Burbot (Ling Cod)
Only a handful of anglers can say they've caught a BURBOT through the ice and even less can say they've caught them on purpose. Also known as ling, maria, lawyer and eelpout, the burbot exists in Lake Simcoe and fish in the 3-5lb range are reported every winter. By understanding the biology and movements of this fish, you too can catch an elusive Lake Simcoe freshwater cod. Anglers who've had the opportunity to catch one insist they provide a great sporting alternative to other popular fish species and more importantly provide great table fare. On Simcoe, the hottest burbot fishing is from mid february to March while fishing at dusk and into the night.
Biology: The burbot is one of the few freshwater fishes which spawn midwinter, under the ice. They spawn from November to May, in Lake Simcoe they will most likely spawn from January to March. Spawning sites are typically found in 1-4 feet of water over a sand, gravel or cobble bottom (free of silt) in shallow bays, or on gravel shoals 5 to 10 feet deep. The spawning season is relatively short lasting only 2 or 3 weeks. It’s interesting to note that not all adult fish spawn every year.
Ontario Angling Record: In the winter of 2017, a 17.95lb burbot was officially caught from Lake Simcoe making it the current largest Burbot to be caught from Ontario! Please see the below youtube video showcasing the whole process from catching the burbot to weighing the fish.
Lake Simcoe Diet: Over 80% of a Burbot's diet consists of fish. Burbot are a voracious predator and become active around dusk. Adult burbot feed mostly on fishes such as emerald shiners, herring, yellow perch, smelt, suckers, sculpins and sticklebacks. In addition, with the introduction and quick population growth of Round Gobies, there's a very good chance burbot are feeding on these invasive fish too. They are also known to eat crayfish and invertebrates browsed from the bottom in the winter.
Recommended Baits: Anglers report catching Burbot using glow in the dark spoons or small spoons tipped with a minnow. Other baits include standard spoons, vibrato, small minnow type imitation baits near bottom, glow in the dark jigheads or badboys tipped with live or salted shiners. Some anglers report that sucker belly meat or frozen herring on a tip-up setup works best.
Depth Range: Anglers report burbot fishing to be best in depths of 12 -15 feet of water during the spawning season and earlier in the season in deeper water anywhere from 20 - 50 feet.
Current 2019 Lake Simcoe Regulations:
Burbot have a very liberal catch limit and there is currently no seasonal angling restriction on Lake Simcoe.
Recommended Locations: Target shoal areas like long shoal or cooks bay shoal and drop off ledges leading into deeper water. Some anglers report catching Burbot off both Fox and Snake Island leading into deeper water.