One fish that I had never heard of until I fished Alaska for the first time is the Lingcod. When I saw the first one on the dock, caught by another fisherman, I thought, “That is the ugliest fish I have ever seen.”
The Lingcod is a not a cod, but is a member of the greenling family. Lingcod are brown (think mud) with brown spots. They have a massive head that appears to be all mouth. Did I tell you that they are ugly? They have very prominent sharp teeth.
The lingcod is a voracious eater and has been to eat anything and everything. I have read stories of them latching their jaws into halibut or rock fish that are being reeled in and having to be pried off by the fisherman.
Lingcod grow to be over 80 lbs. and 60 inches in length. Their lifespan is up to 25 years. They can be found at depths of 1000 feet but prefer and are more commonly found in the 30 to 300 foot range.
When their eggs are layed, the male will stand guard duty over the nest until the babies have hatched. Lingcod are mostly home-bodies, never moving very far from their chosen home territory.
Lingcod are only found along the West coast of the US. They are very common in Alaskan waters and can be found as far south as Southern California.
The meat from lingcod is very white with large, firm flakes. It is said to be more tender than halibut and is preferred over halibut by some people. It is a very tasty and nutritious meat.
Lingcod in Alaska are most often caught by jigging in areas with a rocky bottom. A baited hook with a jig skirt would be a likely choice. They are aggressive at taking the bait and provide a good fight. Just be ready for… ugly… when they break the surface.
Included below are a couple of links with more information about these great fish.
Categories: Bottom Fishing, Fishing, Halibut, Salmon Tags: Alaska, Alaskan Bottom Fishing, Alaskan fishing, Alaskan halibut, Alaskan Rock Fish, Alaskan salmon, fishing, halibut, Jim Kell, Lingcod, rock cod, Salmon Fishing, saltwater fishing
The policies (and politics) that affect fishing regulations in Alaska can be complicated and difficult to understand. This is mostly due to the fact that the regulations are made by different entities. The State of Alaska is responsible for some of the species while NOAA is responsible for other species. Some of the species are regulated by agreements with other countries while other species are covered by US federal regulations. Still other species have only state regulations. Then there are different groups who all want the fish. The Native Alaskans, the commercial fishermen who fish for an income, and the sport fishermen who fish for fun, all want to have a share in the catch. It can make for a complicated mix of who has the say and who gets the fish.
I won’t get in to right and wrong or opinions of how it should be. My only goal with this post is to try to explain why the regulations are the done the way that they are.
Alaska has five species of salmon, five species of crab, Pollock, Pacific cod, Pacific halibut, lingcod, pollock, herring, several species of shrimp, several varieties of rockfish and flatfish,… all oceangoing species. In addition there are many species of trout, steelhead, dolly varden char, and others that are regulated in the rivers, lakes, and streams of Alaska. Just listing all of the species and who has a regulatory interest in them could make for a long list.
Basically, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) is over all of the Pacific Halibut regulations while the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is over the most of the other fishing regulations within the state of Alaska and its offshore waters. That being said, the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game does have to listen to other groups who help in the decision making and have a vote on the regulations for many of the federally regulated species and species that are of interest to other countries.
Then, one has to consider what is best for the fish. They must be managed in such a way as to keep the species strong and their numbers growing. Their habitat must be protected and their food sources considered.
After all of this, there is the problem of who gets to have the fish that are harvested. The US government has made treaties with the Native Alaskans giving them rights to continue fishing as they have done for years. The commercial fishermen depend on catching and then selling their catch in order to make a living. The sport fishermen like you and I enjoy the chance to go and catch our own dinner. Each group has a legitimate argument and some claim on the available catch.
In all, it makes for a complicated set of regulations in order to give each group AND the fish a fair shake. The end goal is to give Alaskan fishing the best possible future.
