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Big Bad Burbot

 

The big bad burbot are back. Start looking for them toward the end of February, and into the first week or two of March. You’ll find them in the shallows going through their spawning season in sometimes only a couple feet of water. I’ve seen nearly a dozen of them at a single time while looking down an ice fishing hole. And they are accommodating. Get a jig and minnow in front of them and it’s almost a sure thing that a hard strike will follow. It really does not get any less complicated.

Big Burbot spawn end of February to mid March

Cool looking and a willingness to bite make burbot a lot of fun to catch!

Burbot fishing is extraordinary, and definitely underrated. When I’m into burbot, it can be fish after fish, for as long as I’m willing to drop a hook. During the spawning season burbot fishing can be great all day long, but if you’re a next level kind of guy or gal, plan to stay late. Into the night in fact. Burbot are notoriously nocturnal and when the sun goes down, the action picks way up. I’ve had nights where I could not count to ten before I had a fish on.

Sometimes tricky to pick up, burbot are a lot of fun to catch!

Sometimes tricky to pick up, burbot are a lot of fun to catch!

If there is one thing that characterizes the typical burbot, it’s their affinity to eat fish. They are minnow eaters to the ninth degree, and given the opportunity, a fish meal is rarely refused. There are a couple of tricks that you can use to attract them, should they not be hanging out immediately below your ice fishing hole.

Burbot fishing Lac St Anne Alberta with jig and minnow bait

A jig tipped with a minnow will undo most every burbot

In the daytime, the key to grabbing a burbot’s attention is to use an effective attractant, or as I like to call them: attention getters. In the world of burbot, attention getters come in a couple forms. The first is jigging a whopping big spoon. The spoon creates one heck of a lot of flash and dazzle, which will capture the attention of burbot from quite a distance. They will come in for a look but rarely will they flat our smack the spoon. This is a two part process. Part one is the flashing with the finishing blow being a heavy jig and minnow. They come in to the flash of the spoon, then see and smell the real deal (the minnow on the jig) and strike. It’s a super effective strategy.

Lac St Anne Alberta Burbot fishing

Fish on!

The real deal is to wait them out until dusk and then dark. When night comes, burbot come in shallow and are super aggressive. I put that same minnow I recommended earlier onto a heavy glow jig. Carry a pen light or something similar with you and ‘charge up’ your jig so its glowing nice and bright, then drop it down. Believe me, the glow jig does the trick. It catches fish like stink, especially at night when they have something to key in on.

Night fishing Burbot Lac St Anne Alberta

Fish until dark and the burbot will reward you

I’ve never stayed super late into the night using glow jigs, but have stayed up to a couple hours into the dark catching burbot non-stop. You also want to be prepared for the occasional walleye as they also get going during those late night hours.


It is worth setting out a tip up with a herring or anchovy suspended near bottom. Burbot will bite it, but so will walleye and pike, not to mention the odd perch, thereby multiplying your fishing success. The tip up will often tell you who’s biting before your even grab your line. If the tip up goes off and line goes ripping off the spool, it’s very likely a pike. If it gets hit hard and then no line is pulled off you’ve likely hooked a burbot. What about a walleye? They will hit, move a little but not in a hurry. They’ve all got their own biting style.


If there’s one bit of advice I can give when chasing burbot, it’s to put away the steel leader and just tie the line (my favorite being braid in 10 to 20 lb test) directly to the jig. It seems that burbot often times become leader shy. I’m still guilty of using steel leaders, especially where pike are numerous, but if I see burbot rejecting my hook, the first thing I do is remove the leader.

Jigging shallow over spawning grounds Lac St Anne Alberta

Jigging in shallow over spawning grounds is a great place to be late fall, through March

A couple years back I looked down the hole, only to see a half dozen burbot swirling about 8 feet below the ice surface. I lowered my jig into the mass and immediately had a hit but rather than set the hook I just applied light tension and watched the burbot shake itself silly until it got close to the hole where it spat the hook out. I then dropped the jig back down and it was hit hard again, often by the same fish, and this would go on repeatedly.

Big Burbot Lac St Anne Alberta

They get pretty big!

Now that’s burbot fishing for you. Big fish that like to eat fish, and are more than happy to provide some great fishing action.


