shy of 70 was enough. Limits for all the guests and a few fillets to take home for some fish tacos! We did land a very nice Lingcod while fishing for Rockfish, but really needed to get a limit for everyone. One down and eleven more to catch. So off we went looking.

We stopped on one of our favorite Lingcod spots with high hopes. We weren’t disappointed. One after another, the guys hooked up on Lings and I was kept busy racing around the boat with the net. It was a fairly good catch too, I can’t recall one Lingcod that was even a questionable keeper, plenty of nice fish in the 24” to 32” range. One of our guests was battling the last Lingcod we needed to round out a limit, and as I stood by his side, net in hand, staring into the abyss where the line disappeared into the depths, I suddenly saw his small Lingcod come into view with a much larger Ling latched onto it! With a urgency in my tone, I had him slowly and steadily reel the fish up, and as soon as the net was underneath them, the big one let go of its prey and dove right into the net! What a thrilling end to a great day!

washington-ocean-lingcod

Washington Lingcod Seasons 2014

Lingcod are one of Washington State’s most popular bottom fish, and almost every marine area offers a fishing season for these voracious predators. They are prized for their aggressive hunting habits, their willingness to strike a variety of lures and bait, and their delicious filets. Washington has such diverse marine areas, each has its own character. In nearshore areas, Lingcod can be found concentrated around inshore bottom structure such as marina breakwaters, jetties, shoals and rockpiles. Along Washington’s Pacific Coast, they reside along the rocky coastline outward to the depths around the edge of the continental shelf. Here is a breakdown of the 2014 Lingcod Season for Washington State. This is just a simple guide, please consult the Washington State Fishing Regulation Pamphlet for full rules. Please be aware that each area may have a specific depth restriction, marine preserves closed to fishing, retention limits, emergency rules.

[table caption=”Washington Lingcod Seasons 2014″ width=”500″ colwidth=”100″
colalign=”left|left|center|center|center|center”]
Area,Season,Limit,Min,Max,Depth Restriction
MA1: Ilwaco,March 15-October 18,2,22”,None,Yes
MA2: Westport,March 15-October 18,2,22”,None,Yes
MA3: La Push,March 15-October 18,2,22″,None,Yes
MA4: Neah Bay,April 16-October 15,2,22″,None,Yes
MA5: Sekiu,May 1-June 15,1,26″,36″,Yes
MA6: East Straits,May 1-June 15,1,26″,36″,Yes
MA7: San Juan Islands,May 1-June 15,1,26″,36″,Yes
MA8-1: Skagit Bay,May 1-June 15,1,26″,36″,Yes
MA8-2: Everett,May 1-June 15,1,26″,36″,Yes
MA9: Admiralty Inlet,May 1-June 15,1,26″,36″,Yes
MA10: Seattle,May 1-June 15,1,26″,36″,Yes
MA11:Tacoma,May 1-June 15,1,26″,36″,Yes
MA12: Hood Canal,CLOSED,-,-,-,-
MA13:South Sound,May 1-June 15,1,26″,36″,Yes
[/table]

May 1 Lingcod

Yesterday was the first of May, which signals the beginning of 45 glorious days of fishing for Lingcod in Puget Sound. Most of you will agree that during this time of year, we all have way too much we need to accomplish and not enough hours in the day. Home and garden projects, family time, work, etcetera. On top of the normal day-to-day business, as soon as the weather gets nice we are also slammed with a half dozen great fishing opportunities (and if you are like me, it’s all about trying to figure out where you want to spend those precious hours on the water). While I am fortunate to get the chance to fish around the state, I love fishing for Lingcod so close to home. Finding a way to get out for opening day was a must!

I scrambled last week to see if there was anyone still looking for a crew on opening day. The first person that came to mind was my buddy Eddy, since we have tried to get out fishing many times through the years, unfortunately our schedules never really aligned… but we both had a mid-day window to hit the water for a few hours… so I was stoked! My friends Ian & Monica were available to join in on the fun as well. With a few minor set-backs in the morning (don’t ask), we pushed the meeting time to noon and launched Eddy’s Grady White at the Edmonds Sling.

The weather was perfect, one of those much appreciated warm windless days on the Sound. We zipped over to Kingston to grab a dozen sand dabs, jigging white crappie jigs smeared with a little scent. Once we filled the livewell with our Lingcod bait, we zipped over to Possession Bar. There are plenty of great places to fish for Lingcod throughout Puget Sound, but the location and sheer size of Possession makes it an easy target for folks looking to catch fish without travelling great distances. We fished for about two hours, witnessed a few folks around us hooking fish (including one of Eddy’s friends that landed a sea-monster sized Ling in the 30 pound class which he carefully released). Not even a fish hooked yet… It Was A Good Day.

Tides for the first day of Lingcod fishing weren’t ideal. We had a huge tidal swing with a low slack midday, but the vast numbers of Lingcod, unharrassed but fishermen so far this year more than made up for that. We found a good stretch of structure near the Westside of the Bar and made about a dozen drifts. With ripping currents, we quickly upgraded our weights to 10 ounces, and got the drift pretty dialed in. We averaged about 1 grab per two drifts, so fishing wasn’t that hot for us. I think that the ripping currents were causing us to drift a bit too fast.

About an hour into fishing, we picked up the gear to run back to the top of the drift and whoosh… somehow the net that was nested along the inside of the rail caught air and was launched overboard. After a few choice adult words, we collected our thoughts and made another drift. It wasn’t the cost of replacing the net that was a big deal, but being without a net makes for an interesting time when fishing Lingcod with live bait. Not only must barbless hooks be used in Puget Sound, but when fishing with live bait, Lings will often latch onto the bait and not actually get hooked. I’ve seen it happen many times before where a Lingcod will spit the bait the second its head is pulled above the waterline, either just prior to or just after being netted.

Well, Ian’s rod loaded over and after a short battle and a few returns to the bottom, he carefully reeled up the Ling. Luckily for us, our first Lingcod of the day was pretty docile once it got to the surface. I carefully assessed where the hooks were in relation to the Ling’s mouth (no one wants a hook buried in their hand), and slid my hand up under the gill plate. Lingcod have a piece of cartilage on the inside of the gill plate that acts almost as a natural handle, so once you’ve got your hand in there, a strong grip is all a guy needs to lift the fish out of the water.

Beware that Lingcod have razor sharp teeth and gill rakers as well as pointed spines built into the front dorsal fin, so these creatures are not safe to handle. For me, after years of handling Lingcod on the Westport Jetty, I feel confident that I can handle most average sized Lings. Anyways, we got the Ling in the boat, and it measured 35.5” YEAH! High-fives, pics, back to fishing. We made two more drifts, hooked one other Lingcod, and called it a day. I would imagine that even the most popular Lingcod spots will stay productive for the next several weeks, but later in the season we all have to get creative to find spots that haven’t been hammered with fishing pressure. Best of luck everyone!

Another great fishing day in the books! I hope everyone that made it out had a great time.

Express Westport Lingcod & Rockfish

Whenever you’ve found a fishing spot where the fishing is fun and the catching is great, you know you’ve found something special. I’ve been filling in as a deckhand on the Reel Tight out of Westport, Washington. We are currently fishing for Lingcod and Rockfish, just like the rest of the charter fleet. Unlike the Westport Charter fleet, we are running a speedy 29’ Defiance boat and are offering Express trips. While the Reel Tight seems just as speedy as any private sport boat, it is quite a bit faster than any of the other Charters in the Westport fleet. We often will be out fishing for an hour before we notice the first of the traditional charter boats bobbing on the horizon, headed our way.

Fishing for Lingcod and Rockfish today was nothing short of amazing! We cruised out quickly, with less than a four foot swell. Ian and I decided to alter our tackle a bit for this trip, instead of fishing double shrimp flies, we opted for a shrimp fly rigged above a large swimbait. We have been fishing a few select rockpiles and reefs north of Westport, and just knew there were Lingcod to be had at our favorite Rockfish spots.

Ian positioned the vessel for our first drift. Sure enough, our intuitions about Lingcod were correct! Scott was the first to lower his gear down, and WHAM! Fish on! And look… a ten pound Lingcod bit the swimbait and a four pound Black Rockfish bit the shrimp fly. Gotta love doubles! Then David hooked up, then Dale, then Tom, then Dale again, and before I could jump over the pile of Lingcod on the deck to net David’s second Ling, in looked over to witness Scott set the hook on another monster! We were in a fast paced bite for sure.

The weather was fine heading out, but Ian had been paying close attention to the weather forecast, which was quickly turning. We were able to make two final drifts, yielding up a pile of Black Rockfish and quite a few more Lingcod, then we were forced to call it a day and race back to Port. The final count for the day was 11 Lingcod and 30 Black Rockfish. Our swimbait program paid huge dividends, as our average size for Lingcod was easily twice that compared to the hauls of offshore fish. Although we only fished for two hours before having to bag it due to weather, the phenomenal pace of catching was enough to produce some happy clients. It was a great day to be fishing as the action could not have been faster, but we called it at the right time and headed back to Port before the bar was closed.

Spring Fishing Thoughts

Spring does not make a great first impression here in the Pacific Northwest. She always teases us with a beautifully warm weekend early in the month of April. We blissfully fill our spring schedule with springtime activities like planting the garden, dusting off the patio furniture and preparing the boat, ready for a warm weather paradise that will stretch clear into fall. But every year, she catches us off guard. Overnight frosts that kill our fragile little garden starts, weeks of gray rain laden clouds, and heavy seas that dash our fishing plans. And although spring toys with our emotions, depriving us of that much needed sunshine we have oh so missed, fair weather eventually arrives. Us folks here in the upper left hand corner of the country know how to capitalize on the short summer we do have. And if you fish, you know that it is merely a struggle to choose how to manage your time, our options are many. My interests usually steer me toward the Sound.

As spring approaches, we have so many great places to fish that it is only the limiting factor of time that forces us to pick and choose our favorites. I am always eager for April’s Razor Clams, Coastal Lingcod and Hometown Trout.

