The body of the lingcod is elongate, tapering and only slightly compressed. The head is elongate and conical, the mouth is large with numerous large teeth. Lingcod are generally dark brown with lots of spots and blotches on the upper part of the body, but come in a variety of colours ranging from blue green to red brown.
They occur between Point San Carlos, Baja California, and Kodiak Island, Alaska. They are not abundant south of Point Conception except in a few localities. They live at or near the bottom, generally in close association with rocky areas and kelp beds, especially where there is a strong tidal movement. They occur most abundantly at depths ranging to about 110 metres (350 feet) feet, but will often go into deeper water and have been caught as deep as 820 metres (2,700 feet) feet off southern California.
Young lingcod feed primarily upon shrimp and other crustaceans until they are big enough to eat fish. Once started on fishes, it seems that any kind coming within reach is fair game. Male and female lingcod first mature when they are three years of age and about 58 cm in total length. Nearly all are mature at age four when they are nearly 66 cm long. Spawning usually takes place from December through March. The eggs are large (0.5 cm in diameter) and adhesive, sticking in large masses to rocky crevasses, generally on subtidal reefs. The male lingcod guards the eggs after fertilization until they hatch. A female 76 cm long may lay approximately 60,000 eggs; whereas, a 114 cm female may lay more than 500,000 in a single season.
The lingcods teeth, as well as the gillrakers, are extremely sharp and can cause serious injury to the fingers of careless hunters. NEVER put your fingers into the mouth or gill chamber of a lingcod. As well as being taken by sport and commercial fishermen, scuba divers have been known to take a substantial number of this fish.