Blue Suckers for NANFA 2017 Convention in Missouri

I was asked to design the t-shirt for this year’s annual meeting of the North American Native Fishes Association in Missouri (June 8-13, 2017, Meramec State Park). To register for the convention: http://www.nanfa.org/convention/2017.shtml There’s even something on the back, in case you’re being followed: The first batch of orders has shipped! To order a shirt (or a bunch of them): http://www.nanfa.org/cart.shtml#MOshirt (all proceeds go to NANFA, not me). They come in M, L, XL, XXL and XXXL.… Continue reading

Iris Catches the Unicorn

As parents, we want our kids to be better than we are and to do better than we have done. The other day I got a little taste of this idea in action. My daughters have fished as long as they’ve been able to hold a fishing pole. Both of them love it. But Iris, age 9, has developed a fishing addiction that rivals my own. All winter we talked about the fishing we’d do… Continue reading

Shorthead Redhorse Spawning in Living Color

Spring is the best season. Anyone who says otherwise is wrong. Anyone who claims fall is better is secretly paid to say it. Among the surest and most exciting signs of spring are the annual spawning runs of various fish in local waterways. The arrival of White Bass (Morone chrysops) in large numbers makes for exciting fishing. Though futile from a reproductive standpoint, the runs of Coho Salmon and Steelhead (Rainbow Trout) up Lake Michigan… Continue reading

State Record Shorthead Redhorse Caviar

I have asked myself many times what I would do if I happened to catch a record-sized fish. I suspect most of us who fish obsessively have thought about this. There are really only two choices. You either kill it, take it to a certified scale, fill out paperwork and get the record, or you photograph the hell out of it, measure it every way you can think of, then release it and bask in… Continue reading

Black Horse, Blue Sucker

 The following was first published, in an abridged form, in American Currents, (http://www.nanfa.org/ac.shtml and see my post about AC and NANFA here) Vol. 40, no. 1 (January, 2015). This online version will evolve as I find new information, new images, and additional sources. Fishing in the Public Domain Unlike features such as scale or ray counts, the names of fishes—scientific and common—are susceptible to the same forces as any human creation. What initially seem like… Continue reading

Modoc Sucker Delisting: Public Comment Period Extended

Anyone with scientific or other evidence regarding the health of the Modoc Sucker as a species has a very brief window during which additional comments may be submitted regarding the FWS proposal to remove the species from the Federal List of Threatened and Endangered Wildlife. De-listing was proposed a year ago (February, 2014). See my post about it here. The proposal states: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to remove the Modoc… Continue reading

The World of Suckers (1909) and the Growth of Suckerism

Cover of the World of Suckers by Lionel Josaphare (1909)

Suckerism is not a circumstantial folly but an active emotion. Lionel Josaphare All hail the great unacknowledged scholar of suckers and suckerism, Lionel Josaphare (1876–?), whose work belongs on the shelf with your other fish books. It even includes valuable information missing from all those old Jordan & Evermann books and your $250 copy of Becker’s Fishes of Wisconsin. Though they covered a great many species, they apparently ignored quite a few. According to The… Continue reading

Illinois Gar Summit I, Feb. 2014

Illinois Gar Summit I, 2014: Bill Meyer, Olaf Nelson. Solomon David and a cenury-old (plus) Alligator Gar in the deepest recesses of the Field Museum in Chicago.

After months of hopeful but vague discussion about getting together to talk gar (and other cool fish), three of the most gar obsessed citizens of Illinois finally managed to meet at the end of February. Solomon David, Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Shedd Aquarium (and see primitivefishes.com), hosted Bill Meyer (founder of garfishing.com and the Gar Angler’s Sporting Society [GASS]) and me for a full day of fish nerding. We enjoyed a tour behind the… Continue reading

New Work on Species of Western Mountain Suckers (Pantosteus)

A new paper does a lot for our understanding of the several Mountain Sucker species in the genus Pantosteus. It elevates Pantosteus back to genus and elevates some old species. It divides Bluehead Suckers into two species: P. discobolus (in the Colorado Basin) and  P. virescens (in the Bonneville and Snake basins). It divides mountain suckers into P. platyrhynchus (in the Bonneville and Snake basins), P. jordani (in the Missouri Basin), P. lahontan (in the… Continue reading

Modoc Sucker no longer endangered?

After almost 30 years on the endangered species list, the Modoc sucker (Catostomus microps) is up for delisting, according to an article from the Klamath Falls Herald and News, by Lacey Jarrell (found on the Oregon Public Broadcasting site) (see also this excellent post on the Introduction to Fisheries blog). The species, which lives in a small area of northern California and southern Oregon, was listed by the state of California in 1980, then federally… Continue reading

Redhorse Army, show your allegiance!

