Each spring, when the rivers warm up, fish swim upstream to spawn, to lay glistening baby-fish eggs in their own childhood birth grounds.
Each spring the fishermen wait for spawning season to cast their crawlers and hook and line into the rushing river and anticipate the bite of sucker fish.
Sucker is, as so many Upper Peninsula fishermen know, the prime bait utilized during those sweet summer mornings when bobbing for lake trout in the depths of Lake Superior.
So guess, my dear reader, how your blogger spent Mother’s Day morning?
You got it. It was a sucker-on-Mother’s-Day adventure.
Last time I joined the sucker fishing fun was 2009. Barry and his fishing buddy, Nancy, filled the freezer with bait. I needed an outdoor blog and wrote the following: A sucker for sucker fishing.
One of the reasons I chose to accompany Barry on his quest was because it felt unexpected. As many of you know, I am trying to say “yes” to some different, unusual or life-affirming possibilities these days.
We headed to the Sturgeon River before 6 a.m., brewing some coffee and grabbing a croissant from the Holiday station.
It was a tad chilly before the sun fully rose, with temperatures hugging about 45 degrees. (7.2 C.) I had dressed in long underwear, long-sleeve shirt, hooded sweatshirt, warm fleece jacket, knit hat and mittens.
That seemed to do the job.
Nature’s gift is that she so often invigorates. She also provides so much to see and do. If one is a little chilly, one can climb a cliff. Watch crows and ravens and kingfishers. Startle to fish jumping out of the river creating concentric circles.
Delight to four sand hill crane winging overhead, barking their unique crane-songs.
I did not fish.
That would have involved buying a fishing license, and that seemed too expensive given the fact I might not fish again all year.
Barry was not fishing for sucker bait today. He still has enough in the freezer from last year. Instead, he wanted six fish to make Pickled Suckers.
He has a few steadfast and hearty friends & family who enjoy Pickled Sucker. (I will type the recipe out for you at the end of this post, if any of you come across any of these finned creatures.)
It really was a lovely Mother’s Day.
Taking pictures to show you made it interesting.
The sun sparkling on the river felt like a gift of diamonds.
About an hour and a half passed until he caught six suckers.
When 8:30 rolled around we traveled back east toward our home in Aura. Later in the day I would talk to my mom, Barry’s mom and both kids.
It felt like a very special Mother’s Day, enriched by spending a couple hours on the river, watching my husband do something he loves.
And doing something I love–another unexpected venture into nature’s bounty.
Pickled Sucker, Herring or Northern Pike
Brine – 6 cups water, 1 cup pickling salt. Add 1 1/2 pounds fish chunks and cover in glass bowl. Refrigerate 12 hours or overnight.
Drain and rinse in cold water. Place in clean glass bowl and cover with white vinegar for 12 hours.
Rinse fish in cold water and drain. Place in glass jars and over with cooked room temperature brine consisting of:
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup white vinegar
Couple small onions, sliced
1 t. pickling spices
Cook the above brine by bringing to a boil and then simmering for 15 minutes. Stir well after cooling to room temp and pour over fish in jars. Refrigerate jars for five days before using. Shake jars at least once during that time. Will keep for six to eight weeks if refrigerated. (This recipe can be double for four suckers or eight fillets.)