Moxostoma.com is the effort of a fish-loving guy in Illinois, not the redhorse arm of a fishing conglomerate or academic institution. My professional calling is book design, which I do through my company, Chinook Design, Inc. My main calling, however, is fishing. To me, “fishing” includes reading and writing about fish, making fish-related art, and actually casting an actual line in an attempt to catch actual fish. I have work and kids, so it’s sometimes tough to get out and pursue fish. That’s where the reading, writing and art come in.

I was once a fisherman with restricted vision. I fished for bass, trout, salmon, pike, etc.: the usual “game” fish. It wasn’t that I had anything against other species. Like most fishing enthusiasts I didn’t know that most of the other species existed. I’d seen lots of carp, of course, and I knew of gar and sturgeon (though I’d never seen them in the wild). I knew that there was a species of fish called a sucker, but my sole experience with one was more than 20 years ago, when the 16 year old me watched another fisherman in the boat on a central Washington crappie trip go berserk with a fillet knife, repeatedly stabbing a sucker he’d caught.

For decades I was an obsessed fisherman, reading everything I could get my hands on to learn about those usual suspect species. Trolling the web for interesting writing about trout one night in 2007, I accidentally found roughfish.com and my fishing life completely changed for the better.

The sudden discovery that the same waters I fished for bass and trout were also teeming with many other catchable species was an explosion of possibility with the potential to cure the boredom I hadn’t fully realized was setting in. My mental map of the underwater world around me had to expand to include suckers bigger and stronger than any bass or trout I’d ever encountered, violent carnivores like bowfin and gar ready to make me bleed if my concentration slipped, and fish with cool names like mooneye and goldeye.

In the years since I have reoriented my fishing brain to encompass a much wider idea of what fishing is, and quite a bit of time has gone into researching new species and plotting attempts to catch them. The species that have made the biggest impression on me over this time are the catostomids, and among them my favorites are the redhorses and the mighty hogsucker. The redhorse’s rarity, susceptibility to human folly (pollution, siltation, dams), and disinterest in lures and flies designed to trigger a predatory response have conspired to capture my interest.

There is a great deal of information out there about these fish (scientific, sporting, culinary, historical, etc.), though nowhere near as much as about more profitable fish, but it is scattered and not always easy to find. I plan to use this site to organize that information for my own sanity. If it also helps others, that is a bonus. I’ll also be posting my art and perhaps trying to sell some of it, but because I see fishing and fish as pure, holy pursuits I am not likely to veer far into the commercial lane. It would feel too dirty.

Olaf Nelson
Brookfield, IL
September 13, 2011



  1. Congrats on the new website. Looks great so far, and i look forward to watching it grow…

  2. Very interesting website idea. I love book design and anything to do with graphic design, layout etc….. I did my PhD on sturgeon but have been all-out into Redhorse and Suckers for many years. I held Greater and River redhorse that would have blown your mind.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *