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Anglers can cash in on prizes while removing a threat to Flaming Gorge

MANILA — The Burbot Bash is almost here!

“This annual event gets bigger every year,” says Tonya Kieffer, regional conservation outreach manager for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. “It’s the perfect way to have fun and catch fish while helping manage the great fishery at Flaming Gorge Reservoir.”

As the event nears, Ryan Mosley, the UDWR’s lead fisheries biologist at Flaming Gorge, says it’s taken awhile for ice to form on the reservoir this year.

“Be careful,” he says. “With the latest cold front, ice made a rapid move down lake. But, while fishing on some new ice last week, I saw the thickness go from five inches to two inches without any warning.”

Snow on the ice is making it difficult to see the color of the ice, which helps anglers know how thick the ice is. “If they aren’t careful,” he says, “those using ATVs could get into trouble pretty quick.”

Cash and prizes

The Bash will be held Jan. 20, 21, and 22. Then, on Feb 3 – 5, the Buckboard Burbot Classic will be held on the Wyoming side of the reservoir. Both tournaments give anglers a chance to walk away with cash prizes, while helping remove burbot from the reservoir.

During the Bash, Kieffer says cash prizes are awarded for the most burbot caught and the largest burbot caught. Adult anglers and young anglers are split into separate categories.

In addition to prizes for the most and the largest burbot caught, those who catch a tagged burbot will also win prizes.

Burbot have been tagged with external and internal tags. To learn whether the burbot you caught have internal tags in them, bring your burbot to a check station. Personnel with the UDWR or the Wyoming Game & Fish Department will scan the fish and let you know if any of them have a tag.

One of the tagged fish is worth $10,000. Two others are worth $2,500 and $1,000 respectively. The three burbot were randomly selected from among 50 fish that received internal PIT tags prior to the event.

If you don’t catch one of the three fish, but you do catch a burbot with a tag in or on the fish, you’ll be placed in the Burbot Bounty where a $1,000 cash prize will be split among those who caught a tagged fish.

“Tagged fish contests are great, because they level the playing field,” Mosley says. “One angler can catch a single burbot and potentially take home more money than those who check in hundreds.”

You can read the rules, register, find check-in sites and other information for the Burbot Bash at www.burbotbash.com. For the Buckboard Classic, visit www.buckboardmarina.com.

Help Flaming Gorge

In addition to providing a fun way to earn cash and prizes, the Burbot Bash helps the fishery at Flaming Gorge. It also helps the local communities:

Burbot are an invasive species that was illegally introduced into the Green River and Flaming Gorge. Their voracious appetites are a serious concern to managers who are trying to maintain the high quality fishing opportunities that have made Flaming Gorge famous.
Taking burbot during the event helps remove these unwanted fish.

Over the past few years, Kieffer says anglers have removed thousands of burbot during the Burbot Bash and other tournaments. “Biologists believe anglers are the best way to decrease burbot populations,” she says, “especially this time of year.” Kieffer says recent studies show most burbot spawn during the first part of the winter.

“Right now is the perfect time to remove burbot from the reservoir,” she says.
“Harvesting the fish now, and earlier in the winter season too, is great because it removes the females before they have a chance to spawn.”

Fish tagged for the contest provide biologists with valuable information about the way burbot grow and move. From the tagged fish, biologists learn how much individual burbot are growing each year, where they spawn, how many burbot are surviving from year to year, how big the population is and how burbot migrate throughout the reservoir.

Anglers also support local businesses during the Bash and other tournaments. Many restaurants, lodging establishments and supply stores, which are typically closed in the winter, open for the Burbot Bash and the revenue it brings in.