I find myself beaming with joy at the chance to head west and enjoy our early morning clam digs on the beach. As folks step onto the sand at Long Beach, Grayland, Ocean Shores and Copalis, the amount of great enjoyment seen in the smiles of so many really shows how a little trip to the coast can wipe away the memory of a wet and dark winter.

A chance to fish for Lingcod and Rockfish in the Pacific is one I won’t miss, and every spring I make a concerted effort to head to Westport. I think it is an amazing opportunity we have, to hop on a Charter and explore the open ocean, and to carry home fillets from a dozen healthy bottomfish for under a hundred dollars.

As April surrenders to May, that final weekend is one of many firsts. I should say, many first fish. Hundreds of thousands of folks grab the tackle box and poles and head to their local lakes. It is an impressive feat to stock thousands of lakes across Washington with millions of trout, but the state does that to give families the chance to enjoy easy fishing near home. Many lakes are stocked well, and fishing can remain good into early summer, but that first weekend is a real slam dunk. The fish might not always be the biggest, but they bring a lot of joy and create plenty of memories for young anglers.

The rule book is mailed out and immediately every boat owner in Seattle has requested time off to go shrimping. Our Sound has a great abundance of Spot Shrimp, but the popularity of the fishery allows for only a few shrimping days a year, lest we over harvest our tasty resource. A Saturday here, a Wednesday there and it seems that it ended as quickly as it began. But the resource managers know that it takes a lot of work to go shrimping, so when it is open, we each get a healthy limit of 80.

Just as folks are readying their shrimping gear in anticipation, Halibut and Lingcod seasons open up in marine areas from Astoria to Bellingham to Olympia. May is a heyday for fishermen in the state, and the chance to keep Lingcod one day, Spot Shrimp the next and Halibut the day after that keeps us plenty busy. So even though the Great Northwest is defined by Salmon, us fishermen have plenty to keep us preoccupied before they arrive. Good luck out there!

Lingcod Jetty Fishing in Washington

Many Washington State anglers are thrilled with the abundance of Lingcod fishing spots our saltwater areas have to offer. Whether it is in the Pacific Ocean, the San Juan Islands or Puget Sound, each year anglers just can’t wait to get out and boat their first Lingcod of the season. But what if you don’t own a boat? Fret not my shorebound friend! Washington offers a few jetties and public piers where boatless anglers can catch Lingcod.

I have spent a fair amount of time hunting the infamous Lingcod from shore, and I have a few tips and hotspots to share with you!

Jetty Fishing Spots for Lingcod

Jetties are manmade rock formations that are built at the entrance to many Washington coastal waterways. They provide excellent habitat for many species of fish, including Lingcod. A jetty can be a treacherous place during storms, but during fair-weather many anglers travel to our jetties to catch Lingcod, Rockfish, Sea Perch and Salmon.

Columbia River North Jetty

The North Jetty is located on the north shore of the Columbia River near Ilwaco, Washington. It is located in Cape Disappointment State Park, yet the fishing here is anything but disappointing. Most of the Jetty is composed of extremely large rocks, and just getting to a good fishing spot is an adventure within itself. Anglers catch Black Rockfish year round, but Lingcod are caught with shocking regularity from Spring through early Fall. Salmon are caught from the Jetty throughout the summer months.

Westport Jetty

The Westport Jetty is located on the southern entrance to Grays Harbor in Westport, Washington. This Jetty is accessible from Westhaven State Park. This is Washington’s most popular jetty and for good reason. It is the closest to Seattle and Tacoma. It is fairly easy to access plus fishing can be phenomenal.

Anglers catch Lingcod here with ease, along with limits of Black Rockfish, Greenling and Surf Perch. A few fishermen bring home good catches of King and Silver Salmon in late Summer, when salmon flood past the jetty to reach Grays Harbor rivers.

Hiking on the Westport Jetty is less treacherous than the North Columbia Jetty; families & older fisherman walk out and fish the first half of the jetty. The extreme end of the Jetty is difficult to get to with larger boulders to climb over, but many die-hard anglers make their way to the end. The end of the Jetty offers great fishing for all species.

While most anglers focus on the Harbor side of the Jetty for Lings, Greenling & Rockfish, I have also caught them on the Ocean side when the waves are not too dangerous.

La Push Jetty

The jetty at La Push is located at the mouth of the Quillayute River about ten miles west of Forks, Washington. This Jetty is right in the fishing village of La Push within the boundaries of the Quillayute Indian Reservation. This Jetty is located in some of the most remote stretches of coastline, with the best bottomfish populations found in our state. Lingcod, Black Rockfish, Greenling and Salmon are caught from the jetty. Consult the tribal office for required permits or tribal licenses.

Neah Bay Jetty

Many decades ago, as strong seas threatened the native village of Neah Bay, Waadah Island offered the only protection to the harbor and town. A jetty was eventually built connecting Waadah to the mainland, and provides more protection for the harbor. This Jetty offers great fishing for Rockfish and Greenling. While the water here is fairly shallow, it can offer fairly good catches of Lingcod. The jetty is located on the Makah Indian Reservation, and tribal fishing license is required.

