The lingcod, Ophiodon elongatus, or ling cod, is a fish of the greenling family Hexagrammidae. It is the only extant member of the genus Ophiodon. Wikipedia
Among Southern California anglers, the lingcod goes by many names. Buffalo cod. Buckethead. Gator bass. Godzilla. Lingasaur. Yet within its realm, the lingcod possesses the heart of a dragon. Intimidating and dominant, it bursts from deep, jagged lairs on winglike pectorals, gobbling prey with fearsome, toothy jaws. When hooked, it uncorks its fiery wrath, pinning anglers to the rail, often destroying lines within seconds.
Southern California lingcod don’t grow as large as in Alaska. Two-fish daily limits are not unusual, and lings weighing in excess of 25 pounds are fairly common. The California state record is 56 pounds, which was set in 1992.
Yet, like mythical creatures, these lingcod mystify even the experts, appearing suddenly in great numbers, then just as quickly vanishing.
MPA & Other Restrictions
A number of new state-mandated Marine Protected Areas took effect off the Southern California coast and offshore islands in 2012, and most of these areas are closed to fishing.
While the regulations for lingcod change frequently, the current minimum-size limit is 22 inches in the Southern Groundfish Management Area, which stretches from Point Conception to the Mexican border. The daily bag limit is two fish per licensed angler.
This year, lingcod season is March 1 to Dec. 31, with fishing closed from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28. In addition, it is illegal to fish in depths greater than 300 feet.
To learn how you can stay legal in the face of the MPAs and other restrictions, visit dfg.ca.gov/marine.