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Becker, George C. / Fishes of Wisconsin
(1983)

Sucker family - catostomidae,   pp. 607-691 ff. PDF (39.5 MB)


Page 687

 
White Sucker   687 
ole," and "Calumet Combo," do justice to its edibility 
(Mattingly 1976). Detracting from the pleasure of eat- 
ing white suckers are the large Y-shaped bones be- 
tween the muscle segments. These may be avoided 
by filleting or by grinding the meat and bones fine 
and fashioning them into fish patties. White suckers 
may also be canned; the canning process softens the 
bones, as it does in canned salmon. 
  Commercial fishermen take white suckers by seines, 
fyke or drop nets, pound nets, gill nets, and trawls. 
The catch is used for both human and animal food, 
much of it for cat and dog food. The white sucker, 
when cooked, can be used as a food supplement with 
the freshwater drum for the domesticated mink (Prie- 
gel 1976). Several years ago, the canning of suckers 
was attempted by a Michigan producer; and al- 
though the canned suckers were delectable, they 
could not compete with the more desirable canned 
salmon (Schneberger 1972c). 
  In Green Bay from 1963 through 1965, suckers (pri- 
marily white suckers) were the third most abundant 
species in the total trawl catch; they occurred in 36% 
of the drags (Reigle 1969a). In the Pensaukee River 
(Oconto County), suckers are exploited heavily by a 
contract fishery. A yearly mean of 158,858 kg (350,217 
lb) was removed from 1967 to 1976 (Magnuson and 
Horrall 1977). (For further information on suckers in 
the commercial fishery of Lake Michigan waters, see 
p. 691). In Lake Superior, white suckers are of little 
commercial importance. During 1970, contract fish- 
ermen removed 241,918 kg (533,328 lb) of suckers 
from the inland waters of Wisconsin, while state 
crews removed 4,158 kg (9,167 lb), for a combined 
total of 246,076 kg (542,495 lb) (Miller 1971). The 
catch consisted mostly of white suckers. 
  The population dynamics of white suckers are not 
always understood. In a northern Wisconsin lake, 
white suckers were numerous over a period of years 
when the panfish populations were abundant. Al- 
though the white sucker population was not ex- 
ploited, it declined just prior to the panfish popula- 
tion decline, and remained low (Kempinger et al. 
1975). In another Wisconsin lake, with a relatively 
fast-growing population of white suckers, the num- 
bers of fish of other species were lowered by re- 
moval. The suckers in the lake grew faster, despite a 
continued rise in their own numbers (Parker 1958). 
  Studies have been made of the removal of white 
suckers from trout streams in southern Wisconsin. In 
a 3-year study in Milner Creek (Grant County), 5,050 
white suckers were removed during the first year, and 
7,700 fish were removed 2 years later; a total of more 
than 499 kg (1,100 lb) of fish were removed. In Octo- 
ber of the last year, C. Brynildson and Truog (1958) 
estimated that 7,411, 13- to 38-cm white suckers still 
remained in the stream. 
  The production of white suckers has been de- 
scribed at length by Dobie et al. (1956), Forney (1957), 
and Schneberger (1972c). Ponds of moderate fertility 
usually produce the most suckers. Where chiron- 
omid larvae are present in the bottom muds, good 
sucker crops may be produced consistently year after 
year. On the other hand, where filamentous algae 
grow over the bottom, sucker production is poor and 
may be reduced to almost zero. 
  The white sucker from Oklahoma to Michigan has 
standing crops averaging 12.2 kg/ha (10.9 lb/acre), 
and ranging from 0.1 to 35.3 kg/ha (0.1 to 31.5 lb/acre) 
(Carlander 1955). 
  Considering its wide distribution, its high num- 
bers, and its delectability, the white sucker is poten- 
tially the most valuable food and sport fish in Wis- 
consin. It is an important and unusually persistent 
resource. All efforts should be directed toward its uti- 
lization, and toward improving its image before 
sportsmen and the general public. The white sucker 
represents a pool of millions of kilograms of valuable 
protein, which can be harvested yearly without de- 
pleting the seed stock. 


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