The eelpout fish, otherwise known as the burbot, are long slimy-skinned fish belonging to the cod family that looks almost like a cross between a catfish and an eel. River Bend Resort, located on Lake of the Woods, is no stranger to these odd fish as they are abundant in Minnesota’s northern waters. There is even an annual festival held in honor of pulling burbots from the ice. We want to share five fun facts about these fish and how you can catch one too!
1. Identifying an Eelpout Fish
Eelpouts are reasonably easy to identify. They have long slim bodies that are typically olive-green, muddy-yellow, or brown in color with blotchy spots running along their sides and a white underbelly. Burbots have a single whisker on their chin and a flat, blunt face that resembles a catfish. The one identifier that tends to be a deterrent from anglers grabbing these without gloves is their slimy skin.
2. Why is Burbot Referred to as “Poor Man’s Lobster?”
Though it may not be the prettiest fish in our Minnesota waters, eelpout fish is considerably tasty. Earning itself the nickname, “Poor Man’s Lobster,” burbot has a unique taste and denser meat than typical fish. Rather than flaky fillets, eelpout meat is often cubed and prepared similarly to lobster, and there are quite a few fantastic recipes out there to try for yourself!
3. Where is the Eelpout Capital?
When looking at record catches, many large eelpouts have been caught in waters all over Minnesota. However, Lake of the Woods is where the current world record eelpout was reeled in at a whopping 19 pounds, 11 ounces by a Minnesota resident! Out of the top 7 world record Burbots caught, 5 were pulled from Lake of the Woods: 4 of which are the top weigh-ins scaling in at over 18 pounds. With numbers like these, it’s easy to see how Lake of the Woods could be considered the Eelpout Capital of the World.
4. Tips to Ice Fish for Burbot
Burbot fishing in Minnesota is just about as popular as walleye fishing during the ice seasons. They are bottom-dwelling fish, so dropping your lure all the way to the bottom of the water and tugging upwards to kick up a bit of sediment to draw their attention is likely to land you burbots. The best spots to drill in the ice are where a rocky outcropping in the water sits about 15-20 feet below the surface with a sharp drop-off nearby. These areas are popular hangouts for burbots due to the foraging opportunities they offer and the ability to easily descend deeper into the water during mid-day hours. Be sure to watch your line because these winter-loving fish have a very sensitive bite and will likely swallow your hook if you wait too long to set.
5. When can You Fish For Eelpout?
When it comes to eelpout, they are more commonly caught during the winter months than at any other time of the year. Though it is rare, they have been caught during the summer months; however, they are typically only active in water temperatures under 70 degrees Fahrenheit. These predatory fish are most active during the later hours of t
he day/evening throughout the winter. As the hours of the day pass, they move to areas closer to the surface of the water and are more likely to bite during evening hours.
Discover Burbot Fishing Minnesota with River Bend Resort
This winter, you can try your own hand at reeling in these strange bottom-dwelling fish with us at River Bend Resort. Lake of the Woods is home to an abundance of burbots, and there is still plenty of winter left to book your ice fishing excursion! Fish to your heart’s content and maybe even try out a few recipes to put that poor man’s lobster nickname to the taste test. Discover a unique Minnesota ice fishing experience with River Bend Resort on Lake of the Woods and reel in the famous eelpout along with other favorites like walleye, northern, and maybe even a sturgeon! Your very own ice fishing adventure is only a few clicks away!