This Utah fishing report is all about Burbot: they’re ugly and they’re not wanted in Flaming Gorge, but they’re feeling quite cozy in their new home.
Burbot, a fish angler’s generally consider as a “junkfish” is a freshwater fish related to cod and looks a lot like an eel, with a mouth full of very tenatious teeth.
It is commonly found in streams and lakes of North America above the 40°N latitude. And Burbot were recently illegally introduced into the Green River drainage in Wyoming, which is how they’ve recently made their way into the Gorge.
Although nearly every sport fisherman considered them “trash”, there was a day Burbot were in demand. In the 1920’s, a Minnesota druggist, Theadore H. Rowell and his father Joseph Rowell were using the Burbot to fee the foxes on Joe’s blue fox farm. The Burbot contained some mysterious element that improved the quality of the fox’s furs. Testing proved that Burbot oil is 4 times more potent in vitamin D and as much as 10 times more potent in vitamin A than cod liver oil. And Ted discovered that the oil is more rapidly digested and assimilated than most other fish oils. This led Ted to establishing the Burbot Liver Products Compnay, which later became Roswell Labratories, Inc.
Despite all of that, anglers know Burbot compete with other game fish, feeding on insects and other invertebrates until they are old enough to feed on other fish. Because their diet is the same as sport fish, it’s unfortunate they are now in the Gorge. Most of the Burbot in Flaming Gorge are in the upper end of the lake. The Division of Wildlife Resources is requesting anglers to catch their bag limit of 25 and kill them if they don’t eat them.
Here’s how to catch them. Use spoons and jigs that have some type of glow on them. Don’t be afraid of their appearance if you catch one. Their teeth are sort of like catfish or bass teeth and they won’t bite. But they are slimy.
Surprisingly they are very tasty. Bread and fry them, or boil them lightly for 4 minutes then dip them in butter. You’ll find they taste a lot like lobster.
To clean Burbot, cut the skin behind the head and peel it off with pliers. Then fillet the meat off around the rib cage and down the tail, leaving you with nice boneless fillets.
Take advantage of a bad situation and try fishing for Burbot at Flaming Gorge Reservoir. The fish taste very good and you’ll be helping the lake by fishing out these non native squatters.
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