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Spawning Suckers and Sucker Spawn - Some Thoughts and Observations
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White suckers are in full spawning mode right now here in southcentral PA. I'm seeing them almost everywhere I look in both trout streams and warm water creeks - typically in a riffle section with depths of about a foot. I always enjoy seeing suckers color up with their big black lateral stripe - it's a reminder that spring has sprung.
Anyway, I've spent some time lately watching this annual phenomenon. In most cases, but not all, I have seen trout working these suckers. Usually, it's a wild brown trout and they seem to like to lay up about 4 to 10 feet downstream of the pod of suckers. Often, however, they'll be a trout right up in the swirling mass of suckers. If you get close to them, you'll often see the trout spook right out of the pod (the suckers are slower to spook - distracted no doubt). These trout, if you can present to them, are suckers for sucker spawn.....quite naturally. These trout, as I've watched them lately, seem pretty subtle about their feeding but they can be seen eating from the drift if you watch carefully. Perhaps they may also be opportunistically feeding on nymphs dislodged from the substrate by the activity of the suckers.
The suckers themselves don't cut redds like trout or bass do, but rather disperse their eggs/milt over gravel with current. I suspect that much of the actual egg/milt deposition probably occurs at nighttime but I'm not really sure. Certainly, trout are picking their eggs during the daytime. I'm still trying to figure this out.
As you know, FFers have long matched this "hatch" with various sucker spawn flies, most of which are tied in white or cream colors. Certainly, these colors have worked well for me in the past.
During one of my recent sucker watching episodes, I got a handle on a large, egg laden female and stripped some of her eggs. As can be seen, they are bright yellow - almost a deep lemon color with just a faint touch of blood infused through the eggs, which likely explains the popularity of red thread for sucker spawn flies. The eggs are small, about half the size of BBs. In the future, you might consider bright yellow for your sucker spawn flies rather than white.
Also, I've noted that most groups of suckers have some casualties from the rigors of spawning and these dead fish contribute to the ecosystem. The pic below shows a big snapper enjoying the feast of dead fish. The other photo of the suckers actually shows a trout in the upper right corner although this is hard to discern due to the poor photo quality (sorry for the yellowish pics - they were taken by aiming my camera through my yellow polarized sunglasses).
Keep your eyes out these days for spawning suckers - it's a rite of spring and can make for some good trout catching too.

Attach file:



jpg  Suckers1.jpg (67.50 KB)
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jpg  Suckers2.jpg (50.91 KB)
26_5170999c5dc7b.jpg 319X211 px

jpg  Suckers3.jpg (55.33 KB)
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Posted on: 2013/4/18 21:11

Edited by Fishidiot on 2013/4/18 22:38:43


Re: Spawning Suckers and Sucker Spawn - Some Thoughts and Observations

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Flyfishers Paradise sells a yarn for tying sucker spawn that is very close to that color. The color is called "gold."

Posted on: 2013/4/18 21:44


Re: Spawning Suckers and Sucker Spawn - Some Thoughts and Observations

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Great information on an interesting topic. I have done real well fishing sucker spawn on the Tully over the past few years. Anybody who fishes the Tully knows that it is loaded with suckers. I have witnessed many trout working the spawning suckers. One thing I never understood was that almost every trout that I caught on the cream colored sucker spawn were rainbows. If I wanted to catch some brownies all I had to do was switch to blue. Never figured it out.

Posted on: 2013/4/18 21:51


Re: Spawning Suckers and Sucker Spawn - Some Thoughts and Observations
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Quote:

dc410 wrote:
One thing I never understood was that almost every trout that I caught on the cream colored sucker spawn were rainbows. If I wanted to catch some brownies all I had to do was switch to blue. Never figured it out.


Interesting!
There are certainly some aspects of spawning suckers that certainly have me scratching my head too. With respect to the blue vs white for browns and rainbows......although the eggs appear bright yellow to us (and this is the color that works best for me for both trout species), I wonder if browns and bows perceive the spawn to be different colors(?).
Hhmmm...

Posted on: 2013/4/18 22:51


Re: Spawning Suckers and Sucker Spawn - Some Thoughts and Observations

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2013/2/13 1:41
From Indiana Co., PA
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Caught my biggest golden rainbow on a sucker spawn, well broke him off on.a peach ss then went after him again the next day he ate a white and yellow scrambled egg, I know a lot of you don't like stockies but I had to work that fish for 13 hours to catch him... I'm going to pit a thread up with pics soon

Posted on: 2013/4/18 22:54


Re: Spawning Suckers and Sucker Spawn - Some Thoughts and Observations

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From South Central PA
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Great post.

