Lingcod | Oceana Canada

Canadian Marine Life Encyclopedia


Ophiodon elongatus

Also known as

Blue cod, cultus cod, green cod, leopard cod, bluefish, greenling


Northeast Pacific from the Gulf of Alaska, USA to Baja California, Mexico


Rocky bottoms

Feeding Habits

Aggressive predator

Conservation Status

Not listed


Order Scorpaeniformes (scorpionfishes & flatheads); Family Hexagrammidae (greenlings)


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The scientific name for Lingcod, Ophiodon elongates, comes from the Greek ophis for snake and odons for tooth and the Latin elongates, or elongated, all of which provide a fitting description for this long-bodied, large-mouthed, toothy fish. Although the word “cod” is also in their name, lingcod are not actually cod; they are a member of the greenling family. 

Lingcod live in deep water, but in the fall they head closer to shore to spawn. Males leave for the spawning areas first to establish nests in rock crevices or on ledges in areas with strong currents along rocky reefs. Females arrive at the spawning grounds later, choosing a nest to lay their eggs, which will then be fertilized by the male. The female leaves soon after, while males stay behind to guard and take care of the eggs until they hatch into larvae in the spring. After hatching, the larvae will move to kelp or eelgrass beds, where they grow rapidly, feeding on copepods and other small larval or juvenile fish. As they mature, lingcod will move into rocky habitats and set up a territory where they will spend the majority of their adult lives, with the exception of the spawning season. They live a rather sedentary lifestyle as adults, with males especially staying close to their home reef. Males mature at around two years of age, whereas females mature at around three to five years. The amount of eggs a female can produce depends entirely on her size and age, with older, larger lingcod producing more eggs than smaller females. Adult lingcod are an aggressive ambush predator that feed on anything they can catch, including fish – such as rockfish or salmon – and even other lingcod.