UTAH (ABC4) — Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources urged fishers to catch and kill invasive burbot in Flaming Gorge. The fish pose a threat to the ecosystem and diversity of the popular reservoir and river.
The invasive burbot was placed illegally in the Flaming Gorge Reservoir by fishers and found back in 2006. Now 16 years later, DWR is still working to cut down its population with help from our fishers, but it’s an uphill battle.
“There’s just never going to be an end to getting rid of them, however, we can make really good population dents on them,” said Tonya Kieffer-Selby, DWR resource conservation outreach manager.
Burbots thrive in cold water, making them popular for ice fishing.
Not only do burbots compete with other fish for food, but they also eat other fish like smallmouth bass, trout species and kokanee salmon, which cuts into the diversity of one of Utah’s most popular fisheries.
DWR said they’ve seen just about everything in the reservoir in a burbot’s stomach.
“It is insane how big they get and sometimes they’re so big because when you open them up with their stomach contents because they have a giant size fish in their bellies,” Kieffer-Selby said.
DWR hopes these burbots end up in your stomach instead.
“They’re delicious if you haven’t ever eaten them. They’re amazing, but they’re very detrimental to our fisheries,” Kieffer-Selby said.
Burbots are bottom feeders. DWR can’t collect them all in a net because they stay so low in the water. That’s why they rely on angulars to catch them, especially with the risk of burbots traveling to the Green River and Colorado River where we see more endangered species.
“They have found burbots in the Green River. Anglers have caught them but we’re trying to reduce that ability,” Kieffer-Selby said.
If you catch a burbot, you have to kill it, whether that means eating it or even using it to fertilize your lawn. And if you plan to catch some, DWR said to check the thickness of the ice when you are ice fishing. Another pro-tip from them: Burbots like glowing bait.