A Change in Weather Doesn’t Hinder A New Catch

by | Aug 24, 2023 | fly fishing for suckers | 3 comments

Aug 22-24, 2023


I’ve fished an insane amount this summer and have a packed fishing schedule the next three months that includes two trips to Canada starting next Tuesday, Mexico in October and Borneo in November/December.  Surely, this week I’d buckle down and catch up on work.  Perhaps life?  But then the forecast came.  A serious heat wave with temps Wednesday predicted to hit 94°.


August 22 

Granny-WisconsinWe have no air-condition in our cozy Hayward, WI house so being home didn’t sound enjoyable.  During the last heatwave our indoor temp reached 87° and despite being terrific training for my next visit to Cameroon, it wasn’t fun.  Wisely, I bagged responsibility (again) and Granny and I left at 3 PM Tuesday and began a three day, two night float trip in the blue bathtub on a cool flowing river where we could swim every hour and sight nymph to giant funny-mouthed redhorse suckers on fly again.


Canada-smokeIt wasn’t exactly as hot as forecasted when we pushed off on Tuesday.  The Great Lakes Region was caught in the Canada forest fire smoke jet stream.  Its rarely spoken of but thick smoke blocks the sun and lowers predicted temperatures.  In fact, immense amounts of smoke particles create denser clouds that hold five times as many water droplets as clouds not influenced by smoke.  When we left civilization it was cool and dark – more like the lighting of 8 PM.  Nothing like 3 PM on a summer day.


river-tripWe’d planned to relax.  I make fun of myself not getting my work done but the truth is I’ve been hard at it in the wee hours and again late at night.  I have my productive times that included early Tuesday.  I was tired and day one wasn’t about fishing as much as it was kicking back, enjoying rowing through a few shallow rapids and drinking a couple Leinenkugel’s.  It was a beautiful three hour float before we pulled off the river and set up an amazing camp.  Granny made pulled pork with potato salad for dinner – delicious!


August 23

fishingOther than a barred owl that visited camp around 2 AM it was a quiet night.  That’s a good thing when you’re camped in bear country.  I pressed coffee early and we relaxed around camp waiting for the sun to poke out and warm things up.  A family of whitetails snuck down through the thick forest for a drink.  The skies were gray again from the smoke and a rainy mist started.  We packed up our tent and gear in the dry bags quick and stared at the sky.  Where the heck was this hot sun and swimming weather?


float-fishingPlain and simple, the hot weather never came today.  A mix of thick clouds and smoke dominated the scene above us all the way until 5 PM.  In order to fly fish for redhorse you need to see them and even with my sunrise silver mirror lens Costa’s, seeing well enough to guide a nymph to a sucker was near impossible.  Our catch for the entire day were a mere couple of smallmouth bass and we lost a small walleye.  It should be mentioned the walleye appeared to be rising.


We pulled into the exact camp we stayed at last month at 6 PM.  There was no sense in fishing.  We set up the tent and grill and Yeti chairs.  Granny went as far as to get out her book.  Once all settled a miracle for the day broke through.  Sun!


relaxingThe thing I like about this camp is that the river moves slow here.  Going out for an evening fish is an option.  While Granny read, I took advantage of the sun and did a little workout.  I rowed my way upstream for 20 minutes.  I probably made it up river three turns or ¼ a mile.  I was hot after that and took a nice evening swim.  Then I cracked a New Glarus and stood in the bow of my boat slowly drifting down.  I had my 6-weight in hand with two nymphs.  I could see a few redhorse.  Not a ton but a few milling on the sand here and there.


silver-redhorseLaugh as you will, but redhorse fishing is similar to bonefishing.  Bonefish mill around the sand looking for crabs and shrimp.  Suckers look for clams, snails, crayfish and nymphs.  They both have mouths designed for feeding off the bottom.  The only real difference is that bonefish are a heck of a lot easier to catch.  I made numerous presentations during my drift but other than a non-aggressive follow, the redhorse were giving me the fin.


silver-redhorse30 minutes into my lovely evening I popped around the last corner and could see Granny in her chair in the water.  Though it was 7:30 PM, the breakthrough of sunshine made things the warmest all day.  In order not to end my evening quest too soon, I dropped anchor.  There were two solid redhorse feeding on the sand of an inside turn.  Once my anchor rope cleared and the boat swerved I wasn’t at the best angle to cast.  I tried anyhow and my flies sank to the sand three feet above the lower fish.  The splat of my flies actually scared away the upper one.  I had one chance.


sucker-fishAll suckers have good eyes.  But they don’t seem to be watching for prey as much as they are predators.  Here there are lots ranging from eagles and osprey to otters.  The biggest fear however for any fish here is hands down musky and pike.  But the particular redhorse I was targeting was large enough to not be as concerned about all the dangers.  And when he saw my nymph tumbling along the sand he ran it down.  Redhorse on!


dorsal-finWith my anchor out I was immediately handy capped to do battle.  Redhorse fight hard and this boy smoked me downstream.  If I could have I’d have pulled in my anchor and followed.  I was near my backing knot when he stopped and I eased him back my way.  Often when you pull a heavy fish up current the fly pulls but sucker lips are thick and strong.  I knew as long as I patiently reeled at a steady pace I’d be good.  There were a few more hectic runs but eventually I had him at boat side and I scooped him up with my net.


