The Indiana State record for burbot has been broken not once, but twice in the past two weeks.
The first time happened on Dec. 30 when avid angler Scott Skafar caught a burbot that weighed 10.2 pounds on Lake Michigan. This catch broke the previous state record that had been in place since 1990 by 2.5 pounds. Later that day Skafar reeled in a second burbot that was also larger than the 1990 state record by nearly two pounds.
Skafar, of Valparaiso, decided to look up the state record because he knew that to catch a burbot that large was uncommon.
"When first catching them I didn’t think much of it," Skafar told Fox News Digital. "I checked the record using my mobile phone to look it up. Seeing it was only 7 pounds, 11 ounces, I knew these were much larger.”
Skafar with two record-breaking burbot.
With an appearance best described as a cross between a catfish and an eel, the burbot has an elongated body, laterally compressed with a flattened head. The mouth is wide, with both upper and lower jaws containing many small teeth. Also known as eelpout, lawyer, ling, poor man’s lobster, or freshwater cod, they can be identified by a single chin barbel or whisker, similar to catfish whiskers. As the only freshwater fish in the cod family, burbot is a unique species native to Lake Michigan. They live under the ice for portions of the year and require frigid temperatures to breed.
Skafar told Fox News Digital that he believed someone else would break Indiana's burbot fishing record again "very soon," which proved true less than two weeks later.
On Tuesday, Jan. 10, Phillip Duracz broke Skafar’s record, when he reeled in a burbot weighing 11.4 pounds, also from Lake Michigan, the DNR reported.
Duracz with his record-breaking fish.
Duracz also holds the lake whitefish record at 9.34 pounds, which he set in 2021.
Burbots are typically bottom dwellers that stay in the lake’s coldest and deepest waters. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (Indiana DNR) said that cold water temperatures from November to April draw the burbot closer to shore to feed. Their diet includes round goby, sculpin, yellow perch, and other fish species.
”The recent warm weather coupled with light winds has provided excellent opportunities for anglers to fish Lake Michigan at a time they are usually unable to safely access the lake,” Ben Dickinson, a fisheries research biologist said.
Burbot is also excellent tablefare, click here for cleaning tips and click here to learn a thing or two about catching these freshwater cod.
Images via Indiana DNR Facebook.