Indiana Blue Sucker

I didn't think there were too many benefits to living in Indiana, but after 10 trips to this neat rivetted rock structure just 100 yds below a dam in the White River drainage and patiently waiting week after week for ideal conditions to target Blues... whelp turns out Indiana can't be all that bad. This is the only time and place I will ever say that again probably ever.

When I briefly think about it, Blue Suckers fishing tactics seem no different than targetting other Catostomids; worms on the bottom, lead weight, find a current seam, and wait. The more I came to realize that that's a laughable thought. I couldn't believe how many twists, turns, and lost setups that came out of catching one. I thought it'd be useful to the rest of you all if I shared some info that helped me out in hopes of others finding this friggin awesome fish.

I suppose everything started the last week in March. Down here snow doesn't exist (me previously living in Bemidji, MN; where I swear snow migrates too) and high flowing waters is a constant over this weird extended 6-month fall-type weather. Thankfully, things were heating up quickly and as I watched the nearest USGS temp. gauge reach 54 degrees, I knew Blues would start heading to the dam based on previous ecounters working with the MNDNR. But.. we got dumped on with rain. Moderate to High flooding levels made this dam almost invisible as water was flowing straight over it and the gauge height read 26 feet. The non-game biologist in the state, who keeps tabs on a very small population of Lake Sturgeon in IN that spawn around that time of year, said that the Blues and Sturgeon are probably already there. So there was that. 

Oddly enough, water temps kept rising as the flooding kept constant, making me believe spawning was going on and ending ASAP so I was obviously worried. Thankfully a full week afterwards and the waters fell below 15 feet on the gauge height, allowing me to kayak to the other side of the dam to get away from every cousin who wants their 12 inch "catfish" but holds up a Drum. Oh and also enjoys casting over your bottom rigs every 30 minutes..

The other side had a rock point and a great pool behind it, which made for some great 'sheltering from rapids' habitat for all sorts of fishes. That was where I found my lifer Skipjack Herring (9 of them altogether), buffs, drum, cats, various redhorse, and some spotfin shiners (also a lifer!), but no Blues. I had to resort back to the other side where the shoreline rock pinched the river off to a more concentrated, faster current seam. 

Two more weeks went by and I was dragging on. I could see those buggers  jumping mid-channel almost everyday and I couldn't get close to them without immediately snagging up on a tire-sized boulder. Finally, 3 days ago, the gauge height read 7 feet. Real low water and air temps were cold this week, dropping the water temp back to 55 degrees F. This was my chance. I got out after work and rigged up a High - Low fashioned setup which was basically attaching a 2 ounce-lead weight to 4 inches of monofilament and tying that to the top hole of your swivel that was attached to your mainline while the other swivel hole held your leader and hook. While I snagged and broke off many times, that 4-inch line + weight was the only thing breaking off, saving the rest of my setups and time, besides the occasional hook replacements from snagging rocks. 

After 4 hours, I checked my phone and it read 6:22 PM. I hooked into a River Redhorse which got my hopes up, but nothing yet. My size 10-12 hook and beefy redworm was swinging in the rapid current hung up on a shallow rock for another 20 minutes until bam, with that fast current ripping on my line, it's easy to tell when a fish grabs it. My rod swung back and I set into it. Almost immediately the fish surfaced mid channel. BLUE. I think it's fair when I skrieked a bit, since I knew what it was and the rocks hitting my mono leader made me absolutely paranoid.. I'll never forget a fight like that. This fish just sat mid-current and ripping water like it was just hanging out. While my medium-light setup made it hard to pull in, my buddy Paul S. was the chief of net men and nabbed this sucker for me after about 3 minutes. FINALLY. Long days, many dollars of equipment lost, and plenty of head hair fried off from the sun, but we got 'em. 

Needless to say I had a great day that day and I won't forget that adventure anytime soon. So for me what I learned from all this is to find size 10-12 hooks, a High-Low rig, 2-3 ounce weights, perfect water levels, perfect water temperatures (54-56 F), rocky / bouldery habitat, hook a red worm, and shit ton of patience. I hope it gets easier for those looking for Blues with the info that found me successful! 

I know there are smallmouth Rehorse around here as well.. gotta keep looking















Hoping to find a Black buff around, but I'll take this guy

A monstrosity of a Skip. 18 inches.

The best Skipjack shot i could have ever asked for

My first of two Rivers caught that day!

