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.
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