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Burbot Bash!

M. Spitzer

What puts the "ish" in fish? Eco writer Mark Spitzer says it's the burbot with its slime, slime, slime, and pools of snotty oozy gooby goo with pungent mucous everywhere!

On this episode we interview fish and eco writer Mark Spitzer about the controversial fish the burbot featured in his book 'Beautifully Grotesque Fish of the American West.'

Minnesota native, Spitzer has a childhood demon to expel; he hates ice fishing. But he's also in search of a story about the burbot, which is plaguing certain ecosystems in the West.

So he dons his homemade press badge, his thermals, his padded pants and jacket good to 30 below, and his warmest boots to head out on the ice of Flaming Gorge, Utah during the annual winter Burbot Bash. The Bash is a fishing tournament to cull the apex predator, the burbot, sometimes also called eel pout for its long, smooth skin and single large chin whisker. And if you can get past the smell, the mucous, and the half-catfish half-eel appearance, it is quite a tasty fish.

"They're eely, they're mucousy, they've got huge salamander-looking heads with bulging bubble eyes, and they're devouring the lake trout, the rainbow trout, cutthroats, Kokanee salmon, smallmouth bass, and almost everything else in Flaming Gorge."

M. Spitzer
Author Mark Spitzer holding up a burbot

Mark Spitzer (1965-2023) was the author of thirty-plus books, including 'In Search of Monster Fish' (University of Nebraska Press) and 'Monster Fishing' (Torrey House Press). Other books include novels, memoirs, collections of poetry and literary translations, and a book on writing pedagogy, 'Investigative Creative Writing' (Equinox Publishing).

He appeared on the Animal Planet series 'River Monsters' and has consulted for National Geographic's 'Monster Fish.' Spitzer was a professor of creative writing at the University of Central Arkansas.

Special thanks to biologist Dr. Will Clark for the interview. Musical score for this episode is by Amyjo Savannah, with additional songs from Ashtyn Barbareeand Joseph Fulleraccompanied by Michael Fuller.

Listen to the theme song by Joseph Fuller, with Michael Fuller on vocals:

Theme Song by Joseph Fuller, accompanied by Michael Fuller
Theme Song by Joseph Fuller, accompanied by Michael Fuller

Listen to the song "The River" by Amyjo Savannah:

The River .mp3

Listen to the song "I'll Be There" by Ashtyn Barbaree:

I'll Be There.mp3

Generous funding for Arts & Letters Radio was provided by the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Thank you to Stickyz Rock'n'Roll Chicken Shack for keeping music alive and well in Arkansas.

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Executive Producer and Host: J. Bradley Minnick
Producer & Story Editor: Mary Ellen Kubit
Sound Mix and Mastering: Joseph Fuller, Orchestra of One

This episode is a production of Living The Dream Media, Inc.

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