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Phil Lilley

Sucker Gigging

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They are great to eat if you prepare and cook them right. These guys who gig out of here clean and eat them fresh- sometimes they don't eat till midnight, complete with fried potatos and all.

MDC fisheries have never given any indication such\kers are a "probelm" in Taney. There are years we have a bunch, like now. Some we have very few.

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Are they fit to eat?

I just moved to Nixa (from Jonesboro, by the way...) and found out Nixa has a "Sucker Days" festival every spring. The big thing is the meal of sucker and the fixin's... I plan to find out just how fit they are to eat next spring for sure.

I know my late father-in-law was noted as one of the best sucker grabbers in north Arkansas and there are still several homemade grabbin' hooks at his house. Cindy can't remember eating them, but she remembers going with her dad to take them to all the folks that lived in the area around them.

By the way, Jamie... I don't know about Missouri, but you're in Arkansas where dynamite would be the fishing gear of choice closely followed by a crank telephone.....

Terry

(Arkie on top secret undercover covert operations in the MO Ozarks...)

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For several years, until construction for the landing moved in, I would take several trips to Branson City Park and catch alot of suckers from the little fishing docks. I made several trips with my children, if we found a nice day in the winter. We fished with nightcrawlers and the kids caught some nice sized fish. I remember scoring them, deep frying them, and with a little tartar sauce, I would eat them like a candy bar while I watched the Super Bowl.

I haven't been back down there since construction started but I assume those little fishing docks are gone by now. Does anybody know where there any other public docks are on Taney where I can catch suckers?

Thanks.....Don

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Phil,

I talked with Bill Butts last night here at the shop and we got talking about all the suckers up there in the trophy area. I told him that I thought the fishing has been kind of poor since the influx of the suckers. Bill agreed with me on that he too thinks that there can be so many suckers in the area that they are taking the trouts food source and the trout will vacate untill the suckers retreat. Bill also said that there was a study done way back when like the mid to late 80's. I think that might have been the time that you were on the committe for friends of the stream. I may be wrong about the name. I just did not want people to think I was crazy for thinking this that's why I took so long to bring it up. If you would happen to know anything about this could you let us all know.

Michael

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There was a study done by the MDC back in the 80's that said sucker compete directly with trout by feeding on scuds, worms, and various other kinds of bottom dwelling bugs or organic material. Makes sence to me that the trout would leave when an area is overwhelmed by suckers.

Sucker Showdown at Taneycomo

by William Anderson, photography by Cliff White

White suckers are a bonus from this cold water fishery.

Lake Taneycomo is well known for its rainbow and brown trout. It is not so well known for its white suckers. White suckers, a species native to the White River, have always lived in Lake Taneycomo, historically in moderate numbers.

In the late 1980s the numbers of white suckers increased dramatically and, at times, exceeded the number of rainbow and brown trout captured during population surveys conducted by the Conservation Department.

Fisheries biologists were concerned about this abrupt increase in the white sucker population. They believed that competition between white suckers and trout for invertebrate organisms that comprised the bulk of the trout diet might cause a decline in the trout fishery.

Biologists went so far as to remove white suckers from the lake in an attempt to reduce their numbers. Conservation Department staff captured thousands of the fish and removed them without a detectable effect on the population.

Further research indicated that while there was direct competition between white suckers and trout for food items, it was not as serious as first thought. White suckers, being indiscriminant bottom feeders, consumed a lot of filamentous algae and a number of smaller invertebrate organisms. Trout, being sight feeders, fed on larger, free swimming invertebrate organisms, primarily sow bugs and amphipods or freshwater shrimp. The numbers of white suckers in Lake Taneycomo have gradually declined in recent years and in population surveys, they are once again less abundant than trout and competition is less of a concern.

The majority of suckers harvested in Missouri are taken by snagging (or grabbing) and gigging. Both methods are time-honored Ozarks traditions. Sucker grabbing is at its best in the spring when these fish move into shallow gravel areas to spawn. It is not uncommon for hundreds of suckers to congregate in a relatively small area.

White suckers migrate up Roark and Bull creeks from Lake Taneycomo each spring. Because of their affinity for cold water, they make these runs earlier than other sucker species. Local residents take advantage of the early white sucker spawning run to harvest these fish prior to the later spawning migrations of the redhorse sucker species.

White suckers are still abundant in Lake Taneycomo. Knowledgeable anglers can take advantage of their early spawning run for some fast and furious sucker grabbing. During the balance of the year anglers can catch these fish by pole and line using natural or prepared baits. Either method of harvest is a lot of fun and provides excellent food when the fish are properly prepared.

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