Lingcod, Ophiodon elongatus: The Lingcod is actually not a cod but is a greenling and a larger member of the Hexagrammids Family which includes the genus Ophiodon. The Lingcod is a deep-water, slow moving, non-migratory species that is a voracious predator, making it a “sitting duck” for anglers.
The Lingcod has a long, elongated, cylindrical body that narrows toward the tail. It is dark gray, brown, tan, bluish, or green on the back with molting or spotting along the upper side. The Lingcod has a large head with a great gapping mouth, a projecting lower jaw, numerous sharp teeth, a single dorsal fin with a long base and spines and soft rays separated by a notch, a truncated caudal fin, and a prominent single lateral line.
This fish species is similar to the Painted Greeling, Oxylebius pictus (small mouths), and the Shortspine Combfish, Zaniolepis frenata (second dorsal spine longer than the third). The Lingcod reaches 5 feet in length and just over 100 pounds in weight. It is considered a highly prized game fish, especially in Southern California, but catch rates are low and have continually diminished due to overfishing. In some areas the Lingcod is considered to be an endangered species. It is also slow growing. The Lingcod feeds on small crustaceans, fishes, and mollusks. Each female lays between 150,000 and 500,000 eggs per annum.
The Lingcod is normally found between 30 and 300 feet in the water column over rocky reefs adjacent to large drop-offs with good water movement. It has a limited distribution in Mexican fishing waters being found only in the first 300 miles of the Pacific side of the Baja California peninsula "cool water zone," with fish taken as far south as Punta San Carlos. Lingcod is viewed as excellent table fare.