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Fishing Burbot in Pennsylvania

Fishing Burbot in Pennsylvania Fishing Burbot in Pennsylvania
By Dave Adams

Bourbon? No, not bourbon – burbot. It is a fish that is caught in the Erie Channel during the fall.

According to Erie County Waterways Conservation Officer John Bowser, burbot won't win any beauty contest, but when consumed fresh, it`s the best tasting fish in Lake Erie. "I would easily choose them over walleye or yellow perch,” Bowser said. Burbot is a type of codfish, which average around 15 to 22 inches in length and are between one and three pounds, They are a mottled olive-green to shades of brown on the back and are cream colored underneath. They inhabit most waters of Alaska, Canada and northern United States as well as corresponding latitudes of Eurasia.

The only Pennsylvania populations occur in Lake Erie and the Allegheny River headwaters. Even though burbot are found in several streams in the Allegheny River watershed, they are rarely abundant at any given location. Unlike Lake Erie, the burbot’s inland populations are listed as threatened.

The burbot is one of only a few Pennsylvania freshwater fishes to spawn in midwinter. They spawn under the ice in the winter, and then they go deep in the summer along with lake trout and other deep-water fish.

Despite its homely form, the meat is palatable and nutritious. Many knowledgeable fishermen savor burbot. When boiled and buttered, the sweet flavor of burbot has earned it the title of "poor man's lobster."

As far as angling value goes, Erie anglers can expect to catch fish up to 10 pounds, with enough action during a cold December morning to break a sweat.

The "traditional" beginning for burbot season is Thanksgiving weekend and continues through December. Tactics are simple. You just sit at either the North or South pier, which border the channel entrance, and still fish. Use a two-hook rig (crappie rig) and large emerald shiner for bait. Some anglers also use two or three minnows per hook.

Burbot prefer darkness when feeding. Try to time your fishing day so that you enter Presque Isle State Park gate as soon as it is opens (five in the morning). This will give you a solid one to one-and-a-half hours of night fishing until the sun begins to pale things out.

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Dan | Posted: March 5, 2016

Dave you were right....., They taste like Lobster, and were fun to catch.....Thanks

Damndan16503 | Posted: January 26, 2015

Very Interesting .....Thank's for the Info. ......