Doyle Coultas displays a sucker in front of a dogwood tree. When the dogwood blooms, suckers are on the riffles.
Sucker fishing may be a bit like snipe hunting. If people have ever heard of either, they think they are jokes, but both are real.
As a youngster, we neighbor kids used to take a new kid “snipe hunting.” The newby was taken out in the dark and given a bag to hold, and we would drive the snipe to him. In reality, we went off somewhere and laughed, and finally the new kid figured out he had been tricked.
In reality, snipes are migratory birds and there is a snipe season. And, there also are fish called suckers, that in early spring are fun to catch and good to eat.
“When the dogwood blooms, the suckers are on the riffles.” is an old saying about sucker fishing. In early spring about the time dogwood trees bloom, suckers move up stream from lakes or deeper water onto gravel riffles in the streams to spawn. It's one of the best times to catch these bottom feeding fish.
There are approximately 80 species of suckers. The ones I’m most familiar with are called white suckers.
Apparently the fish is commonly known as a “sucker” due to the flesh papillose (elongated and tube-like) lips that suck up organic matter from the bottom of rivers and streams.
White suckers, can be found in streams and lakes throughout the Midwest as well as in some other parts of the country. It is the most common and easily caught of the sucker family
Suckers are fighters, especially during spring spawn runs, when they congregate in streams. Suckers from lakes try to make their way into streams feeding the lakes. They travel to the streams to spawn.
The spring spawning runs of suckers from larger streams or lakes into small streams signall fishing season is once again underway.
Suckers are bottom feeders and primarily eat invertebrates such as insect larvae, scuds and crayfish, and they can be caught on a variety of worms, and can be caught on most any tackle from cane pole to spinning outfit, to flyrod.
Four-to-six pound test is good for suckers, since they probably will be found in clear water above gravel beds. Fish the bait directly on the bottom with a stationary rig using a sliding sinker, or a drifting rig that allows the bait to move along the bottom with the current.
Whether flyfishing or working with a more traditional rig such as a spinning outfit, you will find them in many locations from large lakes to small trout streams. In small streams, the suckers often are found in slower, deeper holes. However, fish which are actively feeding may be found in the main channel.
Interestingly enough, most good trout streams have sizable sucker populations. They like clear, clean water, and spawn on gravel bottoms. As a youngster, I hiked high into the Rockies and in a valley found dozens of trout in a small stream, but quickly learned they were suckers.
The Kentucky record for a white sucker is 1.63 pounds and date back to 1996 in Slate Creek in Montgomery County. The record for a redhorse sucker is nine-pounds, one-once caught in 2003 in the Rockcastle River.
While many people think suckers are inedible, the sucker actually has a very tasty, sweet meat. The problem is suckers are filled with tiny bones. The secret to preparing them is scoring the fish with a sharp knife all the way down to the skin, cutting the bones as well as the meat.
After scoring, the fish are battered in cornmeal or your favorite batter. When cooked in the hot grease, the smaller bones will dissolve and you will have tender pieces of delicious fish.
Suckers are fun to catch and good to eat. When the dogwood blooms, try your luck for some sucker fishing.
Soc Clay has been a friend for many years, and I’ve always admired his photographic and written outdoor works. Truth is, he has been one of my idols.
I’ve learned a lot from Soc, especially related to outdoor photography. I just wished I had retained 10 percent of what he taught.
Soc, who hails from the hills of Eastern Kentucky near South Shore, has a newly released book. It is named “Bassin Around Kentucky,” and is said to be the most complete bass fishing book ever written about bass fishing in Kentucky.
This treasure of bass stories, bass lore and bass fishing tips, is the results of more than 60 years of devoted bass fishing experience around the commonwealth by Kentucky’s senior outdoor communicator, Soc Clay.
He has fished with hundreds of Kentuckians on lakes, reservoirs, stream and rivers. He’s as handy with a casting or spinning rod, as he is a flyrod. And the application of all three methods to seek out bass from top to bottom at all times of the year.
Soc has been fortunate to fish with some of the best bass anglers who live in Kentucky and the pros who come to fish in Kentucky. Ray Scott, founder of BASS, is a personal friend and both have learned from each over about the bass fishing world and how it applies to both new comers to the sport as well as to seasoned veterans.
Readers will discover master advice from the masters of bass anglers across Kentucky. They will be introduced to legends like Charley and Ernie Taylor of Somerset, of Billy Westmoreland, Fred Martin, Buddy Banks, Tom Applegate, Freddy Hall Barry Dean Martin, Bob Dillow, Bill Sauer and a hundred others too numerous to name.
Soc picks these anglers because they have special ways to catch bass. There’s a story about Billy Phillips, a lady’s shoe salesman catching bass from six inches of water when water tempts are reaching toward 90 degrees. They will read about Ricky Craft a deputy sheriff, who knows how to catch bass in the middle of winter- in shallow water!
Also included is the history of the Kentucky Reels that was invented in Paris (KY) and the development of the casting and spinning reels from the early 1800s until today.
Flyrodders will read about the history of fly-fishing in America- and heck, this is a big book, so they will hear about Soc’s upbringing and how he learned to fish.
The book sells for $20, tax and shipping included. Autographed copies are available from Fern Hollow Publishing, 350 Fern Hollow, South Shore, KY 41175; firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (606) 932-4126. This book will be available at several outlets in Kentucky and can be ordered from Amazon, Kindle and other online outlets
At age 39-plus, Peyton Manning won his second Super Bowl ring. The first one came with the Indianapolis Colts, and this one with the Denver Broncos.
The feat was exceptional for Peyton at his age. In fact it is exceptional for anyone at any age. However, what Peyton did as a 39-year-old battered National Football League player will long be remembered and admired.
So it was with interest recently that some writers brought up Peyton’s name in a comparison with the feat of professional bass angler Rick Clunn, who now is 69 years old and won the recent Bassmaster Elite series.
On Nov. 5, 1976, Clunn, who hails from Missouri, claimed his first B.A.S.S. victory in the Bassmaster Classic on Lake Guntersville.
It was his first giant step toward becoming a true legend in the sport of professional fishing as Peyton has become a living legend in professional football..
Earlier in March of this year, Rick won for the 15th time on the B.A.S.S. circuit — and in many ways, this step might have gone even further toward cementing his legacy.
Clunn, who will turn 70 in July, caught five bass that weighed 19 pounds during Sunday’s championship round and won the Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River in Florida easily with a four-day weight of 81-15. The win was bolstered by a monumental catch of 31-7 during Saturday’s semifinal round.
“I was certainly feeling some pressure after having such a big weight yesterday,” said Clunn, who finished 4 pounds ahead of second-place finisher Greg Hackney (77-15). “Through the years, you just learn to hide it better. Having my son (River) here helped a lot.”
After catching 16-11 and 14-13 the first two days, Clunn was in 31st place and seemed a longshot to make Sunday’s Top 12 championship cut. But the incredible catch of 31-7, which ranked as the third-best five-bass limit of his career, gave him the lead going into the final round with 62-15.
And while Peyton Manning has decided it is time to retire from the batterings in pro football, Clunn has not talked about any plans to hang up his rod on the pro circuit.