This is one of my favorite times of year as it symbolizes that we’re getting closer to the salmon runs. The month of May symbolizes chasing Lings on the fly, which is one of my favorite pursuits. I’ve learned my lessons over the course of the years after breaking several 8 wt rods that this is not meant for the salmon sticks but the 2×4’s.
11 and 12 wt Sage RPL and Rplx are my hardware of choice with big salt water reels and stout tippet. When I first started fishing for lings I thought a wire leader was needed but not so. 40 lb maxima is adequate, more concerning is keeping a big ling from holing up once it’s hooked.
The tide was an 8:50 am high and we got on the water by 5:30. The best action was from 7 am until 10. We landed 8 keeper sized fish and kept the last 3 for the dinner table. While I have to admit that I didn’t prepare Ling cod correctly and was disappointed in past years. I did elect to keep one to try this time around and I can attest with many other afficiandos that it is a great fish for the table. The white flaky mild tasting and non fishy meat is wonderful when deep fried, stir fried, poached, and baked.
A favorite Chinese restaurant of ours prepared it 5 ways:
1. Ling Cod Head soup with bitter melon
2. Deep fried with salt and pepper and jalapeño peppers
3. White garlic sauce with snow peas and mushrooms
4. Stir fried with ginger and green onions
5. Black bean sauce with peppers.
Our household eats very well from the bounty of the sea!
I had an invite from Jon T. to go out with him on his 18′ Tiderunner for a shot at some south sound Lings. He has loved fishing for these on conventional gear, but needed some help fly fishing for them, so I agreed to help him out with line suggestions and fly patterns that would increase the learning curve. He agreed to show me a few new places that has held Lings and in exchange I would share with him my line system and my fly patterns of choice. I wasn’t able to meet him until mid morning but he’d already sent a text and said that he picked up his first Ling on the fly and was very excited!
Once we hit the water and motored out to spot some new to me water, we cast our flies without much success. I was worried that the bright sunlight and or the tides were off, and we poked around several locations without a tug. As we rounded another more well known location the 2nd fish hit with fury and Jon’s 9 wt. Xi3 taco’d as the 26.6″ male Ling took a few rotations of his reel before it came to hand. What a wonderful day to be out for a few hours exploring some new waters in MA11.
I couldn’t believe how many Pink salmon smolt were in the breakwater as the newly hatched Puyallup fish were schooled up in swarms and feeding off the plankton. We also noticed that the herring were quite large and feeding hungrily on some sort of spawn that was happening all around the boat with clouds of eggs and or fry that the herring were gorging themselves on. Jon remarked that they’ve seen alot of Krill around the south sound and that it usually means a good salmon season as a result. On the way back we saw a big swarm of bigs working some top water Krill, so hopefully it all means bigger and more plentiful salmon in our near future.
I was really impressed with the Pt. Defiance Boathouse set up, wishing that there was something like that up here in MA10. From the lift, to the dolly, wash down area, and the dry locker storage area, really makes it a set up to be on and off the water and have all your gear ready to go in no time.
Rod: Sage RPLXi
Reel: Galvan Torque 8
Line: Rio 0.030 Shooting Head, with high density head
Flies: “Love me Ling Time” in purple, olive and orange.