The Lingcod Fishery

Lingcod are a highly sought-after, white-fleshed fish. They are widely distributed over rocky bottom areas from the sea surface to over 400 metres deep and are found from California to Alaska. Lingcod males mature at two years of age and can live for up to 14 years (90 cm) and females mature at three and live up to 20 years (120 cm). A mature female Lingcod can lay up to 500,000 eggs in a spawning season. 

Our fishery is closely monitored by DFO. We use video monitoring systems which record an image of every fish brought to the surface and onto the boat. Using our simple “gang-troll” fishing gear, every fish is enumerated and reported as we are required to have Lingcod quota for every fish we capture. This is the case with all commercial fisheries on the BC coast, every fish is documented and reported. BC troll caught Lingcod is an Ocean Wise sustainable seafood and Seafood Watch ‘Best Choice’ or ‘Good Alternative’.

The Lingcod fishery opens on April 1. Kingsley and crew fish their way up the inshore waters of BC’s central coast, in April, and through the near-shore waters of Haida Gwaii in May. It is a solitary pursuit and the lads often go days without seeing another boat. They enjoy the fishery and appreciate the rugged and wild beauty of the North Coast as Spring arrives.

Our fishing method is simple. Six or seven weighted jigs are fished on short leaders under a main horizontal line that is attached to a heavy weight or ‘cannonball’, which is lowered from the boat on a steel wire. The wire is spooled on a hydraulically operated gurdy that is raised and lowered by a crewman on the boat. This rig is towed a fathom or two over rocky Lingcod habitat. Hooked fish are brought onboard, stunned, bled, dressed, washed and placed in the boat’s freezer-hold, where they are quickly core-frozen to -30° C.

Lingcod is not a high-volume fishery. Due to the unpredictable and violent springtime weather, the boat is often hunkered down in a remote anchorage, occasionally for several days running, as yet another springtime storm blasts through. The boat makes landfall in a remote coastal village every two or three weeks and unloads in late May, at the end of our season. June is the “hurry-up” month as summer is here. It’s time to repair and re-rig the NERKA #1 and get her away for the new Albacore Tuna season.