Ophiodon elongatus

Physical Description

  • Long bodies that narrow at the tail
  • Dark grey, brown, or greenish coloration on back with copper mottling on upper back
  • Large head and large mouth on bottom of head; 18 large sharp teeth
  • Can weigh up to 80 pounds and be as long as 5 feet
  • By about age 4, female lingcod grow faster than the males
  • Flesh can naturally be blue-green prior to cooking


  • From Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska to Baja California, Mexico
  • Most abundant near British Columbia and Washington
  • Not common in southern California, tend to like colder waters


  • Shallow, rocky habitats
  • Live on rocky reefs and ocean bottoms
  • Often at depths of 30-300 feet. Can be found at depths of 1500 feet or more 


  • Males are sexually mature at 2 years old, and 20 inches long; females at 3 years old and 30 inches long
  • Mating occurs in late fall. Males become territorial over nests
  • Females are only at their nests long enough to lay the eggs
  • Males guard nesting areas for 8-10 weeks until the eggs hatch
  • Males have been known to attack humans while guarding eggs
  • The egg masses can weigh 15 pounds and be 2.5 feet across!  


  • Larval lingcod feed on zooplankton, like krill, larval crabs, and larval lobsters
  • Juvenile lingcod feed on other small fish
  • Adult lingcod are aggressive predators. They eat many bottom-dwelling fish, including smaller lingcod. They also eat squid, octopus, and crab


  • Lingcod eggs are eaten by rockfish, sea stars, sculpins, kelp greenling, and cod
  • Larval and adult lingcod are eaten by larger lingcod, marine mammals, and sharks

Interesting Facts

  • Lingcod are not cod at all. They are in the same group of fish as sablefish, Pacific rockfish, and scorpionfish.
  • These fish can live more than 20 years.

Sources: NOAA Fisheries; EDF Seafood Source; Monterey Bay Aquarium; Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Photo: Kevin Lee

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