And the prize for Manitoba’s ugliest fish goes to…technically, they’re burbot. But they can also be called mariah, lawyers or coney-fish. Down in Minnesota, they go by the name eelpout. Even if anglers can’t agree on a single name, they all agree that this is one ugly fish. It’s been described as a cross between a catfish and an eel.
Catch ‘em Deep
One of Manitoba’s three most widely distributed fish, burbot like the cold, deep water so they’re a common catch during hardwater season. In open water, you’ll sometimes hook a burbot while jigging deep for lake trout. While fishing for walleye from a pier, don’t be surprised if your pickerel rig starts thumping hard. There’s likely a feisty burbot on the hook. Because of their eel-like tails, they push a lot of water and put up a serious fight.
Keep ‘em and Eat ‘em
Burbot are in dire need of a public relations makeover. Very few people eat them. It’s likely their unorthodox appearance that turns people off. That’s a shame because their thick white flesh, smooth and buttery, is adaptable to almost any cooking technique. They resemble cod and are often called freshwater cod in these parts. They’re also called the poor man’s lobster because a quick boil and a dunk in butter is one of the best-tasting meals you can have.