Post date: Friday, September 13, 2013 - 15:22
Updated date: 4/9/20
Sonora Sucker (Gila Sucker) Catostomus insignis


This large sucker of the southwest is at home in the turbid streams of the high desert. This is a sleek, torpedo-shaped fish that grows up to 26 inches in length and 8 pounds in weight. In the words of M. H. "Dutch" Salmon, author and angler of the high desert:

The Sonora Sucker, regardless of his less than attractive mouth (shaped like the end of a garden hose) is for me a more interesting fish. A 20-incher is not unusual; my son, Bud, caught a 26-inch Sonoran Sucker in the summer of 2009. And despite the scavenging mouth this powerful native will chase down a deep, slow-drifting nymph, curl your rod, run your line, and fight you all the way to the bank. He's not protected but he's bony so, like the chub, you let him go.

M. H. "Dutch" Salmon, Flyfisher's Guide to New Mexico


Sonoran Suckers, like most fishes of the harsh desert environment, can't afford to be very picky about what they eat. Any meaty natural bait can tempt them, and they chase small jigs and flies quite actively when you find them in the proper mood. Overall, this is an underappreciated fish that deserves special notice - it's a beautiful and essential component of the great american desert ecosystem.



Sonora suckers live in some of the same streams as Desert suckers, and smaller specimens may be difficult to tell apart.  Look at the lips - Sonoras have plump and fleshy upper and lower lips, while the Desert sucker's upper lip is more of a cartilaginous scraper.

Range Map

Photo Credits:

Surfraider, Angela Palacios/USFWS

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