White Sucker The white sucker is probably the most common and widely distributed sucker. Its natural range is from northern Canada to Florida, throughout the uplands of eastern North America, and west to the Rockies. While not considered a highly desirable fish, it is a large enough fish to be sought by anglers, often for cut bait. They are potentially an underutilized sport fish, as their flesh has a fine, sweet flavor and it is sometimes sold as “freshwater mullet.”
White suckers are cylindrically shaped. The back and head are an olive-brown color transitioning to a light yellowish hue on the sides and a whitish belly. The lower lip is split into two parts and wider than high. The rounded snout does not extend beyond the fleshy upper lip. Maximum length is about 24 inches and five pounds.
The preferred habitat of white suckers is cool, clear rivers, streams and lakes. However they are tolerant low oxygen and silted waters. Suckers generally feed on the bottom, dining on aquatic plants, algae, and small invertebrates. White suckers are schooling fish and are moderately active in the daytime, but do most of their feeding at sunrise and sunset.
In spring, when water temperatures reach about 50 degrees, white suckers make their spawning runs, or migrations. White suckers lay their eggs on gravel beds in lake and river shallows, generally after dark. Neither parent cares for the eggs or young. Sexual maturity arrives at three to eight years. Life expectancy appears to be about 15 years.