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The Chow Down on Lingcod

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A 5-foot monstrous fish bears its razor sharp teeth into a Chinook salmon, as the salmon frantically twists its shiny silver body back and forth, fighting for its life. The location is the chilly sea of Vancouver Island. The attacker is the ferocious, and delicious, lingcod.

This is a scene from the YouTube video “Salmon Fights Lingcod While Diving Vancouver Island.” With more than 700,000 views, it gives a grizzly peak into the dark depths and feeding of a lingcod — a fish that’s not a true cod but a greenling.

Lifelong fisherman Tino Villaluz, 41, usually catches lingcod around the San Juan Islands in places with rocky formations. He said he often uses squid jigs or uses anchovies and herring for bait.

Their 18 canine-like teeth — set in an upper-extending jaw that helps to grip its prey — helps them to be able to aggressively feed in the West Coast waters of North America.  While living up to 25 years and growing up to 130 pounds, these monstrous fish are “extreme predators,” Tino said.

While fishing around Cypress Island in 2000, Tino saw the lingcod’s aggression firsthand. Tino said he hooked 5-plus-foot lingcod with its jaws gripping a smaller lingcod.

“The [larger] lingcod was never hooked, but I brought it on the boat,” said Tino, “just because they’re such a ferocious predator.”

The Department of Fish & Wildlife’s fishing regulation for lingcod, however, states that any lingcod must be between 26 and 36 inches to be able to keep them.

These regulations forced Tino to free the smaller, and larger, lingcod back to their home in the chilly waters of the Pacific Northwest. It was a feat for the fisherman and a stroke of luck for the hungry fish.


Department of Fish & Wildlife

Alaska Department of Fish & Wildlife