By Montana Grant

Posted: February 25, 2021

The MT FWP is looking at transplanting 500 or more Burbot into Martinsdale Reservoir. Their intention is to expand the current fishery diversity in the 985-acre lake. You can give input on their website.

Martinsdale Reservoir was first created in 1940. It was designed to supply irrigation needs for the agriculture in the area. Irrigation is still a priority and draws the reservoir down each summer. By August, the boat ramp is high and dry. The 100-foot-deep lake supports around 9000 angler days. There are only primitive campsites and no nearby services in the close by town. Oh, and rattlesnakes!

Burbot are not indigenous to the Upper Musselshell River. They are native to Montana. Currently the lake contains Yellowstone Cutthroats, Rainbows, Brown trout, and suckers. The lake is noted for BIG trout. Huge Browns are common in the Fall. Most anglers troll or bank fish. Rainbow trout are stocked annually for a Put and Take resource.

Mariahs, Fresh water Cod, Ling, Lingcod Cusk, The Lawyer, Coney-fish, Eelpout, are all names for the same fish known as Burbot. These bottom dwellers can live over 15 years and become 20 pounds and more. They require waters that are colder than 70 degrees and frigid in winter, to spawn. A single female can lay 1 million eggs. The eggs are dispersed while in a group of males. Burbot gang up during January and February for this reproduction party. The males then swarm into the eggs as they release milt.

The state plans to transplant adult Burbot from the Newland Creek Reservoir and Lake Sutherlin. This could happen this Spring or Summer. Adding Burbot to the lake would also mean that these fish would end up in the Musselshell River.

Many call Burbot the “Poor Man’s Lobster”. These nocturnal fish are primarily caught at night or under the ice. After the Winter spawn, fishing in May and Early June can be productive. Burbot prey on small fish, insect larva, fish eggs, crayfish, and clams. They love small walleye and perch fry, which are not in this lake.

Non trout fishermen will probably love the addition of Burbot. In Montana, diversity is welcome. Different waters offer different catches. It is nice to enjoy variety when fishing. Just because you prefer one fish does not mean that everyone is expected to follow suit.

Burbot provide an alternative use for windows. Back in the day, their skin was stretched and dried to make an alternative for glass! The fish also is used to feed fur animals. Their meat adds oil and conditions the fur bearers hide.

Burbot are the only Gadiforms found in Montana and are at risk to becoming a threatened species in their native range.

What do you think?

Montana Grant

For more Montana Grant, find him at his native range at www.montanagrantfishing.com.