Categories: Alaskan Tourism, Bottom Fishing, Fishing, Halibut, Salmon Tags: Alaska, Alaskan Bottom Fishing, Alaskan Crab, Alaskan fishing, Alaskan fishing regulations, Alaskan halibut, Alaskan Rock Fish, Alaskan salmon, fishing, fishing policy, halibut, Jim Kell, Lingcod, rock cod, salmon, Salmon Fishing, saltwater fishing, trout
Of course there are many fish caught on lures in Alaska just as there are anywhere else and it is also quite true that there are as many different lures as there are fishermen. In fact, I have a fishing buddy who insists that lures never were intended to catch fish. He avidly maintains that lures were invented to catch fishermen. Never the less, today’s topic will deal with natural bait rather than lures or man-made bait.
By far the most commonly used bait in ocean or saltwater fishing in Alaska is the herring. A herring is a small fish caught out of the ocean. They are mostly found in great schools of tens to hundreds or more of thousands. These little fish are an average length of 6-9 inches long. They are caught commercially and frozen to be used for many uses, bait being one of them. Many of the guide services and fishing lodges have them delivered weekly or more often. They come frozen in boxes just the same as beef or pork is handled in the Lower 48 States.
These small fish are threaded on to the hook of the Salmon or Halibut line and lowered into the water to do their job. It is a job that they perform well. They may also be caught and used live or fresh and will always perform better fresh than frozen.
Also used as bait for halibut are the heads of salmon and the bellies of the salmon left over from the filleting process. The Salmon bellies are extremely tough and leathery and will stay on a hook almost indefinitely. We quite often use a mix of several or all of the above on the same hook. The salmon head is one bait that is hard to steal off of your hook. Insert the hook inside of the mouth and then bring it out through the top of the head, through the bone of the skull and it is almost theft-proof. It is true that its size may appear intimidating, but I can assure you that a large halibut will make short work of it. Sometimes a brightly colored plastic jig-skirt is also added to the mix. Some fishermen also have their own favorite artificial scent that may be added.
Halibut are fished below the boat, usually at anchor and the bait (or lure) is dropped to the bottom and then jigged. Jigging means that one would let the bait settle to the bottom and then occasionally jerk the pole and line up to raise he bait a couple of feet, then let it settle back to the bottom, repeatedly. The idea it to simulate movement and to attract the attention of the target fish, in this case halibut or rockfish.
For salmon, quite often the herring is cut in half with either half then having a hook threaded through it to be trolled for salmon. Flashers are usually used with this setup, again to attract the attention of the salmon. I usually use a double hook rig with the both hooks embedded in the herring.
One of the big disadvantages to frozen herring is that when it thaws it gets a little bit soft which makes it harder to keep on the hook. The lines must be checked more often to be sure that he bait is still intact.
The bottom feeders like the rock cod, the lingcod, etc will also eat all of these different combinations. All of the bottom feeders including Halibut, Cod, Rock fish, etc are scavengers and that prefer their food come to them rather than to go out and hunt it down.
We will address lures in another post.
Categories: Bottom Fishing, Fishing, Halibut, Salmon Tags: Alaska, Alaskan Bottom Fishing, Alaskan fishing, Alaskan fishing regulations, Alaskan halibut, Alaskan Rock Fish, Alaskan salmon, bait, fishing, halibut, herring, Jim Kell, Lingcod, rock cod, salmon, Salmon Fishing, saltwater fishing
Fishing in Alaska has become a very popular destination for the modern day angler. The State of Alaska says that it has 500,000 fishermen and women visit their state every year in pursuit of Alaska’s prized river and ocean bounty. These fishermen come from all over the United States and even from all over the world. It doesn’t matter where they come from, the all have one thing on their mind… the excellent sport that comes from catching Alaska’s fish.
The majority come chasing after salmon and halibut but there are also many who have found a favorite in some of Alaska’s “lesser known ” species.
Alaska boasts record numbers of salmon caught. There are five major species of salmon found and caught in Alaska. They are:
- King or Chinook Salmon
- Silver or Coho Salmon
- Sockeye or Red Salmon
- Pink or Humpy Salmon
- Chum or Dog Salmon
These fish provide a great thrill for any angler. They also provide a great healthy meal for all who are able to fill their cooler or freezer with this tasty meat.
