Winter Burbot on L.Roosevelt

by Craig Dowdy, December 29, 2016
When the weather gets cold, and I mean cold, and the launch is iced over,
and the eyelets on your pole are frozen, it’s prime time for fishing

Burbot are a type of fresh water ling cod that have a catfish type head and serpent like body. Burbot have a single barb under the chin similar to a catfish. We have caught burbot from as early as mid-November through late February, depending on water temperatures and water levels. They need frigid water to spawn and are considered broadcast spawners. The burbot in Lake Roosevelt run from a pound to over 10lbs. The colder the water, the better the fishing. During winter months they are found in water ranging from 20ft to over 60ft.

I hear from a lot from fisherman who say “man these things are ugly and
slimy! I’m not keeping it!” and they throw them back. Don’t be fooled by
their appearance. Burbot are called poor man’s lobster for a reason; they
taste a lot like lobster. The meat is flaky white, like a walleye, and
very mild. You might not want to keep a burbot under three pounds as they end up being all head and tail and not much meat.

When it comes to cleaning them, it helps to cut the slim by running them
under warm water first. There are multiple ways to fillet a burbot but I
generally clean them just like a walleye or other spiny ray. Using a filet board with a clamp on the end to hold the slimy tail makes the task much easier.

Burbot on Lake Roosevelt are, in my opinion, an underutilized fishery. It
seems most people in the winter months fish for rainbow or walleye and skip over the burbot. At this time, the daily catch limit on Lake Roosevelt is 5 fish, any size, per person. Generally the gear you have for walleye fishing will work just fine for burbot. There is no need to go out and spend a lot of money to catch them. When the burbot are biting they can be taken on jigs, blade baits, drop shots, and cut bait; generally the same baits you catch walleye on.

After years of fishing this species, we have become fairly successful at
figuring out when the bite is on. If you’re fishing an area and you’re
catching walleye; then you know the burbot are not in yet. When the burbot come in, they run the walleye off and take over the area to spawn. The burbot tend to ball up in an area as small as the hood of a truck. That makes catching them fairly easy, once they are located. If you are off the school by just a little bit, your buddy fishing next to you could be in them and you could be getting nothing.

Don’t let winter with its cold and snowy conditions keep you off the
water. You could be missing out on a fun and exciting fishery that you may not have even known was there. Good luck and get out there and catch some of those slimy snake fish. You won’t be disappointed!

YJ Guide Service will be hosting a Walleye, Burbot and Rainbow Tournament
on Lake Roosevelt on February 4th. It will run from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.,
launching at Ft Spokane and weighing in at the Two Rivers Pavilion, where
prizes will be awarded and contestants can enjoy a chili and cornbread
feed. Please bring your own drinks. There will be a short meeting at 6:30 at the launch. The entry fee is $20 per person with a $5 big fish pot per individual species. The big fish pot will be awarded in cash for the biggest walleye, burbot and rainbow. The entry to the tournament must be prepaid by January 11th 2017 in order to participate! Send your entry fee along with your contact information, number of participants, and number of boats to Craig Dowdy 205 Maxwell, Davenport, Washington 99122. Big fish pot entry can be paid the day of the tournament. Sign in will be done at the Ft Spokane boat launch. If you have any questions call 509-999-0717.


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