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- Length:15 to 22 inches
- Weight:1 to 3 pounds
- Coloring:mottled olive-green to shades
of brown on back; cream-colored underneath
- Common Names:lawyer, American burbot,
ling, eelpout, loche, freshwater cod
- Found in Lakes:Michigan, Huron,
Ontario, Erie and Superior (but uncommon in Erie)
- 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 increasing numbers.
- 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
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copyright 1998 University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute
Brook Trout illustration copyright 1998 Gina
Burbot photograph (c)
Shedd Aquarium (e-mail)
Drawing from Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Last updated 05 February 2002 by