person holding fishing reel
Photo: Clark Young

WYOMING — A Wyoming fishing derby focused on removing invasive burbot will offer up to $10,000 in rewards this month.

With plenty of winter remaining in southwest Wyoming, now is a great time to get out those fishing poles and get ready for the Ding the Ling burbot derby at Fontenelle Reservoir Feb. 19-21.

The Ding the Ling derby has occurred annually since 2016. Prizes are awarded for most burbot caught, longest burbot for adults, and smallest and largest for the youth category. Door prizes are also available. Again this year there will be two fish sporting insured tags. If either fish is caught they will be worth either $5,000 or $10,000 to the anglers. Additionally, all tagged fish will be in the running for the Ling Cha-Ching payout. Payouts are based on 125 participants and will increase with additional participation.

Covid rules will apply during registration, fish check-in, and closing ceremonies, to include social distancing and wearing of masks while around derby officials and other participants.

Photo: WGFD

Burbot were illegally introduced into the Green River Drainage including Fontenelle and Flaming Gorge reservoirs. They are a prolific and aggressive predator that have depleted the crayfish (forage) in Fontenelle and suppressed the smallmouth bass population. Burbot also regularly prey upon other sportfish such as trout and kokanee. Currently, the best option for reducing burbot numbers is angler harvest.

The Burbot Bash and LaBarge Ding the Ling ice fishing derbies aim to reduce the number of burbot and thereby the impact burbot are having on local fisheries. The 2021 Burbot Bash on Flaming Gorge Reservoir was a great success with 1345 participants signed up. Teams caught and removed 4661 burbot from the reservoir and caught eight tagged fish.

“These derbies provide a great opportunity to educate the public about the problems burbot are causing, to recruit anglers, and to remove thousands of burbot,” Green River Fisheries Biologist Jessica Dugan said. “Since burbot derbies began on the Gorge in 2010 nearly 50,000 burbot have been removed – this doesn’t include burbot harvested by anglers the rest of the year.”

The winner’s ceremony will be at 10 a.m. on Feb. 21. A valid fishing license is required. More information can be found on Facebook or by calling Jenny at (307) 388-0198, Sadie (307) 390-3052, or Ashley (307) 231-0891.

Buckrail @ Jacob

Jacob Gore was born and raised in Cheyenne, the capital city of Wyoming. As a proud Wyomingite, he loves to share his home with visitors from around the world. Spending years in Jackson and Alaska as an interpretive nature guide, he remains a photographer, traveler, storyteller, and avid hobbyist of all-things outdoors. Jacob enjoys bridging the connection between Jackson and the rest of the state.