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Burbot, Dogfish, Eelpout, Bowfin

What's The Difference?

A Burbot or Dogfish Do you remember the mystery fish from two years ago?
Does that fish look exactly like the one caught this year? An eelpout or Bowfin

Here's The Scoop


Ron Fredrick was absolutely correct identifying the mystery fish as a Dogfish. Gary Nelson also correctly identified it as a Bowfin. Juris, on the other hand, incorrectly stated in his e–Mail to all of you that the fish was an Eelpout or Burbot or Dogfish and again this year by calling the fish a dogfish. Will he ever learn?

To find the answer, I searched the web and came across a web page entitled " Natural History Of Minnesota Fishes" on the University of Minnesota's web site. A summary follows:

Image of Bowfin Image of Eelpout
Bowfin/Dogfish Facts
Member of the Bowfin family
Burbot/Eelpout Facts
Member of the Cod family
  • Bowfins will eat just about anything that won't eat it first. They eat fish of all kinds and often feed at night on frogs, snakes, and turtles. They also can fast for very long periods of time.
  • Bowfins are not good eating.
  • The main predators of bowfins are bigger bowfins.
  • Bowfins come to the surface every few minutes to breathe air. They use their swim bladder as if it were a lung. They also use gills to breath in the water. (we were wondering what always "hits" the surface).
  • The Burbot is a predatory fish whose diet may include perch, walleyes, lake trout fish eggs, clams, and crayfish.
  • Unlike the Bowfin, Burbot are good to eat.
  • The Burbot is a cold water fish (less than 69°F).
  • Burbot spawn during midwinter in less than 15–feet of water. During their spawn, Walker has its annual International Eelpout festival on Leach Lake.
  • Young Burbots are prey for perch, smallmouth and trout.
  • Burbots grow to be larger than the Bowfin.


As it turns out, all of the previously caught fish designated as Burbot, Eelpout, or Dogfish were actually Bowfin or Dogfish. I believe that I have caught the first Eelpout by the group on Woman Lake.

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Date Created: July 12, 2002
Last Modified: February 16, 2004
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