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DID YOU KNOW? Lingcod populations are easily impacted by changes in their environment because they are slow growing and non-migratory.
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ophiodon elongatus, from the Greek ophis or snake, odons meaning tooth, and Latin elongatus or elongate.
COMMON NAMES: Cultus cod, blue cod, bluefish, green cod, buffalo cod, and white cod.
DESCRIPTION: The lingcod has a large head, large mouth, and large teeth. Its long, elongate body tends to narrow towards the tail. It has one long dorsal fin with the spinous and soft-rayed parts separated by a notch. Its body coloration tends to be dark gray, brown or a greenish color on the back with varying degrees of mottling or spotting present along the upper back. Lingcod can reach up to 5 feet in length.
LIFECYCLE: Lingcod spawn from November through April, usually within the inter-tidal zone in rocks or crevices. Females generally produce 60,000 to 500,000 eggs, depending on individual body size. The fertilized eggs attach to the rocky substrate, usually in large masses, up to 30 pounds of eggs in one mass. Males can spawn with more than one female in the same egg mass. The male guards the nest and apparently fans or moves water over the eggs with his tail. The eggs commonly hatch in six weeks, and sexual maturity is commonly reached in 2-3 years. Lingcod begin life in near-surface marine waters and estuarine areas. As juveniles lingcod primarily use estuaries, while adults are usually found in marine waters of 100-150 M deep.
RANGE: Along the Pacific coast from Baja California to the Shumigan Islands in the Gulf of Alaska; although most abundant from Pt. Conception, California to Cape Spencer, Alaska.
HABITAT AND ECOLOGY: Lingcod lay eggs requiring well-oxygenated water in rocky, marine sub-tidal areas in crevices and overhangs. Larvae are found in the near-surface marine waters and estuarine areas. In this life-stage, lingcod feed primarily on copepods, eggs, and other crustaceans. As it matures, lingcod are commonly found in shallow, inter-tidal areas of bays near algae and seagrass beds. Mature lingcod feed primarily on other fish and smaller lingcod.
Because of its tendency to live around rocky coastal areas with good water movement and plentiful food, the lingcod is susceptible to petrochemical spills and can accumulate concentrations of heavy metals. Human impacts in estuaries, such as dredging shoreline for development, alteration and filling of wetlands, and runoff of nutrients from residential and agricultural areas, also pose a threat to the lingcod.
ECONOMIC VALUE: The lingcod is an important commercial species in Washington, Oregon, California and Alaska. In Puget Sound, lingcod is the eighth most important commercial species. In addition to its commercial value, lingcod is a highly valued sport fish because of its large size and excellent taste.