There is a new redhorse design for sale in the zazzle store, created in response to a few people who told me that they like the pyramid of redhorse lips, but don’t want to have to explain it all the time. This time the word REDHORSE is prominently featured (along with an unblinking redhorse eye). I don’t know how much it will help, since I’m asked all the time what “redhorse” means. Wear the insignia… Continue reading

Gar and suckers (and me) on the radio (and iTunes) today

As if the newspaper article about my deviant fishing tastes and the alligator gar I caught wasn’t enough, today a radio show is being broadcast on the same subjects. I was actually allowed to sit in a recording studio and talk for half an hour about my thoughts on fish, fishing, and more. After a week of imagining all the stupid things I might have said and strange sounds I might have made, I’m relieved… Continue reading

Moxillumination

Sunshine and a cooperative little shorthead. Is there a word or term for that zone of both rays and barely-formed scales, or for the stage of scale formation where they are more hints than scales? If not, there ought to be. Suggestions? This little channel catfish (8 or 9 inches at most) also had a healthy glow when x-rayed by the sun. Continue reading

A blue sucker in the hand is worth 100 in books

I have held blue suckers. A bunch of them.   (There are more photos below. Read on or scroll down.) It turns out that if you start a site devoted to catostomids, and you’re very polite to the right people, you might find yourself spending a sunny May day on board a boat in the Wisconsin River with a net in your hands and hundreds of suckers (of many species) and sturgeon (of two species)… Continue reading

Juvenile quillback carpsuckers on hook and line

Multi-species angler Ben Cantrell managed to catch a couple of juvenile quillbacks (Carpiodes cyprinus) recently (late March, 2013), and since I have never seen any this young—in person or in photos this clear—I asked if he would let me post them here. (Edit: Ben has since written up this story on his own blog, along with other fishing successes. Check it out for some great fish and photos: http://bencantrellfish.blogspot.com/) These were caught in an area… Continue reading

Recovery and protection of the Robust Redhorse

Judging from the photos I’ve seen, and from the gorgeous tuberculate specimen depicted by Joseph Tommeleri (see the factsheet pdf mentioned below), the robust redhorse is an awesome fish. They get big, they live a long time, and they have come back from extinction. For more on robust redhorse see The Robust Redhorse Conservation Committee website (http://www.robustredhorse.com/) and download their 2 page fact sheet. This video gives a very brief account of the efforts of… Continue reading

Northern Illinois Greater Redhorse, April 2012

How often do you get to meet a new fishing buddy, discover half a dozen excellent multi-species fishing spots within an hour of home, sample the fish resident in those new locations while learning a bit about handling several different types of seines, learn a bit about photo tanks and fish photography, and see and handle dozens of new fish species, including one that’s listed as endangered in the state? Not very often. In April… Continue reading

Flannelmouth sucker, on a fly, in Colorado, in February

Angler with flannelmouth sucker on Roaring Fork River, Colorado

I spend a fair amount of time reading about fishing—in books and online—and, as I’ve noted elsewhere on this site, I’m weary of the preponderance of trout writing and trout photos. As I’ve also said, I am a big fan of trout and trout fishing. I just don’t like to see fishing limited to a few types of fish. I’ve wondered if the many bloggers and authors posting amazing trout photos have shots of other… Continue reading

Largescale Suckers on the Fly, Montana, January

Bitterroot River largescale sucker

The lucky SOBs highly skilled anglers over at False Casts and Flat Tires got a surprise gift from the Bitterroot River recently, and I’m jealous: a bunch of 20″ largescale suckers (Catostomus macrocheilus) and some trout to keep them busy while waiting for another sucker to bite. I can’t go home to Montana and catch fish like these now, so I’m grateful they chose to post excellent photos (and give me permission to post them… Continue reading

Cowardly pike, sportless walleye, evil gar, holy trout & virtuous whitefish

Looking for Insults I tend to get pretty angry when I find anti-sucker (and other roughfish) sentiment on the web or in current publications. By now, shouldn’t everyone know better? In older sources, however, I make a point of looking for insults, dismissals, diatribes and condemnations of the fish I like. It’s fun to read. While I wouldn’t expect old books aimed at a popular audience (how-to-fish manuals, fishing guidebooks, memoirs of fishermen) to cover… Continue reading

The Boy’s Own Guide to (sucker) Fishing (1894)

The boy's own guide to fishing, tackle-making and fish-breeding (cover)

Here’s a first: A book that doesn’t malign suckers and doesn’t just mention them in passing or as bait but has an entire chapter about sucker fishing gives suckers pride of place with the first chapter recommends fishing for suckers recommends eating suckers and says they’re as good as trout instructs the reader on proper methods of worm cleaning There are some slights against suckers, but nothing major and far outweighed by the positives. Plus,… Continue reading

Suckers, eels and other vermin

Title page of an old book showing fishing gear

From page 217 of The Book of Fish and Fishing by Louis Rhead, 1917: For big trout, lying low in deep pools, more particularly the brown trout, the worm should be sunk to the bottom; it is sure to be taken quick, if the worm is actively alive. Of course, suckers, eels, and other vermin are liable to take it, if left in one position for any length of time. To prevent such annoyance, keep… Continue reading