GREEN RIVER- Anyone who fishes for burbot in southwest Wyoming can’t deny the excitement they feel when they land one of those huge, slimy, eel-like, invasive burbot.
They’re invasive because someone or some group of people illegally introduced the fish into area waters at least 12 years or so ago and it has been a fisheries management challenge for Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) biologists ever since.
Although there is no limit on burbot the Game and Fish reminds anglers to dispose properly of all burbot they catch.
Piles of dead burbot have shown up recently in a couple of odd locations. Like, the parking lot at the Firehole boat ramp and the borrow ditch along the access into the Buckboard boat ramp. Although we really appreciate everyone’s effort to catch and remove burbot from Flaming Gorge Reservoir and other waters in the Green River drainage, we remind anglers that discarding unwanted burbot in this way constitutes littering and they will be cited and fined according to Wyoming littering statutes.” – Green River Fisheries Biologist John Walrath.
Burbot are very active in the winter. So, it follows that winter is a time of rich harvest on burbot populations due to the large number of anglers fishing through the ice. As fall gives way to winter and anglers start catching numerous burbot, it raises the question of what to do with so many fish.
“The first and tastiest option is to fillet the burbot; they don’t call them ‘poor man’s lobster’ for nothing,” said Walrath.
“If you don’t want to eat them, and you have a friend or neighbor who will, take them the burbot. For those really large burbot be aware that they contain higher levels of mercury. You can find detailed information on fish consumption rates at the Game and Fish website. If those methods don’t work for you, remove the internal organs of the burbot and sink the fish in the water from which it was caught, dispose of it in your trash at home, or take them to an approved landfill,” Walrath explained.
Anglers travel to the region from all over the state and out-of-state to fish specifically for burbot. Burbot derbies are becoming increasingly popular, and some local fishing guides cater to burbot anglers.
“We are excited that anglers are willing to take long trips to have great times fishing for burbot in the Gorge,” Walrath said. “We work to ensure that all anglers have the opportunity to come out and enjoy our fisheries, but no one enjoys fishing next to a pile of dead fish or seeing dead fish along boat ramps; it is unpleasant and unethical. As fisheries biologists, it is our job to maintain a high standard when managing your fisheries. However, we all, anglers and fisheries managers alike, have to work towards keeping our fishing experiences positive and that they are not tainted by piles of decomposing burbot along boat ramps, barrow pits and shorelines.”
For more information on how and where to catch burbot please call the Green River Game and Fish Office at 307-875-3223.