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  • Scientific Name: Lota lota
  • Found in Illinois: Lake Michigan only
  • State Average:
  • State Record: 11lbs/12.5 oz (2020)
  • Best Lures: jigs, cut bait, worms, live minnows

Angling Tips:

In Illinois, burbot are most often caught incidentally during cold-weather months in Illinois harbors on Lake Michigan while fishing (open water or ice fishing) for yellow perch or other sportfish species. Cut bait or worms on a jig fished under a bobber and just above the bottom have the potential to catch burbot, which move to shallower waters in the winter. Burbot also tend to be more active at night.

Habitat: Burbot occur throughout the Great Lakes as well inland lakes across the northern United States and Canada. Burbot are the only freshwater member of the cod family and one of only two freshwater fish species (along with northern pike) with a circumpolar distribution. They seek shelter in large interstitial spaces like crevices between rocks.

Feeding and Habits: Burbot are opportunistic predators that typically feed on fish, fish eggs, and crayfish in the Great Lakes.

Reproduction: Burbot spawn during winter, often assembling in large aggregations. They congregate to form writhing spawning masses of multiple male and female burbot simultaneously releasing sperm and eggs into the water column. They are also known to make a wide variety of vocalizations at spawning time. Because they are broadcast spawners, they do not build nests or defend their young. Eggs settle in the substrate where they incubate for 1-3 months before hatching, depending on temperature.