The lingcod is a very aggressive fish. They can be found along the entire Pacific coast of North America, from Alaska all the way to Baja, Mexico. Their only natural predators are ocean mammals like sea lions and bigger lingcod, to which they are susceptible during their juvenile period, when they live in shallower water. Once they are mature, they settle in deeper water and only go to shallow water to spawn. So for the majority of their life, they’re the master of their domain. Their aggression and lack of fear reflects this behavioral trait.

Lingcod are ambush hunters. They like to settle on rocky outcroppings and wait for unsuspecting prey to swim by. They’re very territorial, so they will defend their spot, which makes them fun to target using all kinds of lures. As fun as they are to catch on lures, however, one of the more remarkable ways to catch a lingcod is as a hitchhiker. What is a hitchhiker, you might ask? It’s when a ling grabs onto a bait or another fish you have hooked and rides it all the way up to the boat. Your hook isn’t actually hooking the lingcod; they’re just so aggressive they don’t understand that they’re the prey until they’re inside the boat.

This video taken in Alaska illustrates just what I mean by a hitchhiking lingcod.

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Joe is an avid saltwater angler. He grew up in Washington State on the south end of Puget Sound where he first started fishing as a boy catching perch, flounder, rockfish, and occasionally salmon. Today, Joe lives in Southern California where he fishes off beaches and jetties, kayaks, and sportfishing boats. Joe writes about his saltwater adventures in the SoCal Salty blog, and for Western Outdoor News.