A North Dakota angler caught a state-record burbot on January 3 whereas jigging for walleye within the Garrison Tailrace at Lake Sakakawea. Shane Johnson, of Minot, hooked the 19-pounder on a quarter-ounce jig rigged with a 3-inch plastic lure whereas fishing off a wing wall that juts into the spillway under the 2-mile-long Garrison Dam.

Johnson, who describes himself as “a mean Joe” in the case of fishing, wasn’t sure at first precisely what he had on his line. “I used to be jigging gradual, not likely super-aggressive, when unexpectedly I felt an enormous hit,” he tells Discipline & Stream. “Then it was simply lifeless weight. The fish didn’t actually transfer at first, however then it lastly began swimming slowly upstream, which is fairly typical of what paddlefish do. However the hit was so laborious I knew it couldn’t be a paddlefish, and I began to suppose possibly it was an enormous walleye.”

Throughout a 10-minute combat, the fish employed quite a lot of evasive maneuvers—massive runs, head shakes, rolls—that stored Johnson and his fishing accomplice, Brandon Gullickson, uncertain about its species. “By the point I bought it up close to the floor, with the headlamp shining down and the fish 10 inches under the floor, it regarded like I had a 6-foot fish on,” Johnson says. “It was at that time that we realized it was a burbot, after which we bought fairly excited.”

Garrison Dam is on the Missouri River about midway between Bismarck and Minot. Its spillway is a well-liked vacation spot for North Dakota anglers—for good motive. The Garrison Tailrace has produced six state data, together with a 31-pound brown trout, a 31-pound chinook salmon, a 10-pound cutthroat trout, a 16-pound lake trout, a 21-pound rainbow trout, and an 8-pound whitefish.

The wing wall the place Johnson fished is bordered by a sequence hyperlink fence and stands about 25 to 30 ft above the water’s floor. Anglers usually use a pier web—a drop basket developed for pier fishing—to hoist fish by means of the air. With a fish on the road, this may show difficult, particularly on a chilly night time with solely headlamps for gentle. “It took in all probability 10 tries, dragging the fish forwards and backwards, for one more 10 minutes to get it into the basket,” Johnson recollects. “Fortunately I had my good buddy Brandon operating the online whereas I attempted to maneuver the fish.”

Johnson’s Catch Topped a 38-Yr-Previous State Report

The burbot was 41 3/4 inches lengthy. Shane Johnson

By round 11:30 p.m., the duo had the burbot in hand. It was only the start of an 11-hour odyssey to get the fish licensed for state-record consideration. North Dakota laws require contenders for state-record standing to be weighed on an authorized scale and verified in particular person by an worker of the North Dakota Sport and Fish Division (NDGF). The fish weighed 20 kilos, 6 ounces on Johnson’s hand-held scale, however with no strategy to get it weighed and verified till morning, he and Gullickson determined to fish by means of the night time. He wrapped the burbot in a plastic trash bag and stowed it within the backseat of his automobile. By the point he bought to an official scale the following morning, the fish’s weight had dropped under 20 kilos: The official weight to be entered within the file e-book—after the state’s necessary four-week ready interval—is nineteen kilos, 5 ounces. The fish was additionally 41 3/4 inches lengthy.

“Sport and Fish advised me if I had wrapped the fish in a moist burlap sack or seaside towel, it probably wouldn’t have misplaced a lot weight as a result of dehydration,” Johnson says. “So to any extent further, I’ll all the time have a rubbish bag and a seaside towel with me, simply in case I get an enormous fish.”

Johnson’s catch broke a state file that had stood since 1984 when Orland Kruckenberg hauled an 18-pound, 4-ounce burbot from the Knife River. NDGF classifies burbot as unusual within the state, noting that their populations present trigger for concern and may gain advantage from additional examine. The one freshwater member of the cod species, burbot appear like a cross between a catfish and an eel, with a single barbel rising out of their decrease jaw and a glossy, tube-shaped physique.  

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“I’m simply sort of a mean Joe, not a super-avid fisherman. I’ve solely been fishing out of my very own boat in all probability two instances within the final three or 4 years, and the one time I actually do any fishing is on the Garrison Tailrace, normally at night time and within the winter,” Johnson says. “So I bought fortunate. I used to be in the suitable spot on the proper time and slammed the fish of a lifetime. It feels fairly good.” 

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