Jetty Fishing Tackle for Lingcod

My favorite lures to use for jetty Lingcod are Jigheads & Soft Plastics. Losing tackle is just a part of the jetty fishing experience. As your lure is retrieved, it can easily get snagged on the submerged rocks. Jigheads & Soft Plastics are inexpensive yet they work very well. I will always carry a variety of Jigheads and different colors and sizes of Soft Plastics. I would say a variety of ½ oz – 4 oz Jigheads will cover any scenario, I seem to use more 1 oz – 2 oz than anything, but I also use braided lines. Braided line is thinner, therefore there is less resistence, and lighter Jigheads can sink quickly. If you use monofilament line, heavier Jigheads might be needed.

Fishing with Live Bait is also a popular method used to catch Lingcod from our jetties. Bring a Bait-Fishing Setup and catch a few smaller fish, whether they be small Greenling, Flounder, Perch or Sculpin. While Live-Bait fishing on the jetty can be a little challenging, most successful Ling fishermen I have seen will use a large slip float, a 1 oz sinker and a double hook set-up. It is very difficult to estimate depth from shore, so a sliding float with no stopper is perfect. The live bait will struggle to the bottom and hopefully a nearby Lingcod will capitalize on an easy meal!

I have also caught Lingcod using a whole Herring rigged under a float, but have had more luck with Soft Plastics myself. Probably because I use them more often!

Jetty Fishing Tips for Lingcod

  1. Safety First! There are many factors that can create hazardous conditions on our jetties. Always check weather, surf, bar, and marine forecasts before heading out. I always check tides, wind direction, swell height & direction, and surf condition.
  2. Tides: Spring Tides, where there is extreme highs & lows, can make for tough fishing. You can still do very well around the slack tide, but I prefer to fish softer tides where there is less tidal flow.
  3. Tackle: Bring more than you think you need. You will lose plenty of gear to snags. If I think I might lose 6 Jigheads in an afternoon, I will plan on bringing 6 of each size. If 1 oz. Jigheads are fishing perfect, you don’t want to only have a few!
  4. Line: Braided line is great because it has zero stretch and is very thin, but it isn’t as durable as monofilament. Braid can easily get frayed on sharp rocks and barnacles. Lingcod have very sharp teeth and can easily sheer through 40# Braid. If you plan to fish braided line, at least use a heavy 20# to 40# monofilament leader.
  5. Measuring Device: Lingcod have a size restriction (can vary from year to year or place to place). Make sure you carry something to measure potential keepers.
  6. If you aren’t catching fish in an area…experiment with lures. If that doesn’t work, move a little ways.

2013 Puget Sound Lingcod Season

Marine Areas 5 (Sekiu) through 13 (South Puget Sound) is open to Lingcod Fishing from May 1 to June 15. Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal) is CLOSED.

Daily Limit: 1
Min Size: 26 inches
Max Size: 36 inches

Fishing for bottomfish is prohibited in waters deeper than 120 feet.

HOOD CANAL CLOSED TO LINGCOD FISHING THIS YEAR.

As always, please read the OFFICIAL REGULATIONS thoroughly before fishing!

2013 Puget Sound Lingcod

Puget Sound Lingcod Season

May 1 to June 15

Daily Limit

1

Slot Limit

26 inches to 36 inches

Depth Restrictions

120 feet

Be safe out there, and good luck everyone!

Andrew Moravec

Neah Bay Lingcod Fishing

Neah Bay and the North Coast offer some for the most fantastic Lingcod fishing in Washington State. The rocky coastline features pinnacles, cliffs, rock piles and reefs that host an unbelievable population of Lingcod, Sea Bass and other bottom fish. While many lingcod fishermen leave port and journey through the narrow passage between Tatoosh Island & Cape Flattery to reach the Pacific Ocean, even more fisherman with smaller boats enjoy great fishing inside of the entrance near Neah Bay in the Straits. Neah Bay offers so many places to catch everything from Greenling to Cabezon to Lingcod to Salmon that many fishermen make the trip every year, exploring the area and finding new fishing spots.

Neah Bay Lingcod Fishing

Lingcod inhabit the rocky structure that is so common to the North Coast. Practically every nook, cranny and crevice of the coastline has the potential to host Lingcod. Some of my favorite Ling spots are around the larger pinnacles and exposed rocks just off shore. One of the benefits of a Neah Bay Lingcod trip is that if you choose, you can fish these aggressive fish in less than 60 feet of water! Some of my largest near shore Lings have been caught near Strawberry Rock, Duncan Rock, Father & Son, Seal Rock & Sail Rock.

While there is an endless amount of nearshore structure to fish, there are also many extremely large Lingcod are taken in the deep sea near the edge of the continental shelf. Many deepwater enthusiasts focus on Lingcod before the ever popular Halibut fishing season opens in Neah Bay & La Push.

