Bottom fishing for Ling with plastics Ling that went for a plastic mullet

This Ling devoured the plastic mullet.


Bottom fishing for Ling can provide non stop fishing action the entire day. Ling are a plentiful fish and when properly iced after catching are one of the best tasting fish you can pull off the wreck. On a party boat the mates supply you with a container of clams as bait. This has always been the go to bait for sought after fish that congregate at ocean wrecks. Fish like Ling, Cod and Sea Bass are all caught on clams. But a little fish called a Bergall also likes clams. These pesky little bait stealers will pick your hooks dry before a Ling or Cod can even get near your bait. This can cause a frustrating situation. There is only one thing you can say in predicament like this, "PLASTICS".


I don't want to talk to much about Bergall because this article is about ling. But they can be such an annoying fish at times that I thought I would anyway. Bergall is a saltwater fish found in the western Atlantic. I have never eaten a Bergall but some find it to be very tasty and considered a delicacy. They grow to be about 4 to 10 inches long and are found in the same structures as ling, black bass and cod. In my book they are either used for bait for other fish or thrown back.

Why fish for Ling

Ling is not considered a game fish. The ling does not go on reel screaming runs, perform acrobatic feats on top of the water and is seldom found stuffed and mounted in a fishing lodge. I guess that's why not much is researched and written about this fish. When hooked the ling is dead lifted off the wreck with little resistance. But the meat of the ling is very tasty and succulent and probable has not been discovered as a delicacy by many folks. When is the last time you went to the supermarket fish department and found ling for sale next to the tuna steaks and cod fillets. Almost never. So when we fish for ling it is for the meat and being in the great outdoors.

A little about Ling

Ling fish is a member or the Cod family found in the Atlantic ocean. It is a bottom dweller that finds its food around ocean structures such as rocks and sunken ships. Ling can be found both inshore and offshore. They feed on clams, small crabs and anything else they find on the ocean floor. Their meat is excellent either baked, deep fried, poached or dried and smoked. They are considered to be close to Cod in flavor and when poached resemble the flavor of lobster.

This was the average size of the Ling caught on this trip

A nice size Ling for the frying pan.

The Ling mostly went for the bottom dropper hook

Most of your Ling will be caught on the bottom drop line hook.


Plastics as artificial bait is very broad term. You can bet that for every small creature residing in the ocean and fresh water waterways there has been a plastic made to resemble it. Out of all the plastics to choose from the 4 inch mullet works the best. They come in variety of colors but the pearl and chartreuse seem to work the best.

I have never considered using plastics as my main bait for ling. I have always done very well with clams. The only time I ever use plastics when on bottom fishing trips are as a top teaser when jigging for cod or Pollock. But something had to be done. The Bergalls were stealing the clam bait before a ling could get near it. On a whim my fishing buddy packed two tubs of 4 inch plastic mullet into his tackle bag. We both gave up on the clam approach and attached a plastic mullet to the bottom dropper and high hook. The ling went nuts over the plastics and the Bergall could not pick the plastics of the hooks. Almost every drop produced a nice size ling. It didn't matter how you fished the plastic mullet. Just drop it down and wait for a bite. The ling even attacked the half eaten tailless plastic nubs left on the hook. We soon filled two 5 gallon pails with ling. On your next ling trip don't forget the "plastics".

Plastic mullet sure paid off on this trip

We always have the mates fillet the fish for us unless we intend on smoking our catch. This trip produced over 15 pounds of fresh ling fillets.

Next column

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