If you have ever spent any time on a stream in the spring chasing smelt runs, the presence of mature suckers is very obvious. Unlike trout which are fall spawners, suckers spawn in the spring just after the smelt spawn when the water temps begin to creep up between 40-50 degrees. The first to spawn is the longnose sucker which is 6-12″ The larger common suckers grow to be 20 ” or more and spawn later when water temperature approaches 50 degrees. The sucker spawn can occur shortly after iceout until late in May.
A few years ago I was guiding some customers who were catching a good number of brookies. When I remove a fly from a fish I often have a peek in its mouth to see if there are any nymphs present. There is always something to learn. On this occasion trout were spewing sucker eggs. As I looked more intently into the river I could see a good number of big suckers. The trout were just downstream gobbling up their eggs. I did a bit of research and the following spring started fishing sucker egg patterns with great success.
Fishing them is easy. On a 9′ – 4X leader tie on one of the patterns. At the bend of the hook attach an 18″ piece of 4X tippet using an improved cinch knot. To the end of this tie on one of the lighter colored patterns. Between the two place a small to medium size split shot. Above the flies place the strike indicator of your choice. The length of the leader below the indicator and the size of the split shot depend on water depth and current. The object is to bounce your flies as close to the bottom as possible, so adjust the leader length and shot size accordingly. Try to work the water over as thoroughly as possible casting upstream and dead drifting the flies down until they swing then repeat the procedure along another line. Suckers spawn in shallow, gravel areas. The eggs are spread about and adhere to the bottom. Remember the eggs will remain along the bottom for up to 14 days after the suckers have spawned, them they hatch and this game ends until another season.
If you want to be ready for the Sucker Spawn we offer a nice selection at our On-Line Catalog. They come pack in a Clear-Top Riffle Foam Case.