Several species needed to be photographed for the Fishes of Missouri 3rd edition are so hit & miss within Missouri that searching for specimens within the state of Missouri would not be beneficial considering our time crunch to complete this project. Plains Minnow, Rainbow Smelt, and Burbot are three species of several defined by this logic.
Burbot (Lota lota) are a finicky northern relic requiring consistent cool waters with high water quality to survive. They occasionally show up in Missouri by getting blown downstream from several states away during high water events on our large rivers. One attempt was already made with John Lyons in Wisconsin to photograph this species. Three adult specimens were captured and placed in a tub awaiting my arrival 2 days later. Unfortunately, all three didn’t survive the first night.
Soon after, Konrad Schmidt in Minnesota captured one and placed it in a chilled aquarium of one of his high school volunteers in southern Minnesota. After several months, the fish was still alive and well. Bob Hrabik and I made plans to embark on a journey to ‘borrow’ this kid’s fish. Several days before our departure, it was discovered our Burbot owner went MIA and Konrad took it upon himself to capture several more specimens to bring for our weekend meet up in extreme northern Iowa.
I left work at 4:30 pm Friday from Decatur, Illinois and met Bob in Hannibal, Missouri. We proceeded to drive to northern Iowa to meet our fish wrangler gang who had already booked us a hotel and tucked our prized Burbot in for the night. We were greeted in our hotel at 1:30 am by aerators and the appearance of healthy Burbot. Without taking the chance of awaking to dead fish, we decided to photograph before calling it a night. Of course, the things were nothing but trouble and required an extra set of hands to achieve quality results.
The rest of the weekend was spent following John Olson of the Iowa DNR chasing historic records of Pearl Dace and Least Darters. Both were easily rediscovered. John seemed to be our communications specialist, making friends with property owners encountered. He was able to gain access to all private localities inquired, making friends along the way.
Thanks to all who participated and helped make this a successful weekend, Konrad Schmidt, John Olson, George Cunningham, and Bob Hrabik.
Allllllll for a Burbot 😉