Previous Fishing Articles

(1) Small stream BT fishing

(2) Fly fishing beyond Trout: getting started

(3) In The Walleye Zone

(4) Zoo Trout

(5) Fly Selection for Beginners

(6) Fly Fisher's Christmas

(7) New Waters

(8) Big Bad Burbot

(9) Looking Back

(10) Out of Africa

(11) Finding Success on Crowded Trout Streams

(12) Mountain Peaks, Fast Streams, Fall Colours And Rocky Mountain Whitefish

(13) The Browns of Autumn

(14) Fly-Fishing Pike Through The Seasons

(15) Walleye Town

(16) River Fun - One Bite At A Time

(17) Fly Fishing Larger Rivers

(18) Going With The Flow

(19) Becoming A Better Fly Fisherman

(20) Swinging The Fences

(21) A View From The Aerie

(22) Dixieland Delight

(23) Atlantic Salmon - The Fish of 1000 Casts

(24) Do It Yourself Pink Salmon

(25) Montana's Cool Missouri

(26) Pretty Is As Pretty Does

(27) Toothy Critters

(28) Hard Water Lakers at Cold Lake

(29) Top Ten Flies

(30) Northern Exposure

(31) Home Water Lessons

(32) Chicken Of The Sea

(33) Sealing the Deal – How to Ensure You Land More Fish

(34) Deep In The Heart Of Texas

(35) Keep It Up!

(36) River Fishing for Fall Walleye

(37) After the Flood - A look at Southern Alberta rivers and streams one year after the flood

(38) Reindeer Lake - A Diversity of Opportunity

(39) Hawg Holes

(40) Saltwater Salmon

(41) Early Season Dry Fly Fishing

(42) Down a Lazy River –
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(43) The Fly Fishing Season Ahead

(44) IN SEARCH OF SPECKLED FOOTBALLS

(45) FISHING CANADA'S PRAIRIE CITIES

(46) Bright Fish from the Land of Silver

(47) Canada's "Other" Salmon

(48) Fall Walleye

(49) Wet Flies

(50) Versatility the Key to Success

(51) Grayling of the Boreal

(52) Teaching Kids To Fly Fish

(53) Size Matters

(54) Fly Fishing Small Streams

(55) Chasing Winter Whites One Lake At A Time

(56) Manitoba's Fishing Jewel

(57) The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas

(58) The Point Of It All

(59) Fishing With Friends-Big Weather Seizing The Day

(60) Fall Fly Fishing

(61) Personal Pontoon Boats 101

(62) Big River, Big Fish

(63) Bottom Bonanza

(64) Fishing Small Flies

(65) So Many Choices, So Little Time

(66) Four Seasons of the Bow

(67) Favourite Lakes - Some Like it Hot

(68) GEARING UP FOR SMALL STREAM TROUT

(69) Trout Hunting - New Zealand-style

(70) Don’t Leave Home Without Them –
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(71) Edge Walleye

(72) FLY FISHING STRATEGIES FOR HIGH WATER

(73) Smallmouth Bass – An Oft Overlooked Challenge

(74) Four Corners – Four Waters

(75) Chasing Pothole Trout

(76) Springtime Stoneflies

(77) The Torrents of Spring

(78) Drift Boat Fly Fishing

(79) Bust Them With Bait

(80) Cure the Winter Blues with a Good Book

(81) Hot Strategies for the Cold Months

(82) Cutthroat: The Angler's Trout

(83) Terrestrials

(84) Fly In For Fishing Fun

(85) Rocky Mountain High

(86) Reading the clues

(87) Where the Trout Are
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(88) K.I.S.S. and Tell Fly-fishin

(89) Fly Fishing 101

(90) To Catch a Big Halibut, or Ling Cod

(91) The Bountiful Bones of Ascension Bay

(92) Grayling in the Eye of the Beholder

(93) Fly Fishing for South Fork Clearwater Steelhead

(94) Manitoba's Red River - North America's Catfish Capital

(95) Eliminating the Spook Factor

(96) Trust Your Electronics

(97) The Most Important Hatch of the Year

(98) Early Season Nymph Fishing for Trout

(99) Finding Success for Ice Trout

(100) Walleye can be Humbling

(101) The Secret to Landing the Big One Finally Revealed

(102) Winter Flyfishing

(103) North Saskatchewan River - An Underutilized Gem

(104) Hot Fall Pike Action

(105) Tips and Tricks to Save the Summer Slow Down

(106) Reading Trout Stream Waters

(107) Frequently Asked Questions

(108) Streamer Fishing for Larger Trout

(109) The Lure of Big Walleye at Last Ice

(110) Deep Water Perch

(111) Post Spawn Brookies

(112) A Fisher's Life

(113) The River's Last Stand

(114) The Big Ones Come out at Night

(115) Coho on the Coast

(116) Chasing and Catching Halibut

(117) Summer in the Mountains

(118) Peak Walleye Season

(119) Slow and Steady Wins the Race

(120) Last Ice Rainbows

(121) The Burbot Event

(122) Tackle Matching

(123) Ice Fishing Strategy #2 - Going Light

(124) Ice Fishing Strategy #1 - Location

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(126) The Shallow Water Hunt is On

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(129) Adventure at Davin Lake Lodge, Northern Saskatchewan

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(133) Good Fishing at Last Ice

(134) Maximize the Odds - Use Multiple Presentations

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(142) Flyfishing and Leadcore Lines

(143) Embrace the Spirit of Adventure

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(147) An Ice Fishing Unsung Hero – The Setline

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