Lingcod Nesting

photo: male lingcod defending nest (photo by J. King)An interesting history trait of lingcod is their reproductive behaviour. In the fall, males begin to set up territories on rocky substrate. Spawning occurs in December through March, with the majority occurring from mid-January to mid-February. The females move into a spawning area at night to deposit their eggs (up to 490 000 for a 120 cm female). The eggs are deposited in crevices or under rocks, and become a firm, solid, cohesive mass. The male lingcod remains with the egg masses (also called nests) and actively guards them from predation. In one instance, a male lingcod was observed to use its mouth to pick up a sea star that was feeding on eggs. The lingcod carried the predator 2 m away from the nest site before releasing it. Male lingcod are known to be very aggressive when guarding a nest, and biting or chasing of divers, along with bodily protection of the nest is common. Nests will not survive predation if a male is removed from a nest. For this reason, winter closures for lingcod fishing have been put in place in some areas to protect nest guarding males. The males will guard the nest until the eggs hatch (about 5-11 weeks later), and often remain associated with a nest site after the nest disappears.