Fishing for Ling Cod is one of the best fishing trips you will ever be on. Ling Cod are a true predator. They basically will eat pretty much anything that will fit in their gaping mouths or that they can rip a chuck out of with their razor sharp teeth.
These fish are at the top of the food chain with the exception of sharks. And they are not really all that picky, if they get hold of another ling cod, it’s just another meal.
To catch these you pretty much just have to be where they are, and that’s on the bottom.
You can hook these in midwater or even at the top at times as they will follow other fish up and feed on them at any depth, but mostly they like the bottom.
Here are a few tips in catching ling cod from the depths.
1) Bait: Ling Cod will bite almost anything but if you have small bait you tend to attract other less agressive fish, so bigger baits work better. 8″ Gulp bait squid are good. Big lead jigs with 6-8″ scampi tails on them are also good. You can even use herring and the like (those these will also be more fair game for anything)
2) The Bite: Ling Cod attack with fury, they tend to hit hard and fast with the intent to swallow whatever it is they are hitting and or be able to rip chunks off. So you have to be ready. If a ling hits and you don’t set the hook on the first try, it’s likely the game is over before you know what happened.
3) Gear: Fishing with heavy gear is really good when you are fighting a big ling, but is much harder to get a feel for the bottom and the strike when it happens. I like to use a light Uglystick Tuna rod with #30 braided line that is about the size of normal #8 line. This gives you a very sensitive combo and yet has the setting power and pole to fight even a big ling.
4) Be Prepared: I don’t know how many times I have gotten or seen lings come up as hitchhikers. They are either following up another hooked fish, or firmly attached to another fish. Either way you need to be ready. DON’T and I repeat DON’T let the fishes head break the waters surface. 99 times out of 100 the moment the lings head comes out of the water he’ll let go and bolt. But keep the head under the water and he’ll hold on. These fish need to be netted. Usually they are so engrossed in their meal plans they don’t even notice the net until it’s too late.
5) The Bottom: Naturally Ling Cod like the bottom the best. That is their territory. So if you can keep your bait their you are more likely to get these big lings. I often fish with heavier jigs so that I can stay on the bottom and drift less. On the upside this is where they hang out and it’s where Ling Cod bite most often. On the downside it’s a good place to loose gear. If it’s your own gear that is fine. If it is a charter boats gear it’s best to just fish normal. I have been on trips where I have landed as many as 6 lings and never lost a bait, and other times I have gotten less and lost a lot more. To me it’s worth it, I love catching Lings, they are awesome.
Those are the tips that will consistently help you land more Ling Cod. If you have some of your own, feel free to comment here. Below I will put some images of ling cod lures and baits I have used.