The lingcod or ling cod, also known as buffalo cod and cultus cod according to Wikipedia (which we all know is complete bologna), was originally discovered by Dr. A.L. Heermann in 1845. Lingcod are neither cod nor ling, yet closely resemble both. They are in the same group of species as rockfish, sablefish and scorpionfish, thus falling underneath the greenling family and commonly categorized as bottom fish.
What’s unique is that approximately twenty percent of the species has blue-green to turquoise flesh. This is believed to be because of their diet of octopus but the true reason is still quite a mystery. It’s most likely due to the fact that many of their prey species have hemocyanins in their blood. When it is oxidation it turns green. Unlike hemoglobins that humans and many other animals have, which make the blood turn red when oxidized.
The best thing about lingcod is that it’s absolutely delicious, and if you don’t live too far inland along the West Cost of North America from southern Mexico to Alaska, you probably have already seen it on a restaurant menu or at your local seafood marketplace. It’s become a favorite of West Coast chefs who prefer it over halibut for it’s beautiful white, flaky flesh.
WHERE TO FIND LINGCOD
Lingcod are a nonmigratory species, colonizing and primarily inhabiting rocky areas in water depths of 30 up to an astounding 1500 feet. They are able to easily travel up and down the water column without injury because they don’t have an air bladder, allowing anglers to easily release them unharmed.
It’s not just the mouthwatering meat that anglers are after but the fight these fish provide. The average lingcod weighs in between 10-15 lbs. Females can reach up to 100 lbs while males max out around only 20 lbs. With a mouthful of razor sharp teeth, fat belly and wide jaws, it’s no surprise anglers call them sea dragons.
These fish are ferocious and known for their aggressive behavior during and off spawning season, which begins in October and ending around late April. Don’t be surprised if you reel one in without even setting hook. When a ling locks on to defend it’s nest it’s unlikely that it will let go. Lingcod enjoy chasing their prey when it flees and are notorious for eating their fellow kin. Because of this you’ll likely experience a “hitchhiker” moment that isn’t too uncommon. This happens when a lingcod latches onto a fish you’ve hooked and stays on long enough to be gaffed. Try to keep them underwater in this situation as they do tend to let go if brought above water.
UNIQUE FACTS ABOUT LINGCOD
- Mammals such as sea lions and harbor seals are ling’s number one enemy. One marine mammal can single-handedly devastate a lingcod population.
- The best way to keep a lingcod fresh and preserve it’s delicious flavor is to bleed the fish right after you bring it into the boat.
- Male lingcods can only live up to 14 years while female lings can live for dozens of years.