Though Minnesota is known for phenomenal walleye fishing, there is one fish that is just about as famous and is just as versatile in the kitchen. These odd looking eating machines are Minnesota eelpout. Eelpout are also known by names like burbot, Mariah (mostly used in Canada), and the poor man’s lobster due to their taste and texture. They are definitely not the most visually appealing fish, but boy are they fun to catch and great additions to the dinner menu. So, let’s get into how to catch, clean, and cook up these Lake of the Woods classics!
Catching Minnesota Eelpout
Eelpout may not appear to be top predators, but they are quite the eating machines that have a heavy appetite, making them fun to pull out of the ice. Much like walleye, they do tend to stay closer to the bottom of the lake floor but aren’t afraid to venture up for something that looks particularly tasty. With big mouths and a body that is close to 40% fin, burbot are designed for stealthy swimming and eating just about anything they come across. These factors make it pretty easy to decide what to rig on your line as they will bite nearly any lure you choose. Walleye set-ups work really well and eelpout don’t discriminate size. The main tips for catching eelpout is that the fishing is at its best when the sun goes down, so be ready to pull an all-nighter or two. Glow-in-the-dark that are easily spotted in the dark and loud rattlers draw the most attention and are the most likely to snag you some good dinner.
Cleaning Your Catch
While most fish are filleted from the base of the head and down the sides, burbot’s unique shape makes it a little different. When cleaning eelpout, you’re going to want to take the back straps and the meat along the tail. So, make a T-shaped cut at the top of the fish right behind the head. You will want to stay above the rib cage and run your fillet to about where the belly ends. This portion should peel up easily and be free of bones. Then, you can take the meaty potion down the sides of the tail. The main portion that most people eat is the back straps as they are what is best-known as the “poor man’s lobster” with a texture that slightly resembles and tastes pretty close to lobster. The tail meat is basically an extra bonus that still holds up in cooking.
Best Ways to Prepare Your Burbot Meat
Cooking Minnesota eelpout catches is a bit of a classic dish in the great white north. The most common way to cook eelpout is boiling it in 7-up – yes, you did read that right! To get the classic lobster-like dish that eelpout is best known for, simply boil in 7-up and dip in garlic butter. There are obviously no limits to what you can do with burbot meat though. You can keep it simple with a quick pan-fry in salt and pepper, beer-batter fry it, wrap it in bacon and throw it on the grill, or get even more creative. Anglers have done everything from tossing it in linguine, creating a poor man’s lobster Mac n cheese, and even whipped up some fish tacos. They are pretty versatile fish when it comes to creating a yummy dish.
Give it a Try!
When asking, “What does burbot taste like?,” the best way to describe it is honestly pretty light on flavor. The texture is dense like lobster but still flaky like most fish meats and doesn’t carry a strong fish taste like many other Minnesota catches. The best way to really find out what it tastes like is to try it yourself as it is quite a bit different from any other game fish. So, add an ice fishing trip to Lake of the Woods and hit up one of the best Minnesota ice fishing resorts to experience a phenomenal Minnesota eelpout fishing adventure at River Bend Resort! We have ice house sleeper rentals for those overnight burbot binges, fish cleaning houses to prepare your fish, and cooktops so you can cook it right at the resort. It doesn’t get easier than that!