Lingcod Fishing in the Straits

While Lingcod fishing is popular near every town along the Juan de Fuca Strait, Neah Bay’s inside area (Marine Area 4B) has traditionally offered a longer season. From the entrance to the Pacific near Cape Flattery eastward to Sail Rock, the entire shoreline looks like textbook Lingcod habitat. Lings love rocky structure, and this area has it in spades. Fishing near kelp beds or reefs can produce great catches of Lings. When I fish the inside for Lingcod, I target rocky structure at depths of 25 to 70 feet. Folks with smaller boats that are keen on the weather can enjoy some great days fishing in this area. Even the northern shoreline of Waadah Island, which protects the marina, can offer up some stellar Lingcod and Rockfish fishing.

I typically use Swimbaits or Berkley Gulp Grubs when targeting Lingcod in shallow water. Stock up on lead jigheads between 1 oz. to 6 oz. for fishing the Straits or around the corner on the Pacific Coast. Many anglers will agree with me; there is something about Berkley Gulp Curly Tail Grubs that drive Lingcod crazy! Grab a couple packs before your next Lingcod trip.

Kayak Fishing for Lings

A few very talented kayak anglers fish the kelp beds and reefs around Waadah Island near the entrance to Neah Bay harbor. Seal Rock and Sail Rock are a short paddle from Snow Creek Resort that are a kayak anglers dream! Kelp beds, and a reef surround the two islands. There is a reef just east of the beach at Snow Creek Resort that would be perfect for kayak anglers!

Lingcod Fishing along the Pacific Coast

The open coastline can be more treacherous than the Straits, but this remote area is some of the most breathtaking shoreline in the United States. Rocky spires thrust up hundreds of feet above the crashing surf. Marine mammals and multitudes of sea birds thrive here on that boundary between temperate rainforests and open ocean. Boaters looking for Lingcod structure must be on high alert, ocean swells can force a vessel on exposed rocks. I prefer to look for structure away from Wash Rocks. These are the rocks that are so close to the surface that, while they may be difficult to spot, can cause severe hull damage if struck. Look for open areas with over a reef, ledge or rock pile that causes no potential danger.

There are many reefs outside from Makah Bay just south of Cape Flattery, near Strawberry Rock. My favorite shoreline Lingcod spot is Umatilla Reef, just off Cape Alava. The area around Spike Rock and Father & Son Rock are also productive. I cannot stress safety enough out here! As a good friend of mine once said, a Buddy Boat can be your salvation, should you get into trouble. Find another like-minded angler and plan a trip together.

Deep Sea Lingcod Fishing

Many of the offshore areas offer that rocky habitat that Lingcod call home. Deepwater Lings seem to be larger out here, it might be due to the fact that little fish don’t stay uneaten for long out here. This is big fish country. Barndoor Halibut, monster Yelloweye Rockfish and big Bucketmouth Lingcod own the turf in the deepwater reefs and banks that border the continental shelf. While deepwater fisheries in Washington have been limited to protect slow-to-mature Rockfish species, we still have a shot at targeting these monsters of the deep.

So where are the prime offshore Lingcod spots? Most Charter operators and die-hard Lingers will take that information to the grave, but if you are friendly enough, maybe even book a trip you can get at least the coordinates to a few honey holes. The Rockpile near La Push, the Southern boundary of the C –Closure and Tabletop are a few offshore locations that come to mind as being productive for Lingcod.

Large metal jigs and copper pipe jigs are perfect for these open ocean Lingcod.

Neah Bay Fishing Seasons

Check the current Washington State Fishing Regulation Pamphlet for Neah Bay seasons, they are subject to change. Be aware that there are certain depth restrictions as well as marine preserves closed to bottomfishing.

Neah Bay Lingcod Fishing Tips

  1. Be aware of any depth restrictions in place, and do not fish in closed waters.
  2. Do not assume that every dangerous rock is marked on your electronic chart, proceed with caution when fishing near the coastline.
  3. Keeping small Lingcod early in the day might mean you miss the opportunity to keep a trophy later in the day.
  4. Rockfish often do not survive after they are released. Target Lings first, as you will incidentally catch a few Rockfish. Finish up your Lingcod Limit, then go for your Rockfish limit!
  5. Most folks that make the drive out to Neah Bay plan on spending at least a few days fishing. Be aware that there is a limit of how many days worth of fish you can have in your possession.
  6. Always have a measuring device with you, just in case you decide to keep a fish close to the size limit.
  7. If you are interested in fishing from shore within the boundary of the Makah Reservation, you need a tribal fishing license.
  8. Lingcod have sharp teeth, so make sure to use very heavy mono leader.

Neah Bay Charter Boats

JAMBOS SPORTFISHING

EXCEL FISHING CHARTERS

BIG SALMON RESORT

Neah Bay Lodging, Services & Attractions

There are plenty of lodging options in the Neah Bay area.

Neah Bay offers a grocery, convenience store, showers at the marina, tribal office, museum, coffee shop and restaurant. Big Salmon Resort manages the marina and offers coffee, hot breakfasts and a great selection of fishing tackle.

Neah Bay is a virtual outdoor playground. Surfers travel here to catch some of the biggest waves in Washington State. Campers enjoy some of the most scenic campgrounds. Hikers explore Cape Flattery and Shi Shi Beach. Divers flood into Neah Bay to seek out the most fantastic spear fishing in the Northwest.


