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Adventures in Canal fishing - The White Sucker (Catostomus commersonii)

When I was around 10 years old we vacationed at these cabins on a lake and while most were content to soak a worm on the lake, I knew I had to make the most of the two weeks I had to fish so I explored the stream below the lake spillway.  It was in this little stream that I saw my first "Sucker fish".  My brother and I had never seen them before so we tried drifting a worm to them but as soon as the split shot on the line hit the water they would spook and go a million different directions to later regroup and refuse our offerings.  While we caught many Bullheads, Bass, Bluegills, Fallfish, and even a couple of trout out of that section of water we never did catch a White Sucker which were the biggest fish in that stream.

This was one of those small streams that in the area didn't attract from what we could see any anglers, forgotten along with an old dump and the collapsed remains of a shack that I was told was once a Dancing Hall,  and judging by the trash this would have been around the 1950's or so maybe earlier.  It wasn't a Trout stream, the fish were not giants but it had some deeper holes and was nice and cool on a hot summer day.  I think my attraction to these smaller not so prime waterways started back then.  Fast forward some 30 years and I am still exploring these types of waters.  While I live very close the the famed Lehigh River it is the smaller man made canal that runs along sections of it that I have become interested in.  Built in the 1800's to shuttle coal some remnants of the canal remain today.  The Delaware and Lehigh Heritage Corridor , the D&L trail for short, that runs along the Lehigh River between it and the Lehigh Canal providing access.

A little exploring along this trail and I was seeing fish, not the usual Bass and Bluegills but bigger fish.  Now if there was a waterway around here that screamed Carp, this Canal is it. So on a return trip I brought my fly rod and tied on a Beaded San Juan worm.  The water is generally shallow in the area I was fishing and I could see these fish cruising back and forth, being a canal and subject to run off water, algae and low visibility it was hard to make out exactly what type of fish I was seeing.  Thinking they were small carp I cast the fly so it would drop ahead of them not spooking them but in their feeding lane.  I cast the fly and watched as it fell in front of the fish and then watched the fish attack and pin the fly to the bottom.  What came next was my surprise that the fish I had hooked on a 3/4 WT fiberglass rod was a big White Sucker.  It was a wild fight navigating around tree branches and other obstructions but when the fish slid into my hand it was a great feeling of accomplishment.
I will be back to this water, it's close, nicely situated next to where we do our shopping and the trail makes it a great place to walk the pup and for my wife to take pictures.  A quick Google Earth map check has me looking at over 15 miles of water to explore, and who knows what other species of fish to catch. 


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