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Sunday, January 20 , 2019, 7:27 am | Fair 47º


Captain’s Log: Hitchhiking Lingcod Give Anglers a Rough Ride

A stubborn lingcod latches onto a rockfish, not even on the hook! Click to view larger
A stubborn lingcod latches onto a rockfish, not even on the hook! (David Bacon / Noozhawk photo)

It happens all the time… anglers give rides to hitchhikers and then have them for dinner. I’m talking about encounters with voracious and tenacious lingcod, which have a hungry habit that earns them the nickname, “hitchhiker."

Lingcod, a member of the greenling family, are very even-tempered fish. They are mad all the time!

Well, perhaps not mad, but vicious and territorial. Plus, they just seem to have a bad attitude, like the junkyard dogs of the rocky reefs they call home.

We love to fish for them because they taste great and they are a blast to catch. They frequently lie in wait in a lair or grotto in between rocks of the reef and blast out to ambush prey that might include fish, squid, octopus and an amazing variety of other meals.

It is usually quite interesting to examine the stomach contents of a freshly caught lingcod.

They love rockfish, which also live in the rocky reef zone. These are red snapper, copper rockfish and other members of the Sebastes family.

Often when we hook a small-to-medium rockfish and begin to reel it up from the rocks, a hungry lingcod (they are pretty much always hungry) will bite that rockfish and hang on stubbornly. Really stubbornly!

I’ve reeled them up hundreds of feet and they just hang on, unwilling to give up their meal. Much of the time the lingcod is not on the hook, just holding onto the rockfish, unwilling to relinquish its intended meal.

This is maybe the most stubborn act I’ve seen critters engage in. At times lingcod will totally ignore the dangers of being at the surface of the sea with people around and a gaff or net entering the water.

I’ve had lingcod come aboard my charter boat WaveWalker in a net or on a gaff and still not let go of a rockfish until I pry it out of its mouth.

I feel like lingcod deserve the award (if one is ever given) for the most stubborn critter in the sea (and maybe on land or in the air).​

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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