A family trip in 2021 yielded a limit of lingcod for Chad Smith (center), wife Sara and their three sons Logan (right) and Zac, plus brother-in-law Kyle McCullough (left), including a 35-inch lingcod that snapped Chad’s rod in two when it hit. Photo courtesy of Northwest Sportsman Magazine.

Key in on structure around Puget Sound for hard-fighting lingcod

Puget Sound’s ‘stable’ fishery for the toothsome and tasty species is now open for business.

Part of the fun of lingcod fishing is they can be caught with a variety of methods including jigs, swimbaits, flies, mooching herring or squid, or using live bait such as sand dabs (a type of flatfish), greenling or shiner perch. Photo by Ben Matthews.

Where to go

Anglers who do a little homework on how to catch a lingcod will certainly raise the bar of fishing success.

Anglers call large lingcod “sea dragons” for a reason. In Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca (Marine Areas 5–13) there is a slot limit on lingcod retention. Only fish between 26 and 36 inches may be kept by hook and line anglers. Photo by Chase Gunnell.

Fishing gear and tips

Lingcod eat just about anything, including flounder, rockfish, octopus, sculpin, kelp greenling, herring, crabs, squid, octopus, and pollock. But a favorite meal is the abundant Puget Sound flounder population found along sandy-bottomed areas. That makes Pacific sand dab or other small flounders the top choice for live bait amongst local anglers.

Lingcod can be found throughout much of Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but with its rocky substrate the San Juan Islands are one of the better places to jig, and for bigger fish too. Photo courtesy of Northwest Sportsman Magazine.

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The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.