There are some faces only a mother could love. The burbot's is one of them. But despite its off-putting appearance, one fish weighing almost 20 pounds has made a Minnesota man very happy -- after all, he's caught a new state record.
According to the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune, Aaron Guthrie, 35, of Bemidji, Minn., caught this 19.5-pound burbot, also called eelpout, Friday in an icehouse on Lake of the Woods. Guthrie's catch beat the previous record of 19.3 pounds, caught in 2001.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime 'pout,'' Guthrie said. "It's going on the wall. It's a state record. I'm not going to eat it.''
Guthrie said he was fishing for walleye and sauger with his uncle, Rollie Jones of Osseo, Minn., but began targeting burbot once the sun set, adding minnows to their lures. When the big 'pout hit Guthrie's line, he knew instantly what he was dealing with.
"I knew it was a 'pout right away, but I didn't realize how big it was,'' Guthrie said.
The pair landed the fish after a five-minute fight. Guthrie's trophy was later certified by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Lake of the Woods burbot typically weigh about five pounds, and though they are considered freshwater cod, they are often discarded on the ice by fishermen as a junk fish. This is not only illegal, said DNR area fisheries supervisor Phil Talmage, but also a serious lapse in judgment.
"Even though it's illegal, lots of anglers throw them on the ice instead of eating them or putting them back down the hole,'' Talmage said. "It's freshwater cod, with good white, flaky meat.''