Lingcod, Ophiodon elongatus
The Lingcod, Ophiodon elongatus, whose Spanish common name is molva is not a true Cod and is a species in the family Hexagrammidae, the Greenlings, known collectively as molvas in Mexico. Globally, there is only one species in the genus Ophiodon, this species found in Mexican waters of the extreme Northwest coast of Baja of the Pacific.
The Lingcod are a large species with a long elongated cylindrical body that narrow toward the tail. They are gray to brown in color, greenish or bluish, with darker and lighter spotting and lighter ventrally. They have a prominent white lateral line. The anal fin has three spines and twenty one to twenty four rays; the caudal fin is truncated; the dorsal fin has twenty four to twenty seven spines and twenty one to twenty four rays and is long separated into two parts with a notch. The head has a large mouth that extends past the eyes equipped with small pointed teeth interspersed with large canine-like teeth. They have a cirrus above the eye. The head does not have scales however the body is covered with scales.
Lingcod are bottom dwellers found in and around rocky areas, adjacent to large drop-offs, with good water movement, normally at depths between 30 and 330 feet but they have been documented at depths of 1,400 feet. They reach a maximum length of 152 cm (60 inches) and 59 kg (130 pounds) in weight. They are generally a deep-water slow moving non-migratory species that makes them a “sitting duck” for recreational anglers. They are voracious predators consuming fish, invertebrates, octopi and squid.
In turn they are preyed upon by Sea Lions and Harbor Seals. Males have life spans of 14 years; females of 20 years. Reproduction is oviparous with each female lying between 150,000 and 500,000 eggs per annum. The eggs deposited in crevices and under rocks which are then guarded by the male until they hatch.
The Lingcod have a limited distribution in Mexican waters being limited to the first 275 miles of the Pacific side of the Northwest coast of Baja with fish taken as far south as Punta San Carlos.
The Lingcod, mainly due to their size are a straightforward identification. They are similar to the Cabezon, Scorpaenichthys marmaratus (lack large teeth).