Burbot (Lota Lota) is the only freshwater member of the Cod family (Gadidae) sometimes being referred to as “poor man’s lobster.”
A Fish Of Many Names
Burbot is also known as Bubbot, Mariah, Eelpout, Cusk, Freshwater Cod, Freshwater Ling, Freshwater Cusk, Coney-fish, the Lawyer and Lingcod. This is truly a fish of many names!
The name Burbot comes from the Latin word barba, meaning beard, this would be in reference to its single whisker that they have on their chin.
What Do They Look Like?
Burbot are a funny looking creature with a cross between a catfish and an eel. With a serpent like body, a single whisker on its chin, and the ability to curl up like a football when you pull them out of the water, they really are something else to catch! Burbots have a flattened head and a wide mouth with both the upper and lower jaws having lots of small teeth. The caudal (tail) fin is rounded, the pectoral fins have a fan shape and they have two soft dorsal fins with the first being low and short and the second one being much longer.
Burbot live in large cold rivers, lakes and reservoirs. Mostly preferring freshwater habitats, they are also able to thrive in brackish environments during spawning periods. As a bottom feeder, their feeding grounds include sand, silt, gravel or mud. Adults will construct an extensive burrow for shelter during the day and being a crepuscular hunter they are primarily active during the twilight period.
Where Do They Live?
Being circumpolar burbot are found above 40 degrees North Latitude these guys can be found from France across Europe and Asia and over to the Bering Strait. In North America they range from the Seward Peninsula in Alaska over to New Brunswick and along the Atlantic coast. Once common in England, burbot is possibly now extinct over there with the last recorded capture being September 1969.
What Do Burbot Eat?
Younger Burbot will feed on aquatic insects. Adult Burbot are primarily piscivores meaning they are carnivorous, eating other fish such as Perch, Suckers, Trout, Stickleback, Grayling, Whitefish and young Northern Pike. They have been known to eat frogs, snakes and birds and with such a wide diet their tendency to bite lures makes them an easier target to catch. We were using deli shrimp and worms on the end of our lures and had great success catching 6 of these guys all being over 20 inches.
Ice Fishing For Burbot
When ice fishing for Burbot try using a tip-up or dead stick and just letting the bait hang just above the bottom of where you are fishing. These fish are normally nocturnal feeders but with the shelter of the ice and low sun penetration, this allows anglers to catch these fish during the day.
Did You Know:
* Burbot are the only fresh water fish in North America that spawns beneath the ice.
* Most often this spawning takes place during a full moon.
* Burbot create a noise in their swim bladder during spawning to attract a mate.
* Female burbot can carry more than 1 million eggs.
* They are able to swallow fish nearly their own size. There is a report of a 38 cm burbot whose stomach contained a 30 cm walleye. Now that is just crazy!
* As they grown larger they tend to eat bigger fish not more fish.
* The average length of a burbot is 30-75 cm with a maximum length of 90 cm.
* The average weight of a burbot is 1-7 kg with a maximum weight of 9 kg.
* Adding lots of butter to the fillets can make them taste a lot like lobster, hence the name “poor mans lobster.”
* Many anglers have discovered burbot is excellent for fish and chips!
Fish and chips here we come!
I hope this article provides you with some information to make you a bit more successful at catching a burbot next time you are out on the ice or open water. Remember you can’t judge a book by its cover, even though burbot are kind of ugly and funny looking, they put up a great fight and sure are fun to catch and not to mention great to eat! Until next week, tight lines everyone!