Each year, it seems the annual Burbot Bash keeps getting better and better.
In 2021, the challenge was finding safe ice, especially on the Utah side of Flaming Gorge. I was still fishing for kokanee salmon from my boat within just a few short days from the start of the Burbot Bash.
But, even with my own doubts as to safe ice conditions, 1,348 participants took to the ice (mostly on the Wyoming side of the reservoir) making up 419 teams and proved once again that helping put a dent in the burbot population is still something anglers want to do year in and year out.
With over $66,600 dollars in cash and prizes, it is bound to continue to grow and develop as the years continue to pass.
It never ceases to amaze me how motivated angler teams are to brave ice and weather conditions, stake their claims, drill literally hundreds of holes and settle into an incredibly fun, group event. I watched several groups of anglers practicing for the event a week or so before the bash and it was so much fun to see anglers helping anglers, sharing baits, lures, and even ice augers as they prepared for the event. I have never seen quite so much friendship and cooperation among tournament participants. For the most part, everyone wanted to see everyone else succeed.
I watched my good friend Colton Christensen of Lakeshore Tackle quite literally move around the ice making certain others had baits, tackle, augers, and anything else they needed to enjoy their time on the ice.
If you’ve ever watched what happens when a few anglers drill thirty or more holes in the ice and then have six rods each set with bells and lights to notify them when they get a bite … well, all I can say is it is a sight to behold. Guys and gals sliding across the ice trying to set the hook before the fish gets a way. Those of us beyond such things, can’t help but sit back and watch the masters at work.
Even though I knew I would be in warm Lake Havasu participating in a regional bass tournament during this year’s Bash, I could not help wondering how all the teams were doing on the Gorge. And, as it turned out, they were doing very well. Over 4,700 burbot were harvested, second only to the 2013 Burbot Bash when ice conditions were much better.
Ryan Moseley, project manager for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR), shared some fascinating information about this year’s event, taken from interviews with participants.
Two hundred fifty-seven angler interviews were conducted during the event at various check stations. Of the anglers interviewed, 56% were participating in the Burbot Bash for the first time. Mosely reported that in 2020, 41% were new participants so there is no question the Bash continues to attract new anglers.
In addition, the residency of anglers was checked showing 61% of anglers were from Utah while 28% were from Wyoming. There were also folks from Colorado and even Montana. Utahns love their ice fishing and it does not surprise me that more Utah residents participate each year than from other states. It is exciting to see how ice fishing has taken over Utah and has become one of its most popular wintertime sports. Just look at Echo Reservoir next time you pass by.
Without a doubt, the Burbot Bash is here to stay and with records being broken each year, the 2022 version promises more of the same overwhelming enthusiasm. The sponsors of the event, including The Flaming Gorge Chamber of Commerce, Mountain America Credit Union, Ned’s Bait Box, Christensen Lakeshore Tackle, US. Forest Service, Union wireless, among others line up to provide a great experience for any and all participants.
It might be time for you too to plan on participating next year in this incredible and ever-so-popular event. See you there!