Flaming Gorge Reservoir - Burbot Bash
Two state wildlife agencies and three chambers of commerce have teamed up to fight a finned invader in Flaming Gorge Reservoir.
Their goal is to put some severe fishing pressure on burbot. To reach that goal, they've enhanced an annual event called the Burbot Bash.
On Jan. 22, the Burbot Bash will become a formal fishing derby offering up to $10,000 in cash prizes. The event will also change from an event held on a weekend to an event that includes a full week of fishing.
A burbot with a tag on it could be worth up to $5,000. The longest burbot caught is worth $1,500.
This year's event will also include a youth derby with its own set of prizes.
Helping biologists gather data
The two wildlife agencies—the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD)—have been marking burbot with small tags. Their goal is to tag 500 fish throughout Flaming Gorge Reservoir in northeastern Utah and southwestern Wyoming. Because the 91-mile-long reservoir crosses into both states, the biologists have too, working together as a team to catch burbot using nets and other methods.
When biologists catch a burbot, they record where the fish was caught and its length and weight. The fish is then tagged and released where it was caught. Hopefully, some of these fish will be caught by anglers during the Burbot Bash.
Because each tag is unique, the biologists can track any changes in individual fish that are recaptured during the Burbot Bash or later during the biologists' own surveys. Recapture data supplies biologists with vital information about the structure of the burbot population, movements of the fish, how long burbot in the reservoir are living and how much each fish has grown since it was first caught.
If this aspect of the Burbot Bash continues, the agencies will tag more fish, which will allow them to acquire more years of additional data.
Removing burbot is the ultimate goal
The ultimate goal of the agencies, however, is to remove as many burbot as possible. To help reach that goal, three chambers of commerce—Flaming Gorge, Green River and Rock Springs—have joined with the wildlife agencies to enhance this year's Burbot Bash.
The chambers have raised funds and are providing prizes, lodging discounts and other incentives to help attract anglers to the event.
The derby kicks off at the Buckboard Marina on Jan. 22 with an array of demonstrations and discussions about how to catch burbot and what to do with them after you've caught them. This part of the event is free. If you want to participate in the quest for prizes, you'll have to register and pay a fee.
After the Jan. 22 opener, anglers have a week to catch burbot and bring them to a checking station. (You need to follow all of the fishing regulations, so make sure you're familiar with the fishing regulations for the state in which you're fishing and have the proper licenses and permits.)
The final check will take place at the Manila Rodeo Grounds on Jan. 29. After the final check in, the prizes will be awarded.
Fishing regulations, and more information
Fishing regulations, guidebooks and licenses can be found and bought at many stores and shops in the Flaming Gorge area.
Regulations and licenses are also available at wildlife.utah.gov and gf.state.wy.us.