While we’re enjoying big blue skies and bright, sunny conditions this week, northwesterly winds blowing 15 to 25 are keeping anglers down inside the shelter of Virago Sound. Salmon fishing continues to be productive with consistent catches of Coho and Chinooks in the near-shore waters. An 11-foot morning flood tide moving with the westerlies provides decent opportunities to get offshore far enough to pick up some bottomfish, before the ebb starts and the sea gets a bit lumpy for comfort!
Given good conditions, QCL anglers do very well on halibut and lingcod while they’re here. Modern Navionics and depth sounders have mapped the undersea world to the point that guides are able to navigate an amazing world down 200-300 feet below. With the right skillset and some creative planning, they’re finding excellent catches of tasty lingcod and halibut. Challenges enough remain to keep it a very interesting exercise for anglers to put a few in the box! But those rewards are some of the finest fish dinners they’ll ever have!
Lingcod are very common and plentiful in the area and are carefully managed by Fisheries & Oceans. Anglers may retain 3 lingcod per day so the possession limit on a trip is 6. They can be found in less than 100 feet of water near shore but we typically fish for them offshore among pinnacles at depths of 200-300 feet. They are extremely structure-oriented so anglers must work hard to get on the structure long enough to present the jig/bait before drifting off with wind or tide. Lots of repositioning of the boat, lots of reeling and, lots of reeling! But the medium-firm, moist, and flavourful white flesh of lingcod is well worth the effort!
Lingcod can live 20-25 years and females mature at 3-5 years of age at an average length of 24-30 inches. They spawn in nests / crevices from December into March, and the males guard the nests until the eggs hatch. That’s why lingcod season is closed mid-November thru April 1st – they guard aggressively and are extremely vulnerable to anglers. Lingcod are highly susceptible to overfishing so they are closely managed from the Aleutian Islands all the way to Baja California!