Burbot become the odd du jour on Chicago lakefront, another near-record caught

Paul Sahs caught the latest near-record burbot, one of several this fall in Chicago.

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Paul Sahs caught a near-record burbot at 87th Street.


Paul Sahs “knew right away it wasn’t a perch.’’

Instead, he caught and released a burbot of near-record size.

It’s been a wilder than usual this fall for perch anglers. Beside the usual surprises of northern pike, brown trout, lake trout and steelhead, there’s been some burbot, too.

Sahs hooked his surprise Friday morning while perch fishing with Zach Nichols and Corey Randazzo at 87th Street with large fatheads on VMC spin hooks on a drop-shot set for perch

“I was hoping it was a brown trout; it fought like a walleye, though,’’ Sahs messaged. “Didn’t wanna come off the bottom at first. When I finally saw it, at first glance, I thought it was a flathead. But then my buddy Zach told me it was a burbot.

“I really wish I had taken measurements, because it felt around 8 pounds. I was mainly concerned about getting it back in the water ASAP. It has a big ol’ belly on it. I had no idea these fish are in Chicago.’’

I wish too that he had taken measurements, because it looked close to the Illinois record.

“Ya, I’m kicking myself for not weighing it,’’ he messaged. “Oh, well.’’

The Illinois-record burbot (9 pounds, 5.6 ounces) was caught Dec. 9, 2018 by Freddie Ray Prebianca while on a duck hunting/fishing trip out of North Point Marina. Click here to read that story.

Burbot, more traditionally are a deep-water fish, rarely caught near shore. But that has changed in recent years as Lake Michigan has evolved. The scarcity of food appears to drive them closer to shore.

The most famous burbot catch in Chicago was by Ken Maggiore. He became the first to catch two Illinois-record fish on the same day on March 22, 2017. He caught what was then the burbot (9.3 pounds) and lake whitefish (7.5 pounds) records at Montrose Harbor. Click here to read that story.

The trend continues. Sey Jay caught a near-record burbot at Diversey Harbor to earn FOTW earlier this fall. Around the same day, another near-record burbot was caught and eaten before the angler realized he might have had a record. Click here to read his story. Keep in mind, one of the many common names for burbot is poor man’s lobster. Other names include eelpout, lawyer fish and lingcod.

Surprise might be another good name.

CAPILUPO HONOR: Fishing CPR will award Joe Capilupo for his catch and release of the Illinois-record smallmouth during a public event at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Henry’s Sports and Bait. Capilupo caught the record (7 pounds, 3 ounces) on Oct. 14 from Monroe Harbor. He weighed it at Henry’s, then released it back to Lake Michigan after a night of rest. Click here to read the story, photo of Capilupo and his record is below.


Joe Capilupo holds his Illinois-record smallmouth bass after it was weighed on a certified scale at Henry’s Sports and Bait.

Dale Bowman

HUNTING: Illinois’ second firearm season is Thursday through Sunday. I’m curious to see what harvest is after a 15-percent drop in first season from last year.

STRAY CAST: Moving ``The Sunday Spin: Politics with Rick Pearson’’ to Sunday evening on WGN-AM for ``The Sinatra Hours’’ is like dropping Jonathan Toews to defense to bring back Stan Mikita or returning Mike Iaconelli to club fishing to structure the resurrection of Buck Perry.

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