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Catnip for Lingcod

By Brian Thurston
Publisher Fishing Tackle Retailer magazine

The depth sounder showed exactly what we were in search of. Down went the jigs to the bottom and literally one pull later it was fish on!

Wanna out fish all your buddies? For the past several years there has been one go to bait for me when targeting lingcod. That  would be the Saltwater Sassy Shad in white pearl/black back in sizes 6” or 9”.

In fact, it has been so good that I have tried to keep it a secret for years but guess I must be getting old and soft because I am now willing to share this amazing bait with anyone willing to try.

Lingcod can be pretty finicky, especially if there is a lot of natural bait around. However, the Sassy Shad has produced amazing results in waters all over the Pacific Northwest to Alaska. It isn’t just lingcod that go crazy for this natural swimming herring lookalike.

Yelloweye, black sea bass, kelp greenling, it doesn’t matter, they all really tear this bait up.

I mean that seriously. Most Pacific NW bottom fish tend to have large sharp teeth and they hit the Sassy Shad hard. On our most recent trip we went through more than 20 baits, so don’t be shy when you place an order.

A deck full of tasty lings and Yelloweye.

In my quest to find the perfect lingcod offering I have managed to try just about everything known to man and spent a small fortune in my quest. A recent trip to Northern British Columbia resulted in me shelling out $22 for ONE lingcod jig that was supposed to be the ultimate lure. Two quick jigs of my rod and I hooked bottom and kissed that $22 good bye!

We did manage to land 12 lingcod and two Yelloweye. 11 of those fish bit the Sassy Shad!

Here is the technique we have used with great success. Lingcod are an opportunistic fish. They lay on the sides of underwater ledges and wait for a target to swim by.

First, any rocky areas with drop offs could hold lingcod but the real secret is to find some underwater pinnacles. You’ll need charts and GPS for that but the payoff is that many fishermen never target these areas of opportunity. If you can find something that is 100ft on all sides and the pinnacle comes up to say 20ft in depth you should be in business.

Lingcod take a long time to mature so fishing in areas where there is not a lot of pressure can really be very productive.

Next consideration is tides. If the tide is running hard it can be very difficult to fish in place and keep your bait where you want it. Choose just before the slack if possible and then use a 6 to 8 ounce lead jig head to get that bait swimming straight down.

The actual fishing method is a common one. It is called jigging. Simply free spool your line to the bottom and quickly reel up about 1-3 ft. From this point give the rod a sharp vertical pull every 15 seconds or so and be ready for a real tug of war. Because bottom depth varies you should free spool again every couple of minutes to make sure you are keep close contact with the bottom.

I’m happy to say the freezer is full of these tasty fish so I am putting the shads away for this season. Already researching new pinnacles for next year! Good luck!

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