Interested in catching 25 to 50 fish in a couple of hours? Last fall, some anglers did even better than that at Flaming Gorge Reservoir.
Their secret is fishing for burbot from boats in the fall. Ryan Mosley, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources aquatic project leader at Flaming Gorge and the Green River, says anglers are already catching burbot this fall.
“Once the water temperature drops into the low 50s, burbot fishing should pick up even more,” Mosley says. “It will get even better when temperatures drop into the 40s.”
Last year, Adam Eakle with the “Outdoors with Adam Eakle” television show, and Gary Winterton from “Hooked on Utah,” showed just how hard burbot hit before ice-on. With a little help from Flaming Gorge fishing guide Ashley Bonser from Addictive Fishing, both groups caught more than 100 fish in just a couple of hours.
Their shows (available at http://bit.ly/1ga8XAo and http://bit.ly/HtkWdg) demonstrate how to catch burbot and how catching burbot helps the fishery at Flaming Gorge. You’ll also learn how to prepare burbot after catching them.
Where to catch them
Anglers are catching burbot in both Utah and Wyoming right now. But research shows that before the spawn, burbot move north, towards the areas where water flows into the reservoir. Studies in 2012 showed burbot numbers exploded in these areas. Mosley thinks the burbot move north, in November and December, to get to the inflows before the water freezes.
During a burbot-tracking study they conducted last fall and winter, researchers with Utah State University also noticed fish moving north. The researchers tagged and released several burbot in the reservoir’s lower end in November. The researchers found the burbot in the reservoir’s upper end, in the Green River and Black’s Fork arms, in December and January.
As November progresses, Mosley suggests moving north and fishing between Lost Dog and Firehole on the Green River arm of the reservoir, or above Lost Dog on the Black’s Fork arm.
“Try fishing in 20 to 40 feet of water off the rocky main channel points,” Mosley says. “You might be able to intercept burbot as they’re moving north.”
How to catch them
Mosley says the same gear you’d use to catch burbot while fishing through the ice works great from a boat too. “Make sure the gear is stout enough to hook and handle fish that might weigh more than eight pounds,” he says.
Mosley suggests starting with a three-inch, curly-tailed, glow-in-the-dark jig on a white, yellow or glow jighead. Tip the rig with a small chunk of sucker or chub meat, and shine a light on it for glow. Some anglers increase the attractiveness of their rig by coating it with SmellyJelly.
Drop and jig the setup just a few inches off the bottom. Hold still while the fish takes the bait, and then set the hook.
Fishing usually picks up around sunset and holds strong for the first few hours after dark. To stay safe, anglers should get to know their fishing area during the day and set up before dark. Plan on getting to the reservoir in the afternoon, which will give you plenty of daylight to scout the area you’re going to fish.
“Watch the weather,” Mosley says, “and don’t take risks. Wind and storms can come up quickly at the Gorge. Take safety gear for everyone. And be sure they know how to use it.”
Make sure to include some bright lights with your gear. The lights should be bright enough to light up your boat while fishing and to spotlight the bank and boat ramps when returning after dark.
You should also wear layers of warm, waterproof clothes, and bring extra clothes with you. Before you leave on your fishing trip, let someone know exactly where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
Finally, if you’re not comfortable venturing out on your own, consider hiring a seasoned guide who is familiar with the lake and the fishery.
Now is the time to pre-fish for the 2013 – 2014 Burbot Bash. The timeframe for the Bash has been extended this year to get more anglers out during the pre-spawn, pre-ice period.
The Bash runs from Nov. 15, 2013 to Jan. 26, 2014. More than $100,000 in cash and prizes will be available.
On the opening and closing weekends—Nov. 15 – 17 and Jan. 24 – 26—prizes will be given for the most, biggest and smallest burbot caught.
Between those two weekends, a tagged fish contest will be held. One of the tagged fish will be worth $25,000, two will be worth $10,000 each and one will be worth $5,000. At a minimum, tagged fish are worth $200 in cash or an award of equal value.
Image courtesy Utah Division of Wildlife Resources