View Neah Bay Lingcod in a larger map

lingcod

How To Catch Lingcod

Lingcod are one of the Pacific Coast’s most prized saltwater species. They are extremely aggressive ambush predators that will attack and consume fish nearly their own size. Lingcod feature an elongated body with a large head. A lingcod’s mouth is extremely large and filled with razor sharp teeth.

Lingcod will regularly attack Greenling, Rockfish, Flounder and even other Lingcod that have been hooked by bottom fish anglers. It is not uncommon to pull both a hooked Rockfish, and the attached Lingcod all the way to the surface and into the net.

Best Spots for Lingcod

Lingcod are considered a reef fish. This species is attracted to rocky structure such as reefs, rock piles, rocky ledges, and underwater pinnacles. Typically, any rocky area has the potential to host a healthy population of Lingcod, especially if it’s in an area that sees heavy tidal currents.

Lingcod Found in Inshore Areas

washington-lingcod-fishing

In protected waters, such as Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands northward to the Inside Passage, many anglers target Lingcod in relatively shallow water. Currently in Washington State, managers have restricted the depth that can be fished in an effort to protect weak stocks of Rockfish. Rockfish are a very slow growing species, and overharvest has led to sweeping conservation efforts.

Lingcod can be caught in areas less than 25 feet deep. Juvenile Lingcod can be found in great numbers around Kelp Beds, but larger more mature Lingcod lead a more territorial life. While large reefs and rocky areas are easily identified on a nautical chart, in areas that see heavy fishing efforts, finding a small piece of unmapped structure can produce a Lingcod or two.

Lingcod in the Pacific Ocean

alaska-lingcod-fishing-trophy

Lingcod are found in the Pacific Ocean along the coast all the way from Baja, Mexico to Alaska. The rocky Pacific Coastline offers an endless amount of rocky structure, including many small islands and pinnacles. Offshore fishermen often catch Lingcod while trying to fish for Halibut. A popular deep sea Lingcod fishery off the Washington Coast can bring in the largest Lingcod anywhere in the state. Many of the popular halibut grounds are large underwater humps or ledges near the edge of the Continental Shelf. These rocky areas will host plenty of large Lingcod.

Rod & Reel for Lingcod

Lingcod will grab a lure or bait with extreme voracity. When searching for a perfect Lingcod rod make sure that it is the right size to…

  1. Handle the weight of your lure or set-up.
  2. Handle the size of the Lingcod you are targeting

I prefer conventional level-wind fishing reels for most saltwater fishing applications, including Lingcod fishing. Spinning reels will work fine, but usually lack the line capacity that a conventional reel offers.

When fishing in extremely deep water of the Pacific Ocean’s offshore reefs, a sturdy 5’6” Halibut rod will handle the heaviest of weights and the largest Lingcod you can dream up.

When fishing inshore areas such as Canada’s Gulf Islands or Puget Sound, a lighter rod will suffice. Many fishing rod manufacturers are producing ultra-light jigging rods that will handle large weights but lack the clunky heavy feel of a traditional halibut rod.

Line & Leader for Lingcod

I highly recommend Braided Spectra fishing line for any bottom fishing, such as Halibut, Lingcod or Rockfish. Braided lines have many advantages to monofilament lines. Braided lines are ultra-thin. A Spectra line with 80# strength has the same diameter as 20# monofilament. The thinner Spectra lines will cut the current better, allowing you to use lighter weights to reach great depths. Spectra lines also have zero stretch and extremely high sensitivity.

I was fishing in Neah Bay for Halibut one year, and after dropping my 48 oz. square lead down 450 feet, I felt the lead hit bottom and tip over and fall on its side. No monofilament would afford such sensitivity. Regardless of the depth, you will know when you get bit.

While Spectra has many advantages, it has very poor abraision resistance. Lingcod are armed with very sharp teeth, so a heavy durable leader is important. Some folks use wire leader, but I find that a thicker monofilament leader is much easier to work with. I would recommend 40#-60# leader.

Live Bait for Lingcod

Lingcod will rest on the rocky bottom as if they are lifeless, their mottled brown and green skin camouflaging them with their surroundings. As an unsuspecting baitfish swims by, the Lingcod bursts to life, thrusts towards its prey and engulfs it. Lingcod love live bait, because it is part of their normal diet.

Favorite live baits vary by region. In Alaska, trophy Lingcod will incidentally latch on to a hooked 5# Black Rockfish or even 25# Lingcod. Californian anglers use live Anchovies and Mackerel. Washington State anglers bicker over that perfectly palm-sized Sand Dab or Greenling.

There are many ways to rig live baits and they vary based on region and species of bait. One common practice is to keep the live bait as fresh and lively as possible. Small live wells are preferred, but a small bucket will work just fine as long as the water is changed regularly throughout the day.

Not-So-Live Bait for Lingcod

One preferred method is to drift with natural bait. A simple set-up includes a mooching sinker with a heavy leader and double hook using whole Herring. Drifting a whole Herring will allow the angler to cover ground while enticing any Lingcod along the way.