Currier-flyfishingGranny was up and excited.  I held the redhorse in the water as I lifted my anchor and I rowed into camp.  The lighting was gorgeous and Granny flicked off shots.  I was most certain I had my second silver redhorse but to be sure I took a good photo of the lips, the dorsal and tail fins and last a photo of the fish so that you can count the scales down the lateral line.  I’ve gone down the rabbit hole studying these beautiful natives several times this summer on the internet.  Silver redhorse have a slightly convex dorsal with 15+ rays, 40-42 scales on the lateral line and a dark tail as opposed to red.  This is indeed another silver like my first last month.


Moxostoma-carinatumThe fishing day was not lost.  As usual, persistence and patience paid off.  After I released the beautiful fish I pulled up a seat next to Granny and we enjoyed the sunset.  Then, as usual, Granny made a meal to die for.  Tonight was chicken fajitas!


August 24

Yeti-tumblerI didn’t have the best night sleep.  Just downstream of camp is a massive weed bed.  All night long a popping-like-sucking sound came from the weeds.  I can’t be sure but I believe the sound came from channel catfish.  I couldn’t boil that water fast enough for our coffee this morning.


BeaverThe skies were threatening and there was wind.  We packed camp pronto.  We didn’t want to dry out tents, sleeping bags and etc. when we got home later today.  We were packed early and with full Yeti’s of coffee we pushed off and sipped.  When your quiet, not fishing and floating with the current, almost every turn has wildlife.  While today was mostly waterfowl, deer and squirrels there were a few tail slapping beavers shoeing us off.


flyfishingThe clouds were especially dark and the way they reflected on the water actually made it easy to see into the water.  After a few floats here I know this stretch of river and we dropped anchor the same spot Granny and I got three redhorse last month.  While I finished my coffee and polished off a yogurt, Granny meticulously worked a school of redhorse on a flat.  No luck.


fish-onI’d been enjoying Granny’s attempts and encouraging her to make a cast at a huge redhorse with a bright red tail about 20 feet out.  She said from her angle she couldn’t see the brute well enough and handed me the rod.  I slowly stood up on my rowing seat and went to work.  Not long in pursuit the broad sided sucker spotted my fly and just like last night, charged and devoured it.


I gave the fish a strip set and a slight jab to the side with my rod tip and hooked him.  It was game on as this slab took off downstream.  Once again almost to the backing on my Bauer but he stopped seconds before.  There were a lot of side to side runs as I eased him in but never again a long run.


river-redhorseAfter several minutes it was time for the net.  This fish was huge and Granny scooped for him several times unsuccessfully.  She’d get the fish halfway in then he’d fall out.  She finally got it.  We both were relieved not only because we wanted to see this enormous fish but also, I was certain this was a new redhorse species for my list.


redhorse-identificationThis fish was oversized and I could hardly lift him from the net.  He was bent up and sort of stuck in there.  Before even trying to get him completely out we got the photos needed for identification – lips – dorsal – and whole fish close enough for a lateral line scale count.  Once that was done I pulled him out for the grip and grin.


river-redhorseThis beast was heavy.  While pics never do any fish justice this one still looks large.   I’d put him at 2-feet long and perhaps 6-7lbs.  Word on the internet says they reach 30” and 14lbs.  I can’t wait till I get one like that!


fly-fishingOnce we were done with photos I gently pointed his blunt and almost cartoony looking face upstream to help him reenergize.  He was fine.  Without any hesitation he flipped his tail and blasted off like a long-range missile leaving me with water dripping off my nose.


river-redhorseIndeed this is another new redhorse for my list.  This guy is the river redhorse (Moxostoma carinatum).  The red tail and the tails upper shape is a dead give away along with the scale count of 46 and shape of the lips.  There a few other more technical confirmations as well.  This fish has me pretty close if not there to 450 species on the fly now.




I’m having fun chasing true oddball fish with the fly.  I knew years ago a time would come where most the common fish would be checked off the list and it would be time to hunt weird ones.  All I can say is its an absolute blast and I look forward to getting more.


river-redhorseGranny and I pulled off the river around 2 PM.  While this fishing was slow overall, it was successful.  And maybe it wasn’t such a bad deal that it didn’t get as hot as the forecast called for.  In fact I’m sure it was a good thing!


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing


  1. Brian I

    Congrats on the new species! And awesome you’re headed to Borneo for the red kaloi; I loved reading about Austin Kane’s journey over there.

  2. Jeff

    Thanks Brian. And yes, I’m stoked for the red kaloi. I’ll be with Austin

  3. Howie

    Definitely going to target these fish soon! Thanks for the introduction and great tips.

Welcome to the Blog of Jeff Currier!

Contact Jeff

I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!