Nice shot of a tubed-up River getting his thang on

My PB River Redhawse to boot!

What a beautiful net

Many photos were taken...

Just a quick hook shot to show it wasn't a snag-a-roon.

Species List:


RoughFish's picture

Hey Indiana isn't that bad! We have greater fish diversity than many states (including MN) and while the weather is sporadic at best, our open water season is longer. Good job on the blue and rivers, I have already spent 30+ hours this year targeting the river redhorse in their limited range here and am very jealous of yours. I was here the next day after you made these catches and sorted through drum after drum with only Golden redhorse to show. That place eats tackle like no other, and I caught my blue using the same high low rig tactic last year. The water is normally 15 feet higher this time of year.

Graceclaw's picture

Hey, you've caught Blues in 2 states now, all in places nobody had previously scouted or alerted you to. That's primetime roughfishing right there. Sounds like you learned a lot - would you mind maybe taking a picture of the high-low rig and posting it somewhere? Sounds a lot like a 3-way-swivel rig but maybe a little more optimal.

Keep it up and keep the fish flowing, man!

andy's picture

With this catch you have become if not the top one of the top blue sucker anglers I know of.  Thanks for doing the local research and putting in the time time to become successful, it is refreshing to see that beautiful blue sucker success!

You have earned the Golden Fish Award for this catch!



Shovelnoser47's picture

Much appreciated! I will treasure this award forever, along with that Big Blue. I've just been lucky twice to be at the right place at the right time I suppose.

"Just keep fishing." - Someone

Corey's picture

Thanks for posting this - and congrats again!

Dr Flathead's picture

Nice job man!  And appreciate the info. I'm gonna start calling you the Blue Sucker Master. 

FP4LifesDad's picture

Nice work buddy!  Congrats on the great fishing.  I actually have a pic of you with your first Blue in our work/research book with all my notes trying to help Cayden with his goal, we use it to talk to locals when we fish, most people have never heard of them, but we've had several recognize the fish just didn't know what it was!  The hunt continues.  Good luck man and be safe!


Shovelnoser47's picture

Ha welp I'm glad I could help inform others I suppose! Good call on a journal of sorts to keep tabs on 'em. I should really start recording water temps, info., etc. with other species to keep as a log. Thanks man!

"Just keep fishing." - Someone

FP4LifesDad's picture

LOL it's a good thing buddy.  We've been fishing that area for many years and have saved many of them since from the local bowfishers, now that they know what they are, and that they're a threatened species, they leave them alone, so they're actually safer then before. Honestly though our group is the only people that really go out looking for them and I'd help you guys with anything we can, just like I did with the lake whitefish info, not like any of us are going to go keep 100 of them lol!  Stay safe my friend!

Perc30's picture

Must say I'm pretty envious. I've put in about 50 hrs this spring on two Iowa rivers trying a get a Blue. Timed it right on both rivers as I could see some breaking the surface and guys trying for walleye around me snagged a few on accident, but could not manage one. Definitely the most challenging species I've gone after. Could of used a little bit of ur luck to get one!

maurer416's picture

That is so awesome man, they really pile up under there but I really dread going there because of all the snags. I only seem to catch shorthead in the White drainage. Try direct Ohio River tributaries in SE tip of state for Smallmouth redhorse. Hope you enjoy catching all the sweet species we have here in Indiana 

Shovelnoser47's picture

Thanks man I appreciate the Smallmouth Redhorse tip! I have yet to find one anywhere, but I'll be sure to take a certain look down that way. You are definitely right in the diversity department down here, pretty fun stuff being close to so many species.

"Just keep fishing." - Someone

Matt Miller's picture

What a cool species the blue sucker is. You certainly earned that fish. Certainly a fish for the rest of us to dream of. I don't know if I'll ever get the chance to try, but good to know they're out there -- and that anglers are respecting them and pursuing them.

Shovelnoser47's picture

I appreciate the kind words! As always this fish went back in to swim and spawn another day. Hope you can find one yourself one day!

"Just keep fishing." - Someone

Divemaster's picture

Fantastic catch! You just can't beat that feeling when you spend all that time targeting a fish, and are finally rewarded with an awesome specimen.

Tyler W's picture

It gives me hope. I need to go after them since it is apparently possible. 

Eric Kol's picture

I think you haver joined the rarified club of folks who have targeted and caught blues in more than one locality. Excellent information for would be anglers. Thank You. You are the Blue Magician!

Carpy Diem!