Burbot are freshwater members of the cod family of fish. Although classified as a rough fish in some areas, burbot are prized for their firm, white flesh.
Burbot have mottled skin that can include combinations of black, brown, gray, olive-green and bright yellow. They are known for their slimy skin coating and tiny scales.
They have elongated dorsal and anal fins that extend to a rounded tail fin. A single soft barb on their lower jaw is an identifying feature.
Burbot are found in fresh waters throughout North America, Europe, and Asia, usually occurring above 40 degrees north latitude.
Burbot prefer large clear rivers and lakes with deep, cold-water habitats. Burbot are common in the Great Lakes region and other deep cold lakes.
Lake and large river dwelling burbot tend to be larger than individuals that inhabit small waterways. Adults range from around 2 pounds to monsters of 20 pounds or more.
Burbot are top level predators, consuming a variety of prey. They readily consume forage fish and larger species such as lake trout. When available, they also feed on crayfish and other invertebrates.
During late fall and winter, burbot move into shallow areas with gravel bottoms to spawn. They are known to spawn under ice. During spawning, burbot of both sexes may congregate in large spawning formations.
Burbot are caught by anglers, especially at night. They readily take live or cut baits fished along the bottom.
They are also taken on a variety of lures. Jigs and small metal spoons are popular in most fisheries. Burbot anglers often rig luminous (glow) soft plastic curly tail grubs or tube bodies onto jig heads or other rigs.
Ice fishing is one of the most popular methods for catching burbot, especially large fish. Enthusiasts sometimes drill numerous holes, moving around until fish are located.
In some areas, burbot are harvested by a number of alternative fishing methods including set lines, spearing, trapping, and others.
Burbot are also known by a variety of local nicknames, including burb, ling, lingcod, freshwater cusk, freshwater cod, eelpout, loche, maria, methy, lawyer, and others.