Metal Lingcod Lures

Metal lures are very effective for Lingcod. While more expensive than fishing soft plastics, they can be the top producer. Metal jigs are slender and dense, therefore they sink quickly and get down to the fish. Select the proper size based on the depth fished. A Pline Lazer Minnow metal jig weighing 1 ounce might be enough to fish around the edges of a Kelp bed, but a 24 ounce Norwegian Cod Jig might be what is needed offshore.

Soft Plastic Lingcod Lures

Fishing for Lingcod with soft plastics is extremely popular and extremely productive. Single-tail and double-tail plastic grubs in 4” and 6” are the most common lure to find in any Lingcod anglers tackle box. Thread these on a jighead, drop them to the bottom and “jig” them as you would a metal jig. To jig: lift the rod tip in a popping motion, and allow the jig to flutter downwards as you lower your rod tip.

Swimbaits are also extremely popular. I would recommend purchasing swimbaits that are weightless so that you can select the appropriately weighted jighead. Several varieties are available that have the weight imbedded into the bait, but these typically are too lightweight to get down to Lings in most areas we fish.

deep-water-lingcod-fishing

Puget Sound Lingcod Fishing

Lingcod Fishing in Puget Sound

May 1st marks the annual opening of Puget Sound for lingcod, those bottom-dwelling ambush predators found to attack anything that swims…at times. From opening day, Puget Sound lings’ aggressive personality and voracious appetite for anything that swims makes this fishery pretty wild when the bite is on. Here in Pugetropolis, every rock pile, reef and inshore structure can host good fishing for the first days, and as the season progresses the most successful anglers will have to get a little creative to keep the action alive.

About Puget Sound Lingcod

Despite the opinions of some anglers, there truly is a healthy population of lingcod in Puget Sound. Just ask any diver. Much is to be learned from divers about lingcod behavior, they see it first hand. Lingcod key in on structure, and if there is any rock, ledge or dip, chances are there will be a lingcod nearby. Lings will leave structure to find prey, but rarely travel far from home. While many rockfish school in mid-water depths, lingcod truly are a bottom fish, they don’t have a swim-bladder; most often they are seen resting on structure.

Lingcod are extremely aggressive; they will ambush any prey that enters their sight. The real trick is finding area that will hold them. Puget Sound offers many classic areas, large rock piles, artificial reefs and marina breakwaters are usually the most popular areas to target lingcod, early in the season these areas can be very productive but will eventually get fished out. After the first week of the season, start hunting for smaller structure that may not be advertised on charts. Use your electronics to mark structure, and then unleash your arsenal!

Recommended gear

Rod selection is important, a 6-7 foot one-piece rod with enough power to jig up to 6 ounces, and quickly pull a lingcod away from their rocky burrows is important. Fishing with a micro braid fishing line is recommended, its thin diameter cuts through any current and has zero stretch and ultra sensitivity; 40 lb to 65 lb micro braid is perfect.

Live bait strategies

Live-baiting lingcod is extremely effective , and flounder are a Lingcod’s favorite meal. Tending to live bait doesn’t require a fancy live well. A 5-gallon bucket or cooler is all one really needs, but adding a cheap aerator will keep flounder or pile-perch more-frisky. There are a few small details with live bait fishing that will give you a huge advantage. Live baiting with a sliding dropper set-up is best, your bait will spin, so use a high quality swivel to avoid line twist. Once a flounder is rigged, it naturally wants to find safety and will head straight for the bottom, running a short leader with a long dropper will keep your bait struggling above the bottom, in easy sight of hungry lings.

With the Puget Sound’s barbless hook regulations, swithing to Circle hooks on the lip hook will keep bait from wiggling off. Let them eat, and remember, when a lingcod grabs your live-bait, it isn’t necessarily hooked very well. Just apply steady cranking pressure, keep the ling’s head completely underwater, and usually they will stay fairly docile, a great net job is pretty important

Jigging

Jigging is another effective method, and lings love ambushing soft plastics. Berkly Gulp! 6” Grubs are excellent plastics. With the current craze of swimbaits in the bass fishing world, numerous local manufacturers make 4” to 6” swimbaits that will work well. Jigging as close to the structure as possible is key.

The majority of prime lingcod habitat in Puget Sound is found between 40 feet and 70 feet. Lingcod also live in the shallow rocky areas of marina breakwaters, pitching a 1-2 ounce jighead and soft-plastic into there areas can produce some non-stop action in surprisingly shallow water.

Neah Bay Inshore Fishing for Lingcod, Rockfish and Other Bottomfish

Inshore Bottomfishing at Neah Bay

On the Northwest tip of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula lies the tiny hamlet of Neah Bay. This is the jumping off point to a vast expanse of open ocean salmon fishing, halibut fishing and miles and miles of rugged shoreline. The North Coast offers some of Washington’s finest bottomfishing, with inshore structure found nowhere else in the state.

About Inshore fishing at Neah Bay

Neah Bay may be a small village on the Makah Indian Reservation, but in the fishing world the name refers to a huge expanse of shoreline reaching from Waadah Island at Neah’s harbor south on the coastline past Cape Alava. The coastline offers countless rockpiles, ridges, reefs and other structure that hosts unbeleivable bottomfishing.

