Fishing Ontario Canada
Burbot (Ling)

Distribution in the local area:

Balfour Lake, Baptiste Lake, Limerick Lake, Mink Lake


Lota, from the old French, la lotte, "codfish"
Other common names include: American Burbot, Cusk, Dogfish, Eelpout, Freshwater Cod, Freshwater Codfish, Freshwater Crusk, Gudgeon, Lawyer, Ling, Lingcod, Loche, Lush (Alaska), Maria, Methy, Mother Eel, Mud Blower, Spineless Catfish, Lake (Swe)


Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata, animals with a spinal chord
Subphylum Vertebrata, animals with a backbone
Superclass Osteichthyes, bony fishes
Class Actinopterygii, ray-finned and spiny rayed fishes
Subclass Neopterygii
Infraclass Teleostei
Superorder Paracanthopterygii
Order Gadiformes, cod and hake
Family Lotidae, cusk fishes
Genus Lota, burbot and eelpout
The North Country's only freshwater representative of the primarily ocean-dwelling Codfish Family.


An ugly, eel-like freshwater cod of deep waters and nightmares


Typically 15"-22" , can reach 46"


Typically 1-3 lbs can weigh over 12 lbs


Back and sides dark olive or brown with dark mottlings; adults may be dark brown or black belly white, cream, or pale yellow fins similar in color to adjacent body parts


Slender, elongated, and cylindrical smooth skinned and slimy, with minute scales dorsal fin divided short first dorsal lobe of 8-16 soft rays long, low, second lobe of 61-81 rays. anal fin of 52-76 fin rays; nearly as long as second dorsal fin pelvic fins of 5-8 rays in the throat area slightly ahead of pectoral fins tail fin rounded, separated from both dorsal and anal fins scales present, but so small as to be nearly invisible, except on large adults


Wide, flattened head small eyes single large barbel on chin barbel-like tube from each nostril


10-15 years


Unlike anything else in North Country waters.

Distinguished by:

Short forward dorsal fin paired with long rearward dorsal fin
long anal fin, nearly equal to the second dorsal fin in length
wide, flat head single chin barbel

Similar Species:

Bowfish Distinquished by single whisker on tip of chin; long, thin anal fin.


Deep, cold waters of lakes and rivers. Prefers to be near the bottom in areas of low light intensity (usually in the deepest water available).
Also inhabits areas with aquatic vegetation, rock piles, submerged logs, and other underwater structures.
Migrates late winter and early spring, after spawning, from lakes to tributary rivers.


A rather reclusive fish, hiding about underwater structure during the daytime and foraging actively at night over the bottom. Predominantly predators, eating small fish, aquatic insects, and even small rodents.
Adults over 20" or so feed almost entirely on other fishes during the summer, when in deeper water, and on invertebrates in the winter.
Consume mainly mayfly nymphs and other insects while young, shifting to a diet of fish and crayfish as adults.
Voracious appetite and indiscriminate eating habits. Stomachs have been found to contain small stones, wood chips, and plastic as well as the more typical fare of crustaceans, fish, and insects.


Despite ugly form, meat is tasty and nutritious. Still regarded as a coarse fish, however, and not widely sought by anglers, though interest in ice fishing for burbot is increasing..
A delicacy in Scandinavia, the liver contains an oil said to rival that of the saltwater cod. Harvested commercially on the Great Lakes.


Spawns in mid winter under the ice, usually in 1'-4' of water, with water temperatures near 35º F. Spawning occurs at night in shallow bays or tributary streams over a sand or gravel bottom and is said to take place in a writhing ball about 2' in diameter made up of 10-12 individuals.
Extremely productive; large females lay up to one million eggs, which drift along the bottom, hatching within 30 days. No care is given to the fry young.
The young grow rapidly for their first four years, feeding mostly at night on a variety of invertebrates. They spend most of this time in lake shallows or stream channels.