Build-a-burbot: How to make and set a cusk line for ice fishing

Saturday, February 1, 2020 - 3:00pm to 5:00pm

Location: Squam Lakes Association. SLA is located at 534 US Rt. 3 in Holderness. Click Here for a Google Map.

Registration: REGISTRATION REQUIRED: Limited to 5 participants. MUST HAVE A FISHING LICENSE. NO EXCEPTIONS $10.00 charge for cusk line materials if not bringing your own. Please bring check or cash on day of program.  Click here to register for this program.

This Week's Program:

Have you ever wanted to go ice fishing but just never seemed to find the right time? Well on the first of February you can finally get your chance. Here at the Squam Lakes Association we will be learning how to create and set up a Cusk line! If you’re wondering what a cusk is you may have heard it by one of its other common names. The cusk or burbot (Lota lota) is a gorgeous fish. With long dorsal and anal fins and a streamlined body it looks very eel-like. Don’t let that confuse you though; the cusk is the only freshwater species in the Cod family. 

Cusk fishing is limited to a handful of lakes in the State. Fishing for the cusk is not only a highly rewarding experience, but a salute to winter. Ice fishing is one of the most popular ways to catch one. Being the only known freshwater fish to spawn under the ice in the winter months, and the only freshwater member of the Cod family, this species is an important and unique part of the lake. Each creature in our watershed serves a purpose in its function. The cusk is a predatory fish with a large mouth, making it a valuable piece of the lakes ecology.  

We will be going out onto the ice to make and set up our lines in accordance to the NH fish and game laws. Participants should feel free to bring materials to make their own lines! We are looking forward to getting out there and figuring out what all the fuss is about!

What to Bring:  You MUST bring lots of extra layers that can be taken off/added on to stay warm and dry, raingear, a hat, gloves/mittens and an extra pair of socks. We will be out at night in very cold and windy conditions with no cover. Prior to departure LRCC members will look your clothing/equipment to make sure you are adequately prepared. You also need a headlamp, any sort of medication you may need, warm boots, snowshoes or microspikes (dependent on conditions), snacks, and plenty of water. The SLA can provide snowshoes for up to six participants. Click here to view a list of SLA recommended gear for winter hiking.

Bring your own BAIT (larger bait will ensure smaller cusk aren’t getting on your line). Preferably live bait so larger minnows or white sucker, etc.

Anyone comfortable out at night in very cold temperatures for a few hours. There will likely be a lot of wind on the lake due to lack of tree cover. Not suitable for young children. 


This Week's LRCC Guides: 

My name is Moses Shafer. I am from Parkersburg, West Virginia where I spent my days hiking rugged mountains and jumping into cool mountain pools. I am green to New Hampshire, but I am excited to do some great winter hiking and skiing while I’m here. I enjoy plants, mushrooms, bugs, and salamanders, but I am always interested in learning more. I aspire to one day be an ecologist for a National Forest. 

Hello! My name is Grace Callahan and I’m from Alexandria, Virginia. I graduated from Dartmouth College in 2019 where I studied ecology and earth sciences. Flipping logs to find slugs, centipedes, and salamanders in the woods behind my house was an important part of growing up for me. I’m passionate about helping people explore and connect with their backyards like I was fortunate enough to do, and this means protecting natural backyard spaces! I hope to work to preserve clean rivers, lakes, and forests for generations to come. I grew up visiting Squam and Winnipesaukee during summer vacations and I’m so excited to live here for a year! I love learning new things and right now I’m trying to teach myself more butterfly/moth ID, how to sew simple stuffed animals and clothes, and how to make good rice.

SLA's Adventure Ecology Trips:

Throughout the year, the Squam Lakes Association offers free programs open to the public on a variety of nature and conservation related topics. The Adventure Ecology programs are presented by the Lakes Region Conservation Corps members who perform important conservation work in support of the Association's mission. For more information about the SLA's educational programs please click here or call our office at (603) 968-7336.

Lakes Region Conservation Corps

The Lakes Region Conservation Corps (LRCC) is an AmeriCorps service program that develops skills and experiences for conservation professionals. LRCC members are the driving force behind the Squam Lakes Association’s conservation efforts. The program provides hands-on conservation work experience and numerous certifications over a broad range of areas, which ensures that LRCC members are capable of independently approaching a variety of tasks in the environmental conservation field. Members remove invasive species from the Squam watershed, manage and act as caretakers at our backcountry campsites, maintain the SLA’s 50+ miles of trails, educate the public on local and regional conservation initiatives, spearhead reports on conservation efforts, lead SLA volunteer crews and ensure the daily functioning of the Squam Lakes Association’s programs. Click here to learn more about LRCC.


Click here to return to the Adventure Ecology home page.