So it is early in the year and the suckers are kicking around in big numbers getting ready to spawn or even in the act of spawning. Being an open minded angler (you are open minded enough to read my blog so I am hoping you are open minded enough to target suckers when they are present- right?) you think to yourself, how do I target these fish? You notice that there are tons of Mother’s Day caddis kicking around (aka the Grannom or Brachycentrus to be exact- the warm water guy knows a bit about bugs- cool huh?). There are literally thousands of adults on the rocks and in the afternoon they are in the water. After reading this weird blog about fly fishing and geeking out on fish you know that the suckers you are seeing have inferior mouths. This explains why they aren’t jumping up on the surface to take the adults there. But they are moving around on the bottom. You then put on a caddis soft hackle (green body with a brown/grey hackle) with a couple of shot a foot ahead of it or you put that fly as the dropper behind a heavily weighted bugger to get it down. Within a couple of minutes you are into a nice 5 lb redhorse that goes airborne several times.
|Banded Killi- look out, I am coming!|
As I have said before, the majority of fishes have a terminal mouth. It should come as no surprise that not all terminal mouths are alike. There are a wide variety of shapes and functions (which also holds true for inferior and superior mouths as well, but I want to geek out on the terminal mouth). Before I get into that too much, let’s get into a few things about fish evolution and taxonomy. It is a pretty important part of the mouth story….
The Fishes are in Phylum Chordata (animals with backbones, although there are some invertebrates that are Chordates, but that is another kettle of fish – pun intended), in the sub division Craniata (animals with skulls). The Class Pisces that used to encompass all the fishes is no longer used. Yea, confusing, but that can be science at times because as we learn more about the world we live in, we re-examine earlier thoughts and refine them using new data. Pretty cool really. Alright, from there we have three SuperClasses of fishes:
|Hagfish- purdy ain't it?|
|Chimera- Charismatic Cartilagenous Critter|
|Who doesn't love Ray Troll?|
Class Sarcopterygii, the Lobe-Finned Fishes. To simplify these fish have a fleshy lobe that their fins come out of. There aren’t a whole lot of extant (currently living) fishes in this class. Lungfishes (only found in South America, Africa and Australia- super cool fish I would love to catch…) and the Coelacanth (two species of living fossil). They won’t be part of this discussion but since amphibians evolved from them, then came reptiles until eventually came the mammals then us. Gotta love us Tetrapods! In a way we owe the whole sport of fly fishing to our lobe finned ancestors. Think of it as fishing thanks to fish.
|Big sturgeon.. Can I get that in Fly please?|
Subclass Chondrostei, the sturgeons and bichirs. Cool fish that have skeletons that are primarily cartilage but have some ossification (bone development). Not frequently caught on flies, although the Beluga sturgeon is reputedly quite a predator….
|Amia calva- Holostei bruiser|
Subclass Teleostei, the most diverse group of fishes alive today! Almost all fish that are typically fly fished for are in this group. These guys have mouths that are of critical importance to us. Most of the next discussion will be all about their oral adaptations!
|A little Teleost diversity from the Amazon|
Next topic- the pucker… yes, seriously, the pucker…. Stay tuned!