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Ling (aka Burbot) Ice Fishing


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#1 RobertR

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 06:01 PM

Well it's been a long week of Christmas vacation with some ice fishing in between. My co-worker and I have been Ling fishing at night through the ice and been doing quite well using large jigs with sucker meat. This is the time of year the ling start feeding heavy before they spawn in the up coming month. They are gorging themselves on crayfish and sow bugs. The ones we caught are good sized but not large one. The biggest is around 30 inches long and about 4 to 5 pounds. Not very good pictures but here they are. I had never caught any of them until this winter. They sure do taste good but they have a very wierd skin.
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#2 Woody

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 06:12 PM

Looks like a good catch Robert! I wonder how many beer it took to catch all them fish eh! :lol:
Looks wierd but very tasty works for me. Thanks for sharing and glad you had a good time!
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#3 Rowdy Yates

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 08:02 PM

Burbot are a fish well hated here and in some waters down south as well. They have an agressive nature and compete very well against other species and eat alot of the other game fish. I have caught a few over the years and they can live outside of the water for hours. Pretty boney too. Fun to catch and good fighters because of the wide body and long dorsal fine combined with long anal fine that connects with the tail fine.

They remind me of the exotic import snake head fish that comes from Indonesia that has been released in some U.S. waters around the Potomac River. The U.S. fish and wildlife have been trying to kill them off but can't do it. Pretty soon we'll be having tornament fishing on these too.

Edited by Rowdy Yates, 30 December 2007 - 08:08 PM.

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#4 McBruce

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 09:22 AM

ahhh robert the memories you caused......

My Grandfather homesteaded on banks of the Yellowstone in eastern Montana... every chrstmas vacation we would go back to the ranch for chrstmas and help run the set lines. checked them twice a day for fish. Mostly ling and once in awhile a nice walleye.

I remember spending hours skinning those things, cutting them up and doing up freezer bags of them. Then on New Years it was a big fish fry with all the family with what we didnt freeze.


:) I'll have to see if I can dig up any of the old photos
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#5 RobertR

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 09:38 AM

Rowdy, I agree that these fish could be a problem in eating other species out. Our fish and game has a 2 ling limit and are upping it in the coming year and only one can be over 28 inches I believe. They could have a 5 ling limit and never touch the population. These are in the cod fish family and I wonder how big these fresh water ones get. The state record is 17 pounds and 39 inches long.
Bruce the best way I like to prepare and eat them is steamed and diped in butter. I think it's better than deep frying or pan frying.
Here is one of the jigs we used. It's 3 1/2 inches long and not sure on the hook size but believe it's a 1/0 hook.

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#6 Leo

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Posted 08 January 2008 - 04:33 PM

When I lived in Canada those (burbot sci name: Lota Lota) were often called Dogfish. They look a lot like Bowfin (grinnel, mudfish, sci name: Amia Calva). Totally different fish but very similar in appearance.

See:

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Bowfin aren't real good to eat. They are particularly stinky fish, and after you've handled one you really don't want to eat it. Trust me, on this. Supposedly some Cajuns can make them palatable but it takes a little effort, and some serious spices. I've heard freshness and eating it while it's still hot is crucial. For sure though, I've handled enough of them not to want to try a bite. The initial whiff of a live bowfin is enough to turn me off. I'm not a picky eater. I couldn't get my size if I was. But I don't think I could eat that.

I suspect mistaking them for bowfin is why Burbot/Dogfish weren't pursued all that aggressively in the part of Canada I lived. Oddly, these same folks thought "sheepshead" aka Freshwater Drum were just dandy. I know if you keep a drum practically anywhere on the Tennessee river the locals think you are nuts. Truthfully, I've cooked them and they were just fine. They are a course white meat fish that is somewhat slimy. Boiled and dipped in melted butter they are like "poormans lobster". Heck, many Europeans think Americans are absolutely crazy for considering Carp trash fish. To each his own. Some folks in Alabama actually eat Gar and like it! Although my one personally experience attempting this, led me to decide, cleaning them is more work than it is worth. I couldn't get anything out of the one I tried to clean I'd want to attempt to consume. We'll leave the description of the effort at that.

Personally, I've never tried Burbot. I believe you, that you can cook it up to be pretty tasty. If they fight anything like bowfin, which I've caught quite a few of, I'm sure you had a blast. Bowfin are really fun to fight, they jump, they run, they dive for cover, they absolutely PUNISH artificial lures (understatement), you can't ask for a fish to be more spunky. Because of their incredible sportiness, I've specifically targeted bowfin on several fishing adventures. Catch and release, sometimes you can catch the same one multiple times in the same day! They really are lots of fun, worth the effort, even if you're not going to eat them.

In short, if Burbot are anything like the similar looking Bowfin and they are good to eat to boot. I'm jealous. :)
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