If you like deep sea fishing (or I should say, fishing the sea deep) you will love the deep water lingcod experience. It would be a mistake to think of a deep water lingcod trip as an ordinary outing for lingcod, like in the Puget Sound. Catching a 20 pound lingcod is common, with some anglers catching 30+ pounders daily. Come prepared with at least a two-speed reel….. or better yet an electric. Otherwise checking your bait becomes a real chore.
Destination – Westport
Thanks to our ‘good friends’ at WDFW we get to fish deep water lingcod for a good part of 2022 in Marine Area 2. This means you can make a good trip by combining other fishing, like coho salmon in late summer. Or you can make a trip out of just the lingcod season if you combine it with deep water rockfish.
The Westport lingcod destination is about 35 miles offshore along the edges of Grays Canyon. Here you will find big lingcod. I’m talking big ocean lingcod that will make fish tacos for an army division. These things are huge!
The charts below will help you zero in on a proven location on the south side of the canyon where charter boats and private anglers both fish. But you can find other good holes anywhere around the canyon.
Don’t be afraid to explore. Be sure to pay attention to your chart and look for areas that are 400″-500″ that drop off a slope into the canyon. Drift across the area and then off the slope, marking where you catch fish. Also, pay close attention to the bottom markings on your chart. You will want to see gravel, sand, shale, structure, but avoid mud.
Lingcod Setup – Sand Dab
When targeting deep water lingcod you can use knife jigs, copper jigs, swim baits, or herring. But one of the most effective baits to target deep water lingcod is a live sand dab (check your regulations when using live bait). Lingcod are predators and love the movement and vibrations of prey in distress. It’s like pulling a string from a cat, they can’t help but to bite, it’s instinctual.
You can catch sand dabs near shore just as you head west out of Westport on the north or south sides where you will find plenty of sandy beaches.
A friend of mine turned me on to a great way to hook up a sand dabs so they are ready to go when you need to bait and re-bait (as long as you have a live well (or even a bucket).
- Make a handful of pre-made setups ahead of time.
- Use tuna cord or fishing line and you want to make sort of a harness with a hooks.
- Leave a leader out the top so you can add a swivel that can be hooked on as you bait and re-bate.
- The top hook should go in the mouth of the sand dab and out the side located where the flesh is sturdy.
- The trailing hook should go through the surface flesh back near the tail. Be sure you only go through the outer skin. If you damage the sand dabs backbone it may not be able to swim.
- Hook up 3 or 4 of these and put the live fish in your live well. This will allow you to bait and re-bait quickly by simply snapping on a new live bait.
- You can also use ‘silly string‘ to help keep the bait on the hooks. Just as long as you keep the bait alive and able to swim so it can attract a big sea dragon.
Lingcod Setups – Swimbaits
- One of my favorite. The Gibbs Big Eye Jig 24 Oz. The 24oz (1.5 lb) jig head lets you get down deep. And this jig has a ton of action from the two tails plus upper fin wigglers.
- One of my favorite. The paddle-tail type swim bait. Not only does a large paddle tail accommodate a large jig head, but it also has great action that a lingcod cannot refuse.
- Some folks also really like the sand dab swim bait.
Lingcod Setups – Metals
- Hex bar or copper bar to target large lincod
- On very bright and shiny days light can penetrate down into deep water. If that is the case you can use bright metal jigs that will throw light around down deep (note: there is rarely any significant light beyond about 650 feet)
Hook ’em Deep!