With its slimy skin and tendency to wrap itself around your arm, the burbot is considered by many anglers to be the "ish" of fish. But in fact this beautiful cousin to the saltwater cod, commonly known as eelpout, is a remarkable predator that is excellent to eat.
General description:The burbot looks like a cross between an eel and a catfish. It has a long body with smooth skin and a single whisker under its chin.
Length: Up to 30 inches, but average length is about 16 inches.
Weight: Average about 2 pounds but can reach up to 18 pounds.
Color: Brownish back and sides with black and dark brown splotches.
This is the first fish to spawn each year and the only one to spawn under the ice. Spawning is in late January. Spawning burbots move from deep water to the shallows and congregate in a living glob. A dozen to more than 100 burbots form a quivering sphere of tangled bodies and release eggs and milt into the stirred-up water.
Burbot eat anything, including minnows, small game fish, and insects.
Many predatory fish will eat burbot.
Habitat and range
Deep, clean, cold lakes of northern Minnesota, including Lake Superior.
Population and management
There are plenty of burbot in northern Minnesota as long as those lakes stay clean. Anglers usually don't see the fish except in winter, when burbot are caught through the ice. In summer burbot are in the deepest waters, far from most anglers' lures and baits.
Each year in early February there is an annual International Eelpout Festival on Leech Lake. There is a black-tie dinner on the lake, ice bowling, and fishing tournament. The anglers who catches the biggest burbot wins a 7-foot-tall trophy.