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Becker, George C. / Fishes of Wisconsin

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

Page 691

Longnose Sucker   691 
longnose sucker is associated with these species: 
brown trout, coho salmon, alewife, rainbow smelt, 
shortnose gar, lake sturgeon, white sucker, burbot, 
gizzard shad, northern pike, common carp, common 
shiner, spottail shiner, black bullhead, white bass, 
smallmouth bass, rock bass, trout-perch, walleye, 
sauger, and yellow perch. 
Young longnose suckers probably fall prey to a wide 
variety of predacious fishes and fish-eating birds 
(Scott and Crossman 1973). Even large longnose 
suckers are taken by northern pike. Adult longnose 
suckers in spawning streams are probably taken by 
bear, by other mammals, and by ospreys and eagles. 
  The longnose sucker has been criticized in the past 
as a competitor with sport fish for space and food 
(Everhart and Seaman 1971, Scott 1967). Some re- 
searchers, however, feel that its value as a forage fish 
may outweigh its negative values as a competitor for 
food (Baxter and Simon 1970). Brown (1971), recog- 
nizing the problem, stated that the "true ecological 
relationship of suckers and game fishes is poorly 
understood but it may be that suckers are important 
to, or compatible with, good game fish populations 
at least in some instances." 
  The longnose sucker has contributed to commer- 
cial fish production in Lakes Superior and Michigan. 
Unfortunately, longnose suckers, white suckers, and 
redhorses (Moxostoma spp.) are categorized together 
in the statistics on yearly catches. In the Lake Supe- 
rior catch, the longnose sucker is the most abundant 
sucker, followed by the white sucker and the red- 
horses. In Lake Michigan, the white sucker is most 
abundant, followed by the longnose sucker and the 
  Sucker production in the Wisconsin waters of Lake 
Michigan in 1974 was 141,390 kg (311,700 lb), which 
was valued at $8,787; this was a decrease of 62,500 
kg (137,803 lb) from the 1973 harvest. The waters of 
Green Bay, which are the principal areas of sucker 
production, account for 85% of the harvest. Most 
suckers are taken incidentally to the perch, white- 
fish, and alewife fishery (Wis. Dep. Nat. Resour. 
  The production of suckers in the Great Lakes has 
been so strongly dependent on market demand that 
the catch figures are generally not useful as indices 
of abundance. It appears likely, however, that the se- 
vere drop in production which began in 1950 in Lake 
Michigan was at least partly a result of decreased 
sucker abundance caused by sea lamprey predation 
(Wells and McLain 1973). After the lamprey had dec- 
imated the lake trout populations, it turned to other 
species, including the suckers. The increase in sucker 
production in 1969-1970 might have been related to 
decreased sea lamprey predation following the im- 
plementation of a lamprey control program, and to 
an increase in the lake trout population. The same 
authors have suggested that the abundance of suck- 
ers may have declined to some extent over the years, 
particularly in Green Bay, as a result of the degrada- 
tion of spawning streams. 
  In Lake Superior, longnose sucker populations are 
at high levels, with strong spawning runs and consis- 
tent year class strengths. Still, commercial produc- 
tion is limited because of poor market conditions. 
The sucker species could provide substantially more 
commercial production in Lake Superior than the 
24,000 kg (53,000 lb) reported in 1974, which was val- 
ued at $2,291 (Wis. Dep. Nat. Resour. 1976c). 
  In the Great Lakes region, the longnose sucker sel- 
dom bites on a baited hook. It is usually taken 
by sportsmen by spearing or snagging during the 
spawning migration. 
   The flesh of the longnose sucker is firm, white, 
 flaky, and sweet, and is superior to that of the white 
 sucker. It is delicious when smoked; according to 
 Eddy and Underhill (1974), "even the most discrimi- 
 nating gourmet would have difficulty distinguishing 
 it from more exotic smoked fish." 

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