Tatoosh Island and Cape Flattery mark the entrance to the open ocean from the Straits. There are miles of productive inshore bottomfish structure along the shoreline inside the Straits from Neah Bay to Tatoosh. From Cape Flattery south to Umatilla Reef offers many well known bottomfish locations including Strawberry Rock, Mushroom Rock, Spike Rock, Father & Son and many many more.

Umatilla Reef is a popular area for those willing to run longer distances. There is ample structure to fish, and plenty of rockfish and lingcod available.

Inshore Lingcod

Lingcod fishing around Neah Bay can be pretty fast-paced. Every rockpile, ridge and ledge has potential. Unfortunately for those seeking monsters, most inshore lingcod are small. Inshore areas can almost be considered a nursery for lings, with keeper size difficult to find at times. Most of the large lingcod that make their way to the cleaning tables at the marina are caught offshore in deeper waters. For those hoping to catch a keeper inshore, use larger swimbaits and metal jigs.

Neah Bay Rockfish

Rockfish can be found schooling near any major rocky pinnacle. Black rockfish are most common and are easy to catch. With generous bag limits, most anglers fish a double-hook rig. Swimbaits and curly tail grubs on 1 oz to 3 oz jigheads work extremely well in shallow water. Metal jigs like the Point Wilson Dart, Pline Laser Minnow or Buzz Bomb from 1 oz to 3 oz will work extremely well.

To set up a two hook rig tie a top hook with a palomer knot, leaving a longer tag line to tie on your jighead or metal jig. Either use a curly tail grub on that hook, or tie in a shrimp fly.

Westport Jetty Fishing

Westport jetty fishing

Westport has always been Washington’s most popular fishing port. Dubbed Salmon Capital of the World, Westport has a reputation as the place to go if you want to catch salmon. While most of today’s hype is of Westport’s ocean fisheries for salmon, halibut and bottomfish, it offers shore bound anglers the chance at some quality bottomfishing at the Westport Jetty.

About the Westport Jetty

The Westport Jetty pierces the Pacific Ocean at the mouth of Grays Harbor. It is considered part of Westport Light State Park (Often refered to as Westhaven State Park). This Washington State Park is popular with beach combers, surfers and anglers. The jetty is about 1 mile long, and requires some serious effort to hike to the end. Near the beach, the jetty is composed of smaller boulders and is an easier hike.

Jetty rocks are extremely hazardous to walk on while wet, so be careful! Fishing can be excellent on both the Grays Harbor side or Pacific Ocean side of the jetty, yet the water on the Pacific side is usually too rough to fish.

Anglers target surf perch near the jetty from the beach, but jetty anglers target black rockfish, lingcod and greenling.

Gearing up for the Westport Jetty

Typically, the fish at the Westport Jetty aren’t monsters. Most bottomfish weigh between 1 to 10 pounds. The two main factors when determining what rod to bring are as follows. Lingcod often ambush baits and immediately retreat back into their rocky burrows. Having a rod that can force lingcod to the surface is required. Also, light lines can be easily frayed from the rocks and barnacles of the jetty, so we typically use between 15 to 20 pound line.

Since jigging is the method of choice, a shorter rod with a fast action works well. We use the Shimano Clarus 7’9″ 12-30lb casting rod, anything close to this length and taper will do.

Westport Jetty Lingcod

Lingcod live in the cracks between the jetty’s rocks. They wait in their burrows for passing prey to swim by, then they ambush it, and immediately retreat to their home.

Fishing the structure of the jetty requires a 1/2 oz. to 2 oz. jighead to get down. Cast a short distance, and allow your jig to stay as close the the structure as possible. Often times this results in plenty of lost tackle, but it is the most effective way to catch lingcod from the jetty.

Soft plastic curly tail grubs are excellent lures for lings, as are swimbaits. Lingcod aren’t shy, and large swimbaits will attract the most aggressive lings nearby.

Once a lingcod is hooked from the jetty, it needs to be yanked away from its burrow quickly…or else the chance of landing it is slim. Many serious jetty anglers bring a net to assist in landing trophy lings.

Westport Jetty Rockfish

Black rockfish are the most common bottomfish at the Westport Jetty. Although they are called a “bottomfish” they suspend and are often found off the bottom, at whatever depth has forage. Smaller 1/4 oz. to 1 oz jigheads work well for rockfish, use 4″ to 6″ curlytail grubs or swimbaits.

Metal jigs can work extremely well for rockfish, but most jetty anglers use inexpensive jigheads.

Westport Jetty Greenling

Greenling are the easiest of all bottomfish to catch at the Westport Jetty. They are abundant, and can be found in the sandy bottom away from the jetty as well as in the rocks. Use a small slip egg sinker, a short leader accompanied with bait. Still fishing with clam necks, small herring strips, sand shrimp or cocktail shrimp will catch these smaller bottomfish. On occasion, anglers reeling in a greenling or small rockfish will be surprised by the vicious attack from a hungry lingcod. While light tackle fishing is fun, gear up to land the big ones, if they happen to hit!