Ryan Mosley, Project Leader for the UDWR's Flaming Gorge Project, sent in this report about a fishing excursion to catch the invasive burbot by a means other than a net.
Building on what we observed in last week's sampling, we hooked up with devoted reservoir angler and fishing guide, Ashley Bonser, and spent a few hours fishing with him near Firehole. He's been catching a lot of burbot from his boat, and wanted Robb Keith (WGFD Regional Fisheries Manager) and myself to see what's been going on. The catch rates were astounding. We only fished for 3.5 hrs and caught 130 burbot, which happens to be what a 120 qt cooler can hold! To put it in simple terms, there was a burbot coming in the boat every minute and a half. I tried to remember when I've seen such high catch rates on a predatory fish, and stripers at Lake Powell is the only thing that comes close. Many of these fish were large too, pushing 34-inches and an estimated 6-7 lbs.
The catch recipe was pretty basic. We held position on a rocky point in 10-30 ft of water, and dropped jigs tipped with sucker meat. Most of the time, there was a burbot holding onto the jig once we tightened up the line. If not, some jigging just off the bottom produced a strike. I tried a few different lures, but the go-to bait was a 3/8 oz. jig head rigged with a Yamamoto curly tailed grub (both in glow-n-the-dark) and tipped with a chunk of sucker meat. Ashley also uses attractants like Smelly Jelly in crayfish scent. We started fishing about an hour and a half before dark and caught some burbot, but the action really picked up around 8 p.m.
The nice thing about fishing for burbot from a boat, is you can move around if the fishing is slow (not that we needed too). Lights are a must though and of course a large enough cooler or livewell to hold all the burbot!
For more information on catching burbot on Flaming Gorge, feel free to contact Ashley Bonser at 307-389-8160 or myself at 435-885-3164.
Ashely Bonser with a big burbot.
Ashley Bonser and Robb Keith with a cooler full of burbot.
A tally of the evening catch.