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Catch a burbot, win a prize

MANILA — Two state wildlife agencies, five chambers of commerce and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) have teamed up to fight a finned invader in Flaming Gorge Reservoir.

Ashley Bonser holds two monster burbot at Flaming Gorge

Ashley Bonser caught these monster burbot at Flaming Gorge in 2011.

Photo by Ryan Mosley

Their goal is to put some severe fishing pressure on burbot, an illegally introduced species that is negatively affecting other sport fish in the reservoir.

To reach their goal, the wildlife agencies, the USFS and the Bridger Valley, Flaming Gorge, Green River, Rock Springs and Vernal chambers of commerce are holding another Burbot Bash.

Prizes

The Third Annual Burbot Bash Fishing Derby will be held Feb. 1–3.

Before the event, biologists with the two wildlife agencies — the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) — will tag 25 burbot with external anchor tags.

These tags, which are attached near the burbot's dorsal fin, look like a small spaghetti noodle.

If you register for the tournament and then catch a burbot with one of these tags, you could win $10,000, $2,500 or $1,000.

Internal tags placed in burbot during the past two years are still worth $100. To know if you caught a burbot with an internal tag, have it scanned for a tag at the check-in sites that will be open daily during the tournament.

Prizes will also be offered for the most burbot caught, the biggest burbot caught, and the biggest and smallest burbot caught by youth anglers.

Register now

You can save $5 and register for the event early at the Daggett County website. You can also register from 3–5 p.m. the day the event begins, Feb. 1, at Buckboard Marina. The marina is south of Green River, Wyoming along Flaming Gorge.

After 5 p.m. on Feb. 1, the derby is on with teams of up to four anglers competing for up to $20,000 in cash and prizes.

The derby will conclude with a prize-award ceremony featuring a burbot fish fry on Feb. 3 at the Manila Rodeo Grounds in Manila, Utah. Adam Eakle from KSL television's "Outdoors with Adam Eakle" show will host the closing event.

For more information about the Burbot Bash and to register early, visit the Daggett County website.

Winter — a great time to catch burbot

Burbot are best caught at night and in the winter, so ice fishing is a very productive way to catch them. If ice conditions are poor, burbot can also be caught easily from a boat.

Ryan Mosley, the UDWR's lead aquatic biologist at Flaming Gorge, says 4,022 burbot were caught in 2011 when the bash ran for one week.

In 2012, a total of 1,372 burbot were caught during a three-day event.

"That's an impressive amount of fish removed in a short period of time," Mosley says.

State fisheries biologists hope to learn more about the extent of the burbot problem in Flaming Gorge based on data from tag returns. Tag returns over the past two years have allowed biologists to document substantial movement of burbot in the reservoir, with some fish traveling a couple of miles only a week after being tagged.

There is no catch limit on burbot in Flaming Gorge, and state fisheries managers from both Wyoming and Utah encourage anglers to harvest as many burbot as possible.

(In fact, in Utah, anglers may not release burbot. All burbot caught must be kept and killed.)

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