GREEN RIVER - Fisheries biologists with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Utah Division of Wildlife Resources are tagging fish in Flaming Gorge Reservoir to learn more about the burbot (ling) population. This is the third year the illegally introduced fish species have been tagged in preparation for the Burbot Bash.
Anglers will have a chance to catch tagged fish and win over $100,000 in prizes and a two year lease on a new truck at the annual Burbot Bash. The Burbot Bash is a fishing tournament for burbot and is sponsored by Dagget County, Utah. The events began the weekend of Nov. 15- 17 and will end the weekend is Jan. 24-26, 2014.
Game and Fish Green River Fisheries Biologist Craig Amadio says 50 burbot were tagged in the first week of November. Only the 50 tagged burbot were released. All other burbot netted were killed and their stomach contents were examined.
“We don’t typically get too involved with fishing contests except for the permitting process,” Amadio said. “However, tagging these fish should help generate angler interest and will allow us to collect some useful information about the burbot population. We also felt that assisting Dagget County with this contest would benefit the fishery by promoting the burbot fishery and increasing angler harvest of burbot. During the 2013 Burbot Bash over 4,000 burbot were removed from the Flaming Gorge fishery.”
Biologists from Wyoming and Utah netted burbot in Flaming Gorge Reservoir and implanted the fish with Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags. The PIT tags were inserted into the abdomen of the fish and can only be identified with specialized electronic readers. Amadio and other fish biologists hope to learn more about biology of burbot in Flaming Gorge based on tag return data during the contest. Information from the tagging program will allow biologists to gather a variety of information about the species including movement patterns, habitat use, growth rates and abundance.
“One goal of the tagging project is to collect some biological data to help with future management of the reservoir,” Amadio said. “At a minimum, tagged burbot caught during the contest will give us information on their movement in the reservoir because we know the exact locations where every fish was tagged. This may be particularly useful if tagged fish are caught in spawning areas, helping us to identify important spawning sites and habitat.”
There is a “catch” to the burbot contest: Burbot Bash anglers will not know if they have caught a tagged fish. Amadio says the internal tags are not visible and have been implanted in all sizes of fish. Therefore, all burbot caught will need to be checked in and scanned for tags at official inspection sites that will be open daily throughout the derby. For more information, or to register for the Burbot Bash, visit www.burbotbash.com
For more information on burbot management in Flaming Gorge Reservoir contact a fisheries biologist at the Green River Regional Office of the Game and Fish at (800) 843-8096).