Burbot

By Bill and Lori Jollymore's In Species
The burbot (Lota lota) is the only gadiform (cod-like) fish inhabiting freshwaters. It is also known as mariah, the lawyer, and (misleadingly) eelpout. It is closely related to the marine common ling and the cusk It is the only member of the genus Lota.

The burbot is edible. In Finland its roe is sold as caviar. There is an annual spearfishing tournament held near Roblin, Manitoba, Canada. One of the highlights of the tournament is the fish-fry where the day's catch is served up deep-fried. When cooked, burbot meat tastes very similar to American lobster, leading to the burbot's nickname of "poor man's lobster."

In the 1920s, Minnesota druggist Rowell and his father, a commercial fisherman on lake of the woods, were using the burbot as feed for the foxes on Joe’s blue-fox farm. They discovered that the burbot contained something that improved the quality of the foxes’ furs; this was confirmed by the fur buyers who commented that these furs were superior to other furs they were seeing. Ted Rowell felt it was something in the burbot, so he extracted some oil and sent it away to be assayed. The result of the assay was that the liver of the burbot has 3 to 4 times the potency in vitamin D, and 4 to 10 times in vitamin A, than “good grades” of cod-liver oil. The vitamin content varies in Burbot from lake to lake, where their diet may have some variation. Additionally, the burbot liver makes up approximately 10% of the fish's total body weight, and its liver is six times the size of those of freshwater fish of comparable size. Ted also found in his research that the oil is lower in viscosity, and more rapidly digested and assimilated than most other fish liver oils. Ted went on to found theBurbot liver products company which later became Rowell laboratories inc, of baudette Minnesota, and is today a subsidiary of Solvay Pharmaceuticals of Brussels, Belgium.

The IGFA recognizes the world record burbot as caught in Canada by Sean Konrad on March 27, 2010. The fish weighed 25 pounds 2 ounces (11.4 kg). The biggest burbot caught on Lac Des Roches weighed 19 pounds : it was caught by Marcel Bointerie in 2003.

The burbot is a tenacious predator , which will sometimes attack other fish that are almost the same size and as such can be a nuisance fish in waters where it is not native. Recent discoveries of burbot in the Green River at Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Utah have concerned wildlife biologists who fear that the burbot could decimate the sport fish population in what is recognized as one of the world's top Brown Trout fisheries, because it often feeds on the eggs of other fish in the lake like Sockeye salmon. The Utah Division of Fish and Game has instituted a "No Release" "Catch and Kill" regulation for the burbot in Utah waterways.
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