Burbot (eelpout) Fishing
Lake of the Woods in Northern Minnesota offers an abundance of different species of fish to catch. Anglers have plenty of choices as to what kind of fish they wish to target. Although sometimes anglers may catch a species or two they were not planning for. The burbot or eelpout as some call them are either a loved or hated fish. Some consider them a poor man’s lobster while some will cut their line to avoid having to touch the fish.
The burbot though their scientific name, Lota Lota, is French for “codfish.” The burbot is the only species of cod that lives entirely in fresh water. Its appearance has been described as “eel-like” or like “a cross between an eel and a cod.” It sports one barbel on its chin as well as a barbel-like, tubular extension near each nostril. Burbot inhabit deep, cold lakes in Minnesota but are rarely spotted in the summer months due to their deep water habits. Burbots spawn while there is still ice covering lakes. A burbot can grow up to 30 inches long and on average weigh 2 pounds but can weigh up to 18 pounds. Burbot can live as long as 15-20 years and are known to wrap their tail around an anglers arm when being unhooked. Burbot are opportunistic hunters and are considered the garbage gut of the lake will essentially eat anything they can fit in their mouth.
Typically late afternoon into the late hours are the best times to target burbot. Look for deeper areas of Lake of the Woods next to sharp breaks that run to flats and fish the deeper edges first. River mouths can be productive as well but changing ice conditions is a major safety issue in these areas. Your best lures will be rattle type baits with glow colors tipped with a minnow. Set your lure anywhere on bottom to 2-3 feet above bottom. Burbot are full of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D and are actually very tasty if cooked properly. Many cut the back straps of the burbot into cubes then boil them in 7-up or salt water and then dip them into butter for a tasty treat. If you want a great night out on the ice and a great meal after the burbot should be your choice. Don’t knock it until you try it!
Here is the link of the eelpout we caught last week!