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Family: Catostomidae
The Suckers 

The upper French Broad river in Transylvania county contains several species of suckers in the family Catostamotidae, including  the northern hogsucker, white sucker, golden redhorse, silver redhorse, black redhorse, smallmouth redhorse, black buffalo, and smallmouth buffalo. Suckers are bottom feeders and they use their characteristic downward facing mouths to sift through the sediment and cobble for small invertebrates, like snails and insects, and even feed on drifting invertebrates. They are one of our larger species of fish and can often be seen schooling in large groups with game fish such as trout and bass, especially during spawning season. 

There are several misconceptions about sucker fish that I wish to address. First, many folks think they thrive in warmer muddy water, but they need clean water with clean substrate especially for spawning in the spring. Another misconception is that suckers compete with game fishes such as trout and bass. This is completely wrong! Sucker feed primarily on small macroinvertebrates (insects, snails, worms, etc.). Although our brook and rainbows primarily feed on invertebrates as well, it is safe to say that there are literally billions and billions of insects in our county that either live in our streams and rivers (at least during part of their life-cycle), emerge from our streams and return to lay eggs, or simply fall into our streams and rivers. There is plenty of food to go around. Finally, the big misconception is that suckers are trash fish, and are unpalatable, too boney, inedible. You can fry them, smoke them, make fish jerky, can them like tuna using a pressure cooker, grill them, make fish cakes, etc, etc.There are numerous examples of sucker recipes and descriptions on taste, texture, and historical uses. The following links will provide more information on fishing for redhorse suckers, identification of our three redhorses (black, golden, and silver), recipes for cooking redhorse suckers, stories, and other bits of information and history. 

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