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Fly Tying

Pike n' Burbot

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I lived in Minnesota for 40 years and am quite familiar with both Northern Pike and Burbot (known locally as eelpout). In fact, Leech Lake, MN holds an annual eelpout festival which is one of the largest ice fishing festivals anywhere. Anyway, eelpout are almost never caught except through the ice. I accidentally caught one while walleye fishing in October and the guide told me that that was the first time he ever saw one caught on open water in his lifetime. They are deep runners and always caught within inches of the bottom in cold northern Canadian shield type lakes. Live bait is most commonly used for eelpout and are usually caught "by accident" when fishing for walleye which are the common target in those lakes by sport fishers. In MN, it is illegal to throw them back so you will see them lying frozen on the ice outside the icehouses as most folks don't want them. I have heard from many sources that they make fine table fare but because they are so ugly and have a habit of wrapping themselves like a snake around you when trying to remove the hook, most just shake them off or cut the line and leave them on the ice. Local indigenous folk will oftentimes make the rounds and take the thrown out eelpout. A big windfall for them during the long Minnesota winters. Eelpout are not dogfish, snakehead, bowfin or catfish. They are more closely related to cod. In fact, they are also called a freshwater cod by some and resemble the taste I'm told.

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