Burbot at Flaming Gorge, Utah.


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Utah Fishing Guide

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Burbot at Flaming Gorge

Burbot Burbot (Lota lota) are an eel-shaped fish that have recently turned up in Flaming Gorge in catchable numbers. They are also known as ling or lingcod, freshwater cod, lawyer (in Great Lakes area), eelpout, and loche. You will find them in most waters of Alaska, Canada and northern United States as well as corresponding latitudes of Eurasia where they occupy clear, cold rivers and lakes.

They spawn under late-winter ice in about 2 to 4 feet of water forming a large writhing ball of about a dozen fish. Eggs are very small and a single fish can lay more than a million eggs.

The small fish feed on insects and other invertebrates until about age 5 when they begin feeding on other fish. Several rows of inward facing teeth make them tenacious carnivores.

They are a relatively long-lived and slow-growing fish. It takes 6 or 7 years for them to reach 18 inches and up to 3 pounds. It is not uncommon for Alaskan burbot to reach 20 years of age.

They are not a popular food fish with anglers because of their eel-like shape and ugly appearance. Their scales are almost microscopic adding to the eel appearance and feel. They have a rather large mouth with a "chin whisker" or barbel. The dorsal and anal fins run from the middle of the fish nearly to the tail. The skin is mottled olive-black or brown interspersed with yellow patches.

Once you get past their looks, anglers find burbot have a mild, white flesh and are good to eat. Nearly 100,000 pounds are commercially havested annually in the Green Bay and northern Lake Michigan areas. When boiled and buttered, the sweet flavor of burbot has earned it the title of "poor man's lobster."

In Flaming Gorge, there is no limit on burbot nad any fish caught must be killed. The Utah DWR does not want the fish to spread to any other waters.

— Rich Pulham








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