Burbot - (Lota lota)
Length:15 to 22 inches
Weight:1 to 3 pounds
Coloring:mottled olive-green to shades of brown on back; cream-colored
Common Names:lawyer, American burbot, ling, eelpout, loche, freshwater
Found in Lakes:Michigan, Huron, Ontario, Erie and Superior (but uncommon
These elongated, cylindrical, freshwater codfish inhabit most waters
of Alaska, Canada and northern United States as well as corresponding
latitudes of Eurasia. Despite the burbot's homely form, its meat is palatable
and nutritious. A delicacy in Scandinavia, the burbot's liver contains
oil said to rival that of the saltwater cod.
In the U.S., burbots -- commonly called "lawyers" in the Great
Lakes region -- have long been overlooked as a food fish. Early Great
Lakes fishermen derided them as trash fish. In the middle of the 20th
century, the lakes' burbot populations declined under the onslaught of
the sea lamprey. Today, however, burbot are returning to the lakes in
Burbot spawn under the midwinter ice, usually in one to four feet of water,
though sometimes deeper. By midsummer, they move out to the cool depths
of the lake, where they roam the open waters with lake trout, lake whitefish
and other deepwater fish.
Many knowledgeable fishermen savor burbot. When boiled and buttered, the
sweet flavor of burbot has earned it the title of "poor man's lobster."
Though they continue to have an undeserved reputation as "trash fish,"
the commercial harvest of burbot from Green Bay and northern Lake Michigan
increased nearly fivefold during the early 1980s to a total of nearly
100,000 pounds annually.
copyright 2001 University
of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute