A 32-Year Record

The Indiana burbot record held since 1990 was broken twice in a matter of two weeks.

A BIG Fish Story

Breaking a 32-year state record by 2.5 pounds, Valparaiso resident Scott Skafar caught a 10.2-pound burbot in Lake Michigan, Dec. 30. Skafar broke the record twice that day after catching a second burbot that broke the 1990 record by nearly 2 pounds.
Sometimes called eelpout, lawyer, or poor man’s lobster, Lake Michigan burbot are the only freshwater fish in the Gadidae, or cod, family. This unique fish has a single chin-barbel or whisker, similar to catfish whiskers and is found on the lake bottom in deep water. Learn more about this state record at bit.ly/3vWCFod.
Get your Indiana fishing license at inhuntfish.com.

 

Indiana DNR
Indiana DNR
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Less than two weeks later, on January 10th, Phillip Duracz broke Skafar's record by catching an 11.4-pound fish, also from Lake Michigan. Duracz is no stranger to breaking records as he also holds the state record for lake whitefish, catching one weighing 9.34 pounds from Lake Michigan in 2021.

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The Fish Story Gets BIGGER

Just two weeks after Scott Skafar broke the 32-year state record with his 10.2-pound burbot, Phillip Duracz broke Skafar’s record by 1.2 pounds, catching an 11.4-pound burbot from Lake Michigan. Recent warm weather and light winds have provided excellent Lake Michigan fishing when the lake is usually unsafe to access.
With firm, white flesh and a large liver, like cod, burbot are good to eat. Learn more about Lake Michigan fishing at on.IN.gov/lakemichiganfishing and Indiana Record Fish at on.IN.gov/recordfish. More about this record: bit.ly/3w7cKKP
Indiana DNR
Indiana DNR
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Perfect Timing

Although fishing may seem like a warm weather activity, the colder water temperatures from November to April are actually ideal for catching burbot. During this time of year, burbot swim closer to shore in order to feed.

If you don't mind those winter temperatures, it's a great time to grab your rod and cast your own line to see what you can catch!

Unsplash/Brady Rogers
Unsplash/Brady Rogers
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Recently, the unusually warmer highs have created the perfect circumstances for those who enjoy fishing to grab their gear and take advantage of the ideal weather.

“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 Lake Michigan fisheries research biologist, said in the press release.

A Unique Species

It turns out, burbot are an interesting fish because they are the only freshwater species from the cod family. They require freezing temperatures to breed and will actually spend some time throughout the year living under ice.

The unique species is native to Lake Michigan that typically live on the lake bottom in deep water and feed on other types of fish. Like cod, they are actually a good fish to eat because of their firm, white flesh and large liver.

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Set Your Own Record

If you love to fish and are interested in breaking a record, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources encourages people to take part in their free Indiana Record Fish Program. The program has two categories including State Record Fish and Fish of the Year.

Do you think a fish you have caught may have broken a state record? Submit your catch using this form. Check out the list of fish records just waiting to be broken.

Even if your fish doesn't qualify as a record breaker, it may still be named fish of the year in any of the different categories.

Happy fishing!

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