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National

Wyoming Anglers To Hold Raffle On Ugly Fish

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

High on western Wyoming's most wanted list is the burbot.

TROY LAUGHLIN: They are a non-native invasive species.

SHAPIRO: That's fisheries biologist Troy Laughlin with the Wyoming Department of Game and Fish. He says the burbot is a cod-like freshwater fish, and it is ugly.

LAUGHLIN: They're sort of eel-like.

SHAPIRO: The burbot goes by many aliases - freshwater ling, the lawyer and mariah. And they're up to no good.

LAUGHLIN: These burbot have come in and eaten a majority of the crayfish, and that is the primary forage species for smallmouth bass.

SHAPIRO: The state wants anglers to catch as many of these invaders as they can.

LAUGHLIN: We have implemented a raffle.

SHAPIRO: Yeah, a raffle. It's co-sponsored by the nonprofit Trout Unlimited. Back in October, the state netted 25 of the invading burbot in Fontenelle Reservoir. A numbered yellow tag went on each fish, and then the state released them. Now, if you catch a fish with a tag and turn that tag in, you're eligible for a prize of $1,000. And catching them ain't easy.

ROBIN RHODES: They're a fighting fish.

SHAPIRO: Angler Robin Rhodes knows. He's gone ice fishing for burbot before in the dead of night.

RHODES: Till 1 or 2 in the morning.

SHAPIRO: And Mr. Rhodes says it's not only fun to do that with friends. There's a chance of winning the raffle. Plus he likes the taste of burbot.

RHODES: We'll deep-fry them or boil them and use garlic butter. And they're excellent eating, kind of a poor man lobster.

SHAPIRO: A western Wyoming version of lobster anyway. Robin Rhodes says there's plenty of burbot to go around.

RHODES: Yeah, come and help us.

SHAPIRO: The next raffle drawing is supposed to be January 8. That's if anyone enters. So far the state says all 25 of those tagged burbot are still out there. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.