Don Allphin

Gracie Clegg, of Manila, Utah, holds a 31- inch burbot.

It’s time once again for the annual Burbot Bash, held on Flaming Gorge Reservoir. If you’ve been tempted to participate before but haven’t done so, this might very well be the year to grab a few friends and give it a try.

The reasons are pretty simple: There is good, safe ice in the bays of much of the Wyoming side of the sprawling reservoir, burbot numbers are very strong, and up to $20,000 in cash and prizes will be paid out in all sorts of categories, many of which are based on luck, (drawings, largest and smallest fish, tagged fish and youth awards) not necessarily due to any great, burbot-catching skills.

The dates are Jan. 24-26, and online entry forms, rules and other pertinent information can be found at www.bubotbash.com.

Plus, this is a team event so at least two and up to four of you can get together and make a weekend of it trying to put a dent in the burbot population and doing your part to create a better lake trout, kokanee, rainbow and smallmouth bass fishery in the process.

The hard truth is that burbot are most likely here to stay in Flaming Gorge but fishery biologists believe that events such as the Burbot Bash help remove thousands of adult burbot which reduce the numbers of spawning females, and therefore prevents potentially billions (not an exaggeration) of eggs from being laid.

One adult female burbot can produce over one million eggs, so just a thousand of them could produce up to a billion — with a “b” — eggs.

Burbot have made their way to the dam, and officials worry that as they continue to spread, other species in the massive reservoir might be threatened. It is difficult to predict the future of the overall fishery, but there are a lot of burbot in Flaming Gorge and their population will not be negatively affected by a derby or two held at the time of year that burbot are most active.

Here are a few tips on how to target and catch burbot through the ice or even from a boat (near the dam or in other areas of open water).

  1. Burbot like rocky points, mouths of coves and rocky flats. Look for areas that have cliffs, chunk rock, and ledges from 20 to 40 feet deep. Flaming Gorge has literally hundreds of such areas in every part of the reservoir.
  2. Burbot as most active at night. The first few hours after dark and the last few hours before dawn are by far the most productive.
  3. Drill plenty of holes in the areas you plan to fish and move from hole to hole every 15 to 20 minutes until you locate a school of burbot.
  4. Use lures that glow in the dark (read the package) like tubes, grubs and jigging spoons from 1/4- to 1/2-ounce sizes, and be sure to recharge the “glow” (with a black light or flashlight) frequently.
  5. Tip your presentations with small pieces of sucker, chub, or carp meat.
  6. Once you hook a fish, reel in, re-bait and get down to the bottom quickly before the school moves. You may be able to catch dozens of fish from the same school in just a few minutes.
  7. Keep your lures and baits within a few inches of the bottom. Burbot are bottom feeders and will rarely be found suspended in the water column.

If you plan to fish this year’s Burbot Bash, dress for the cold and take the necessary safety equipment including life jackets, throw ropes, ice picks, layers of clothing, water proof boots, ice cleats and a portable heater.

Without a doubt, the 2020 Burbot Bash promises a great time for the estimated 700-plus anglers in one of the most beautiful areas in the west. Come for the scenery and stay for some of the best burbot fishing in the world. Good Luck! And, as always, for more information or to fish with me, email me at don@donallphin.com.

Don Allphin can be reached at don@donallphin.com.