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Brett Prettyman
Brett Prettyman writes about the outdoors, recreation and fishing for The Salt Lake Tribune

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Angler lands $10,000 tagged fish during Burbot Classic Tournament at Flaming Gorge

Burbot fishing contests at Flaming Gorge are turning out to be a winning situation for anglers, and more importantly, for the massive reservoir on the Utah/Wyoming border.

Over the weekend Randy Tummel, an angler from Rock Springs, Wyo., caught a tagged burbot worth $10,000 during the First Annual Burbot Classic sponsored by Buckboard Marina.

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No one was lucky enough to catch the $25,000 tagged burbot during the annual Burbot Bash this winter, but between the two tournaments more than 6,000 of the invasive species were removed from the Gorge. That puts a dent, albeit a small one, in the population of the illegally introducted species that could ultimately lead to crashes of popular sport fish like kokanee salmon, smallmouth bass and lake trout.

Here’s a recap of each tournament from Ryan Mosley, Flaming Gorge Project Leader for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

Burbot Classic

Buckboard Marina held the "1st Annual Burbot Classic" this past weekend. There were several prize categories for both youth and adults including, most weight, big fish, small fish, and of course tagged fish. The grand prize tagged fish was valued at $10,000! They also had a kids ice fishing clinic and free burbot cooking demonstration on Sunday.

A total of 45 burbot were tagged prior to this event by Wyoming Game and Fish and Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. The derby included 300 participants who caught 2,018 burbot in two nights. Of those fish, four burbot had Classic tags and two others had PIT tags from previous events.

One fortunate angler, Randy Tummel from Rock Springs, WY caught tagged fish #15 worth $10K! Randy and his four-man team spent two nights on the ice and only caught a total of 10 burbot. The tagged fish was also the only fish Randy caught on Saturday night. To top it all off, the #15 burbot moved 10-miles in only a week. It just goes to show that experienced burbot anglers will win good money for most or biggest burbot, but all it takes is one fish, and maybe a little luck, to be the big prize money winner. Congrats to Randy and his Team #97!

Burbot Bash

This year's Burbot Bash started on November 15th and closed on January 26th. It included an open water fishing derby on the opening weekend, an ice fishing derby on the closing weekend, and burbot could be scanned for tags in Manila anytime in between.

In the end, the Bash led to the total removal of 4,039 burbot, of which 15 had tags. The closing ice fishing event included 401 participants that caught approximately 2,500 burbot. Of the 15 tags returned during the 2.5 month event, four were tagged specifically for this year's Bash. Unfortunately none of those were a big prize fish. One tag return dated all the way back to November 2010, when it was tagged for the original Burbot Bash. That fish grew ten inches, tripled in weight, and was caught about 10-miles from it's original site of capture. Tagged fish moved anywhere from 0-20.5 miles and 12 of those moved uplake while 3 were stationary. None of the fish showed downlake movement, supporting the theory that many burbot move uplake towards the inflows to spawn.

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