The sucker is a bottom-feeding fish with a small, round mouth. Suckers are widely distributed and many different varieties of suckers exist. All suckers are capable of being caught with homemade bait that resembles bait used for catfish. The smelly bait attracts the fish and the position of the bait on the bottom of the lake or river catches the fish. Suckers are often caught by accident while fishing on the bottom and many anglers save and freeze the sucker meat to use as bait for muskie, pike and lake trout.
Dough balls are easy to make and work well for suckers. Fill a bowl with a corn-based cereal and cover the cereal with water. Work the mixture with a spoon until it turns to mush. Add garlic powder to the bowl and stir in flour until it turns into a doughy consistency. Store the dough in a cold refrigerator until the fishing trip. Mold small balls of dough on a bait hook and drop the bait to the bottom for suckers.
Suckers feed on a variety of insects and worms are effective for catching the fish. Dig in a patch of grass or dirt at night to locate worms. Store the worms in a coffee can with dirt and use a short, half worm on the hook for suckers. Using a full-size worm often leads to missed strikes. The short worm ensures the entire hook enters the sucker's mouth.
Sucker meat is used to catch the species that prey on suckers but it also works for catching more suckers. Cut a small chunk of sucker meat and penetrate the hook through the meat two times. Leave a short three-inch piece of meat trailing off the hook and bounce it on the bottom to target large suckers. Suckers grow to several pounds and will inhale a moderately large piece of meat. Use larger pieces to target more predatory game-fish species.
Suckers are not selective feeders and will eat a variety of homemade and store-bought baits. The fish are caught on small flies, corn kernels, bread and almost any food source small enough to enter their mouths. The most difficult aspect of sucker fishing is placing the food in front of the fish. Suckers comb the bottom of lakes and rivers and do not move far to chase a food source. You must locate a school of suckers to increase the chances of crossing paths with a mouth and hooking a fish.
Zach Lazzari is a freelance outdoor writer specializing in hunting, fly fishing and the general outdoors. He guided fly fishing trips for 10 years in Colorado, Alaska, Montana and Patagonia-Chile. Zach lives in Montana and splits time between the river and keyboard.