Sucker spearing was a right of passage among my high school friends. I have many great memories wading small creeks and streams with my best friends. We looked forward to this time of the year, it was our kick-off event to the softwater season at those times. Has I look back on those nights I recall some of the my coolest outdoor events. Such has the great vole chase in the thick grass along the bank, or the raccoon that chased us out of a culvert that we where walking through on our knees, or the night we saw a school of American Eels spawning on one of our creeks. I can literally still feel the warm spring night air on my skin when I think about these times.
Sucker spearing is maybe the cheapest outdoor activity I know of. For about 40 bucks you can build yourself a spear, buy some rubber hip boats, and pick up a battery powered head lamp. After you get your gear together it’s time to start scouting out your local creeks and streams. I like to look under over passes and anywhere else the fish can hold up in shade or in deep water. When I find fish I will start downstream of them and walking slowly up stream.
When you spot a fish you want to slide the spear into the water slowly over them. When you are ready, jab the spear firmly into the fish and hold and pin them to the bottom until they calm down. You can either reach down and grab the fish at this point or lift them out of the water on the spear. I like to put the fish on a long 1/8 inch rope stringer or clip stringer and let them float behind me.
Now when your doing these make sure that you look over your handbook closely and make sure you are not on a stream that is closed to spearing. Make sure you observed all laws in regrades to trespassing and don’t walk on private property. This is a ton of fun, and a great way to get some tasty fish for the family. It is fairly common to get 30 to 40 fish in mere hour of wading between two guys Most people smoke or make fish patties out of the suckers, but they are also a great choice for pickling.
The spear needs to be made out of steel and have bards. I find that 4 to 6 inch spears works great on your White suckers, Northern Hognose and smaller Redhorse suckers. If you are on a system that has some larger Redhorse suckers say 3lb and up I would step up to a 8 to 10 inch spear. This larger size spear will also let you go after Carp who also tend to run up these streams in the spring time.
What I look for in a headlamp is a lamp that will cast light over a large area. I found that lamps that do this do not give me much surface glare. It is really hard to see the fish against the bottom when you have a big glare spot right in your eyes when you are looking into the water. Another option might be headlamps that are Red or Green in color. I have a few friends that use them and they have success with them.
How much you want to spend here is totally up to you. I just use the waterfowl hunting waders. But you can use a simple cheap rubber hip boots that you pick up at local box store. Just make sure you have a good heavy lug bottom to the boot, cause sometimes you will have to climb out of stream and the banks can be muddy and slick.
So get out there and enjoy some of those nice spring nights. This is a great activity to also take the kids out to do. They will have a blast looking over your fish and also seeing animals they wouldn’t be able to see during the daytime.