Press Release

Anglers are hooking into burbot, the Panhandle’s newest fishery

Even novice burbot anglers are finding success on the Kootenai River and Bonner Lake

It’s been a little while since the Kootenai River burbot fishery reopened on Jan. 1, after a 26-year closure. Biologists didn’t know what to expect, and they were unsure how accessible about 45,000 burbot in the river would be to anglers.

“People who have never fished for burbot, and some who have never fished the Kootenai River, are finding success,” said fishery research biologist Ryan Hardy.

Some anglers have been lucky enough to take home fish between 20 to 30 inches.

Kootenai River burbot angler
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Ryan Hardy/IDFG

Most burbot angling on the river is occurring at night when the fish are most active. Anglers report shrimp and cut bait are fishing well.

If you’re looking for the opportunity to catch burbot in the daylight, head to Bonner Lake, east of Moyie Springs. Thanks to the Kootenai Tribe that operates Idaho’s burbot hatchery program, around 2,000 fingerlings have been stocked in the lake since 2014.

As of Jan. 26, the ice was 7 inches thick over most of Bonner Lake, and anglers were catching burbot and trout throughout the day.

Ice fishing on Bonner Lake
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Kiira Siitari/IDFG

Fishing is only expected to get better, as burbot prepare to spawn in mid-February. Even if you’ve never fished for this species before, now is the time to try.

To learn more about the new burbot fishery, you can call the Regional Office at (208)769-1414.