Aquatic predators targeted during winter fishing contests
WGFD Photo, Lucy Wold
A Flaming Gorge burbot swallows a Brown trout whole during spring gill netting operations on the Gorge.

Anglers near and far will have three opportunities to participate in ice fishing contests this year in the Green River Region:  two on Flaming Gorge Reservoir and one on Fontenelle Reservoir.  Each reservoir will host a contest targeting burbot that were illegally introduced and have become well established.  The third contest is targeting the valued yet abundant population of small lake trout in Flaming Gorge Reservoir.  All three contests have a similar goal:  draw attention to the abundance of the species being targeted and encourage anglers to harvest more.

The 2020 Burbot Bash is being held January 24-26 on Flaming Gorge Reservoir.  The Flaming Gorge Chamber of Commerce is hosting the Bash with help from partners and sponsors.  Anglers compete for most burbot, biggest and smallest burbot, and the opportunity to catch tagged burbot for the grand prize.  For more information and to register online, please check out their website at or their Facebook page at 

If you plan to participate in the Burbot Bash, don’t forget to register for the Buckboard “Pup”ulation Control Contest on Flaming Gorge Reservoir.  The Buckboard “Pup”ulation Control Contest runs from November 1, 2019 through March 31, 2020.  Buckboard Marina at Flaming Gorge LLC is hosting this contest.  The contest features 100 tagged lake trout (all less than 25 inches), as well as prizes for best adult and youth photo with a small lake trout.  For detailed information on registration (free), rules and prizes, check out Buckboard Marana at Flaming Gorge’s website at

The 2020 La Barge Ding the Ling, hosted by the La Barge Activities Committee, is being held February 7-9 on Fontenelle Reservoir.  Anglers compete for most burbot, biggest and smallest burbot, and a chance at catching two burbot with insured tags.  One tag is worth $5,000 and the other $10,000 if turned in by a registered contestant during the contest.  For more information, check out their Facebook page at 

Flaming Gorge and Fontenelle reservoirs are popular ice fishing destinations.  Most anglers target rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and burbot at both reservoirs and lake trout at Flaming Gorge.  With high abundances of burbot in both reservoirs and large numbers of small lake trout in Flaming Gorge, anglers will have ample opportunity for success.  Anglers will also enjoy liberal limits on lake trout in Flaming Gorge; 12 per day and 24 in possession, only one lake trout over 28 inches in possession.  Since 2008, anglers have enjoyed unlimited harvest on burbot throughout the Green River Drainage.  As always, check your fishing regulations for species specific rules. 

Burbot in the Green River Basin behave like an invasive species.  Area fisheries biologists are concerned with burbot as they compete with sport fish for food and are a voracious predator. Currently, the best option for reducing burbot numbers is angler harvest.  Anglers are encouraged to take advantage of improving ice conditions and do their part for the sport fisheries by removing as many burbot as possible from local waters.  Every burbot removed is a savings in sport fish. The upcoming ice fishing derbies are a great opportunity for anglers to have a fun weekend ice fishing, possibly win some money, and reduce the impact Burbot are having on the sport fish in Flaming Gorge and Fontenelle reservoirs. 

Unlike Burbot, lake trout in Flaming Gorge Reservoir are a valued sportfish, but the numbers of small lake trout, those less than 25 inches, have been slowly increasing for decades.  “Flaming Gorge Reservoir is experiencing its highest densities of small lake trout, those less than 28 inches in total length, on record,” Game and Fish Green River Fisheries Biologist John Walrath said. “So far, we know that lake trout are currently growing at half the rate as they were in the 80s and early 90s.  For those lake trout under 28 inches, this means there are twice the number of mouths to feed.  The addition of mouths can put strain on prey populations.  The main prey for lake trout in the Gorge is kokanee salmon, a prized sport fish for many anglers.  In order to reduce impacts on other sport fisheries in Flaming Gorge Reservoir, we are encouraging anglers to harvest small lake trout, especially those less than 25 inches.” 

Anglers can learn more about why biologists are concerned about the abundance of small lake trout and find tips on how to catch Burbot and small lake trout on the Flaming Gorge page of the Department’s Green River webpage at 
Robert Keith 307-875-3223

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