I have hovered over pods of suckers on small wild brown trout streamsd during Spring, inching slowly closer and closer. You can generally count on a brown eventually bolting for cover, though in an unusually confused way, I guess because they had to find the cover since they were following the suckers as opposed to knowing where to go in their home territory.

Posted on: 2013/4/19 0:01


Re: Spawning Suckers and Sucker Spawn - Some Thoughts and Observations

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From Luzerne County, PA
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Saw some today in the riffles in the Lackawanna River

Posted on: 2013/4/19 0:31


Re: Spawning Suckers and Sucker Spawn - Some Thoughts and Observations

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Can the suckers be caught or are they too preoccupied to bother wanting to eat now.

Posted on: 2013/4/19 4:19


Re: Spawning Suckers and Sucker Spawn - Some Thoughts and Observations

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Fantastic report FI, lots of good info in there. Thanks for putting it together.

Posted on: 2013/4/19 6:10
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Re: Spawning Suckers and Sucker Spawn - Some Thoughts and Observations

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This is what I use for sucker spawn in April Dave. It matches the color great and works well. Everything in the stream hits it. Yesterday on the PA tribs I caught steelhead, smallies, and stocker browns swinging this through runs. A few folks were surprised I caught smallies on it. The reality is, every fish in the creek is looking for an easy high protien meal. All fish will eat eggs, we just forget that sometimes. I agree with you, in April, a big part of matching the hatch is understanding the eggs drifting through the water. Good stuff!

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jpg  IMAG1207-1.jpg (122.61 KB)
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Posted on: 2013/4/19 7:02
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Re: Spawning Suckers and Sucker Spawn - Some Thoughts and Observations

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FFP recently added a video tying the fly. It's simple, but those starting out might find it helpful.
The material is called gold sparkle yarn for those who'd like to order it on-line.
The yarn is useful for other applications too (they have many colors)

Posted on: 2013/4/19 7:23


Re: Spawning Suckers and Sucker Spawn - Some Thoughts and Observations
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Quote:

PatrickC wrote:
This is what I use for sucker spawn in April Dave. It matches the color great and works well. Everything in the stream hits it. Yesterday on the PA tribs I caught steelhead, smallies, and stocker browns swinging this through runs. A few folks were surprised I caught smallies on it. The reality is, every fish in the creek is looking for an easy high protien meal. All fish will eat eggs, we just forget that sometimes. I agree with you, in April, a big part of matching the hatch is understanding the eggs drifting through the water. Good stuff!


Neat. I've never personally seen bass feeding on sucker spawn but I suppose it makes sense as they're opportunistic too. The soon to follow YOY suckers, I have no doubt, are a big food source for bass in streams. I'd imagine that sunfish and carp would chow down on sucker eggs too. Sometimes muskies will move up small tributary streams this time of year as well....although they're not after the eggs. (Cue the big "exhausted sucker" pattern)

That material looks excellent. I usually use a wool blend that gets scruffy and makes a nice halo effect in the water. However, the eggs themselves have a noticeable glint to them under bright light and a flashy material like yours ought to nail this glinting egg effect.

Posted on: 2013/4/19 21:55

Edited by Fishidiot on 2013/4/19 22:14:48


Re: Spawning Suckers and Sucker Spawn - Some Thoughts and Observations
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Quote:

caveman wrote:
Can the suckers be caught or are they too preoccupied to bother wanting to eat now.


They can be caught on nymphs this time of year although I usually get 'em high sticking a nymph in deeper runs while targeting trout. In my experience, suckers that are actually spawning don't usually seem to want to eat a nymph (they do get foul hooked easily). I have drifted sucker spawn flies through dense groups of suckers and they don't touch it but that trout in the mob often finds the fly.

Posted on: 2013/4/19 22:20


Re: Spawning Suckers and Sucker Spawn - Some Thoughts and Observations

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I'm a big fan of this Dyed Pearl Diamond Braid for sucker spawn because it's translucent as well, just like the eggs in your hand in the photo.

Posted on: 2013/4/19 22:24
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Re: Spawning Suckers and Sucker Spawn - Some Thoughts and Observations

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While most people tie and fish sucker spawn patterns (multible egg look) they actually drift as a single egg scattering across the bottom. trout will lay back and root for eggs along with picking them off. Seems a single egg would work better than a multible humped fly. Have also seen over the years observing that they can be yellow as in the picture to a creamy color.


Posted on: 2013/4/20 6:25
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