Cod Family





Burbot (Lota lota)

The burbot (also called ling, lawyer, or cusk) is North America's only freshwater member of the cod family. A burbot's body is elongate. It has a small barbel on each anterior nostril and one on the middle of the chin. It has two dorsal fins, the first of which is short. Both the second dorsal fin and the anal fin are long. The burbot's heavy skin is dark olive with chainlike blackish or yellowish markings on the sides.

Burbot occur in Lake Erie, the Allegheny drainage, lakes of Central New York, Lake Ontario, tributaries of the St. Lawrence River, and Oneida Lake, and scattered records are also noted for the eastern branch of the Susquehanna River system. They are also present in tributaries of Lake George.

Burbot spawn in February under ice. They spawn in groups over sand or gravel bottoms in 1 to 4 feet of water. No nest is built, and no care is given the young. Adults prefer deep, cold water.

Burbot in the Great Lakes are usually about 1 to 5 pounds. This carnivorous fish feeds primarily on other fish. It is usually regarded as an undesirable species because it competes with some of our important coldwater sport fish for food. Although generally not considered important by fishermen as food, some people think highly of the eating qualities of its delicately flavored flesh.


Distribution of burbot in NY state.

An image of the burbot is available for download.

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