Alaska’s halibut fishing also is a great feat to have mastered. There is a great excitement in setting the hook on one of these monsters of the deep. It truly is a lot of work to bring one of these “barndoor” monsters up from 400 feet deep only to have it run out, overheat your reel, and make you start all over again. One must have great arm and back muscles to land one of these prizes. Imagine a fish that weighs as much as you do, hooked in his own back yard and fighting you on his own turf.
There are fewer people who know about some of the lesser known species but some of which are just as fun to catch and just as good to eat. Pollock is a major export from Alaska. It is fast becoming one of the most commonly used fish in many of the processed fish products but it also can be a great treat battered and fried in your favorite beer batter and served along with French fries or coleslaw. There are many fishermen who go to Alaska targeting the black rockfish and yellow-eyed rockfish that lurk in the depths of Alaska’s oceans. They, also, are real treat added to any menu. Lingcod are another species that are being caught quite often by anglers. In the past they were mostly caught on accident by fisherman after halibut but more and more, ocean anglers are targeting these tasty prizes. It seems that if you catch one, you can drop again in the same spot and catch several more. They fight pretty well and make a very tasty fillet in your cooler.
We have all seen the episodes of Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel and so we all know that Alaska is the place to go for crab but also due to the TV show, we may have the idea that we could never catch these crab ourselves. In fact, the TV show deals with commercial crabbing which has very different rules and needs than the average sportsman’s variety of crabbing. You and I aren’t trying to fill a ship with crab, we just want a few. Crabs are caught in crab pots, little cages with bait inside. The crab pot is dropped to the bottom with a rope and a buoy to mark its location. It is typically left overnight and then pulled to the surface by the fisherman the next day. The crabs are then extracted.
Similarly, shrimp and prawns are caught in a baited pot. I am amazed at the size of the shellfish that I have seen brought to the surface in these little pots. You have never eaten a better shrimp than these hand-sized little morsels cooked up fresh.
There are many species of the trout family including steelhead, Dolly Varden, rainbow trout, etc. that are also commonly fished from Alaska’s waters. All are great fighters and all make for good eating.
This is just a sampling of what Alaska has to offer. It is well worth making an excursion to give it a try.
Categories: Bottom Fishing, Fishing, Freshwater Fishing, Halibut, Salmon Tags: Alaska, Alaskan Bottom Fishing, Alaskan Crab, Alaskan fishing, Alaskan halibut, Alaskan Rock Fish, Alaskan salmon, Alaskan vacation, family fishing, fishing, halibut, Jim Kell, Lingcod, rock cod, salmon, Salmon Fishing, saltwater fishing, trout
I am an avid fisherman and hunter and have been for my whole life. For the most part, my fishing is confined to within a couple of hours of home. I am lucky enough to have lots of good fishing holes nearby. We have excellent fishing for trout,bass, perch, crappie, and bluegill, all with a couple of hours of home. We load up the kids and the boat and go 2-3 times a month through spring, summer and fall. In the winter we drag out the ice auger and punch holes in the ice.
A few years ago I had my first opportunity to try fishing in Alaska. It was the culmination of many years of wishing and hoping and dreaming of giving it a try. I spent 8 days there and loved every minute of it. We started at 5am everyday and quit at 11pm every night. After we caught our limits, we caught and released over and over and over. We just couldn’t bring ourselves to quit and go sit in the lodge.
At the end of the week, the 4 of us amassed over 450 lbs of frozen fillets to bring home. More than that, I got hooked. What I had thought would be a once in a lifetime trip turned into an addiction. The morning after I came home, I started planning and saving for the next trip.
I have had such great experiences that I think that everyone should try it at least once. I waited a long time to try because I didn’t know how to start. My goal with this website and blog is to give others the encouragement and the basics to go and give it a try.
Check back often. I will be adding info and tips as fast as I can find the time to do so.