"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Thoughts Of Sucker Fishing 
Copyright © 2009 by Bill Scifres

Streams are falling to winter normal levels and most are clear as the proverbial bell. It is sucker fishing time. Incidentally, there are more ways, it seems, to take suckers, than there are Heinz Soups.

I have not had that first report that indicates suckers are headed for spawning   However, this is as sure a thing as any natural phenomenon, and in the meantime the hook and line angling will come into vogue.

It is difficult to say where and when you may find suckers, but their spring spawning runs get the credit for this activity. The species sometimes referred to as the black sucker -- is really a redhorse -- goes to gravel and sand bottom rifles (rapids) on nearly all mid-sized streams where females spew out their eggs. Redhorse are believed to spawn in much the same manner, but I have also heard that males may make rudimentary nests on sandy bottoms.

Both species are more apt to frequent streams, but they also occur in some lakes. In some lakes in other states trapping suckers is legal to curb their dominance of other fish species.

Although suckers are taken in many ways as the spring progresses, the time is ripe now for hook-and-line fishing. Baits may fall into many categories, but my favorites are garden worms and bee moth larva. The latter will require a smaller hook. I use no bobber and just enough wrap-on sinker to take my offering to a sandy bottom near a creek channel.

This is up-and-down fishing with the bait touching the sandy bottom where suckers feed. The bite is not a smashing strike. The sucker, as its name suggests, pulls the bait it into its mouth and pressure is felt. Actually, the best indicator that you have a hook-up is the line moving slowly though the water at the surface.

The sucker is a very good fish on the table, but the flesh is full of needle-like bones. To eliminate the bone, the fish should be scaled, the filets cut away. Place scaled filets-down on a cutting board, and score them crosswise about ever three-sixteenths of an inch. Score cuts go almost to the skin, but not quite that deep in the flesh.

I then dredge the filets (liberally salt and peppered) in a mix of corn meal and flour, and place them skin-side down on a cookie sheet, to freeze.  Filets are then stored frozen in plastic bags, separated by wax paper. To fry filets simply place them in bubbling cooking oil and deep fry them until they float.

Canned suckers also make good snacks with crackers or deep fried fish cakes, thin and brown.

As spring progresses we will address other methods of taking suckers . . . a rough fish.

Other sucker “fishing” methods will be covered as they approach. 

ICE PROBLEM -- In the next month or so may injuries caused by falls on ice may rival all other causes for  unfortunate missteps, but I have discovered something new in solid footing--especially at locations in the vicinity of home.

My little scheme is not a really an outdoorsy thing, but with caution -- and knowing the propensity of sheet ice -- it could save many a broken bone or a badly bruised frame. And it may help your lawn instead of harming it.

It is simple. Rock salt is commonly used to render icy surfaces less slick. But I keep a two-pound coffee can of grass seed handy, and when winter lays down sheet ice on my danger areas, I douse it with handfuls of seed. Some use sand, too, but this can be messy.

With this treatment, one still must move cautiously, and realize that grass seed does little to melt ice. Still, it will help you live with the ice, not to mention help you grow grass . . . not kill it.

Grass seed may be tracked into houses a bit more than salt, but a good vacuum picks up both pretty well.

Grass seed may be a bit more expensive than salt, too.

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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