Qullbacks and redhorses tipping/rolling sideways as they feed

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Gunnar
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Qullbacks and redhorses tipping/rolling sideways as they feed

Spent half the day yesterday enjoying temps in the mid-80s (on March 18th!) by fishing my favorite sucker creek. Watched gangs of whites in full spawning racing stripes, but couldn't get a bite. Saw hogsuckers, but couldn't get bait or flies to their spot at the top of a waterfall where they hide under a ledge with the water rushing over them.

Moved to a different location a few miles downstream where I could see tons of redhorse (all or mostly shortheads) and quillbacks feeding and relaxing. Spent hours trying to get them to bite before finally connecting witht the biggest shorthead I've ever seen. My two hands couldn barely touch around its girth, and it was long and heavy. Couldn't find tape measure or scale in my bag!

Anyway... The water was ultra clear and only 1/2-2 feet deep. I watched the quills and shortheads for hours from a hiding place only a few feet away. Both were doing what I've previously seen quillbacks do: tipping to the side almost 90 degrees, light flashing off the upturned side. Never really thought about why they would do it. Thought it was some quirk of quillback feeding behavior and was thankful as it's been a way to find quillbacks when I couldn't actually see them: the flashes of silver told me where they were and what they were doing. Didn't help me catch them, but still a cool indicator.

Last night the shortheads and quills were both doing it. A lot. And watching them from so close up, it looked to me like they were trying to get a better look at something on the bottom, either looking for food or checking to see if something actually was food.

Curious if this is a thing everyone sees all the time, what other theories or definitively established reasons there are to explain it, and what others think it tells us about tactics we could use to exploit it (assuming it is sucker-specific sight-feeding).

I'm going to try to get some video underwater next time to see what they're doing immediately before and after tipping. Probably won't work, but worth a try.

kernel j
 

 

Are you speaking of this type of behavior?

 

[IMG]http://i977.photobucket.com/albums/ae254/kernelj/2012/feedflash.jpg[/IMG]

 

If so, it's what they all do when scrbbing around the side, near underside of rocks and other structures.  Good way to spot suckers.

 

Occasionally, they "zoom" against stuff as if they are trying to rid their bodies of a parasite or fish leech.  That'll create a flash as well, but it's a very quick one with alot of movement.  I interpret the lingering or flickering flashes seen in a local area to feeding as describe above and seen in the pic.

 

(I'll joyfully shit myself if this post actually works, but hey....at least I got in!)

kernel j
comment

 

Are you speaking of this type of behavior?

 

[IMG]http://i977.photobucket.com/albums/ae254/kernelj/2012/feedflash.jpg[/IMG]

 

If so, it's what they all do when scrbbing around the side, near underside of rocks and other structures.  Good way to spot suckers.

 

Occasionally, they "zoom" against stuff as if they are trying to rid their bodies of a parasite or fish leech.  That'll create a flash as well, but it's a very quick one with alot of movement.  I interpret the lingering or flickering flashes seen in a local area to feeding as describe above and seen in the pic.

Corey
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Gunnar
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Hadn't thought of that.

Hadn't thought of that.

I think I've watched it on sandy bottoms where there's nothing with sides to scrub, but maybe I just couldn't see the rocks or whatever.

Thanks.

 

Redhorse ID cheatsheets, gars, suckers: moxostoma.com


2019: 16 days fishing 25 species 7 lifers. 2018: 39/40/5 2017: 49/52/14

SK Justin
SK Justin's picture
I've noticed shortheads do

I've noticed shortheads do that on clean sand bottoms, as well as against logs, rocks, or clumps of whatever... I've also seen them feed on their sides against a structure and almost  upside down on the underside of brush. 

This behaviour has definitely helped to spot fish that would have gone otherwise unnoticed. Like yesterday, I took a 21" shortie that revealed itself after feeding sideways on a clump of mud/weeds.

 

Tyler W
Sucker Sight

I have watched suckers turn almost upside down while grazing on a rock. That can be pretty cool. They seem to hold their position in the current perfectly, but rotate in place to reach all the bugs in the hard to reach spots. 

And I have also seen the "back scratch" motion of rubbing against the bottom. But, I don't think that suckers would need to turn sideways to examine something on the bottom. If a potential food item was holding still on the bottom (and was in a position where they couldn't see it while right side up) I think they would just taste it with their lips. And, if they need to turn sideways to see all their food before eating it, they would have already gone extinct. 

A third option is that the flashing and darting around is aggresion/ terretoriality towards other members of the species. Tis the season. 

Gunnar
Gunnar's picture
I didn't mean they always had

I didn't mean they always had to look at the food, just that in some cases perhaps they did look at/for it. And now that I think about it, they were still doing it when it was almost totally dark, so probably not able to see much on the dark bottom.

 

Redhorse ID cheatsheets, gars, suckers: moxostoma.com


2019: 16 days fishing 25 species 7 lifers. 2018: 39/40/5 2017: 49/52/14

J Dunfee
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I use the flashes to look for

I use the flashes to look for suckers in new waters. Particularly right around me, where there's a lot of mud and silt, and the water's not always too clear.. Tyler, last year, I believe, I saw what was most likely a large Smallmouth(coulda been a river, I was observing from about 20 feet up and 15 feet upstream) completely upside down feeding off of a logjam. Was pretty cool, first time I ever saw that. 

Jknuth
Jknuth's picture
You see the upside down

You see the upside down feeding alot in the rocks along the piers in Lake Michigan. 
its very very strange.