May 19 2012

Northwoods spring

Published by at 6:22 am under Expeditions and Experiences

Here’s another little update from this spring. Since getting back to the US I’ve been fairly involved at the Teaching Drum Outdoor School as there is a special family year-long program happening here. Also, wild leeks were ready to be harvested and several of us went fishing for suckerfish  during their spawning run. This year turned out to be a particularly good run, and we ended up getting in large quantities over the course of several days.

The picture above shows a  larger size female sucker fish. For the community here, one way of showing our appreciation for these beautiful fish that feed us is to return the first-caught fish unharmed into the water. And, making sure that we don’t cause any unnecessary suffering – fish taken out of the water are immediately killed with a blow to the head.

Sucker fish are bottom feeders that spawn in spring when the water temperature is about 50F (about 10C). They seek out areas with gravel or rock substrate, oftentimes in creeks or rivers, in which case they migrate in big schools which makes it easy to catch them.

In this picture, a landing net is employed to catch spawning suckers. Under certain conditions, catching them with bare hands can also be quite effective.

A mature leek patch. In my opinion, one of the tastiest wild edible plants around here which is also available before most other greens are in season. When broken up and thinly spread, they can dry within a few days of sunshine. If they’re strung individually they can dry even faster though this method is very time-consuming when working with larger amounts.

Spring time in the Northwoods…

On another note, I’ll be in Alaska for the summer and probably won’t get around to write much here during that time…so I’ll probably get back to writing after my return in late summer. Wish you all a nice green season!



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4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Northwoods spring”

  1. Gorges Smytheon 19 May 2012 at 10:27 am

    Since most people consider suckers to be “trash fish,” it would be interesting to know how you use them.

  2. Maton 20 May 2012 at 11:47 pm

    It seems that most folks around here would also say that suckers are no good.
    I’ve had sucker fish once before(fried), and thought it was good food. Too bad that dipnets and hands are illegal to use here. I’ve head that other people who do eat them usually smoke them.

    P.S. Alaska sounds exciting!

  3. Thomason 06 Jun 2012 at 5:38 am

    Hi George,

    yeah I’d say most people here in the northwoods usually won’t eat sucker fish. Some locals either pickle them or smoke them and say that they’re fairly good that way. Personally, I think they’re actually quite tasty – they just have a lot of bones and the flesh tends to fall apart when cooked, so it can be a little tricky to prepare them on an open fire. I’ve eaten them raosted on a skewer by the fire, baken in an oven or fried in a pan, and enjoyed all of it. Hope this helps 🙂

  4. Andyon 07 Sep 2012 at 11:15 am


    Are the leaks also called wild garlic? We call them Ransoms in Northern Ireland.

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