The very popular and very effective invasive species removal tool known as the Burbot Bash has been scheduled for Feb. 1-3 at Flaming Gorge Reservoir. Anglers can compete as teams of four and have a chance at $20,000 in cash prizes or catch a tagged burbot and win up to $10,000. It should be noted, as brought to light by Adam Eakle with KSL Outdoors on his television show over the weekend, that Wyoming has reluctantly released a consumption advisory on the burbot on the Wyoming side of the Reservoir. No mercury-level numbers were released yet, but Wyoming Department of Health has said that women of child-bearing age and kids under 15 limit their eating of burbot to fish under 25 inches to four meals a month and should avoid burbot longer than 30 inches. Burbot tested on the Utah side of the reservoir have thus far tested under the health advisory warning.
I'm hoping to get over to the Gorge in the near future for a story on research being done on burbot and to fish, of course.
Photos courtesy of Ryan Mosley.
Here's the release I received on the Burbot Bash.
2013 Burbot Bash Fishing Derby to Benefit Flaming Gorge Fishery
Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, Wyoming/Utah…local Chambers of Commerce and state wildlife agencies have joined forces to fight back against an unwelcome invader in Flaming Gorge. The culprit is an illegally stocked fish known as a burbot or ling, a freshwater cod native to waters east of the continental divide. This invasive species, found in Flaming Gorge, is having some devastating impacts on the sport fishery.
This upcoming winter’s event will be the third annual Burbot Bash Fishing Derby held on Flaming Gorge. Biologists from Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) and Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) will tag burbot before the annual derby which when caught by tournament participants are worth BIG cash prizes. Their hopes are to learn more about burbot in the reservoir, including growth rates, movement, and population status along with promoting further exploitation of this unwanted species. Ryan Mosley from UDWR said, “In 2011, 505 burbot were tagged and 4022 were caught during the week long tournament, six of which had tags. In 2012, 152 burbot were tagged and 1372 were caught during the three day event, three of which had tags. That’s an impressive amount of fish removed in a short period of time!” With the tag recaptures, both agencies have also documented some substantial movement of burbot in the reservoir, with some fish traveling a couple of miles only a week after being tagged.
In response to this threat, the Green River, Rock Springs, Vernal, Bridger Valley and Flaming Gorge Chambers of Commerce have joined to promote the Burbot Bash – a two day fishing derby to be held February 1-3, 2013. These chambers will work in partnership with the WGFD and the UDWR and the event is permitted under a Special Use Permit issued by the US Forest Service, Ashley National Forest.
Burbot are best caught at night and in the winter, so ice fishing is very productive for this problem species. They can also be easily caught from a boat if ice conditions are poor and both angling methods may be utilized for the derby. There is no catch limit on burbot in Flaming Gorge and state fishery managers from both Wyoming and Utah encourage anglers to harvest as many burbot as possible.
You may pre-register starting December 10th online at flaminggorgecountry.com. You can also register Friday, February 1st from 3-5p.m. at Buckboard Marina, located south of Green River, Wyoming along Flaming Gorge. Throughout the next two days, the derby is on! Teams of up to 4 anglers can compete for up to $20,000 in cash and prizes (based on 400 participants).
A unique feature of the Burbot Bash Derby is the opportunity for anglers to catch a tagged burbot and the potential to win a lot of money. For this year’s Bash, twenty-five burbot will be tagged with external Anchor tags. These tags look like a small spaghetti noodle, attached near the dorsal fin, and tag color will be disclosed before the tournament. If a burbot is caught with one of these tags, the tag number will be called in to the insurance company and the fish could be worth $10,000, $2500 or $1,000. Internal tags used during the past two years will also be worth $100. Finally, prizes will be offered for most burbot, biggest burbot, and youth big and small categories.
The catch? Although this year’s burbot will be tagged with external tags, tournament anglers still won’t know if they have caught a tagged fish from 2011 or 2012. Therefore, all burbot caught should be checked in and scanned for tags at the check-in sites that will be open daily during the tournament. State fish biologists hope to learn more about the extent of the burbot problem in Flaming Gorge based on tag return data.
The derby will conclude with a prize award ceremony featuring a burbot fish fry on Sunday, February 3rd at the Manila Rodeo Grounds in Manila, Utah.
For more information about the Burbot Bash and to register early, visit www.flaminggorgecountry.com.