Spawning Suckers and Gizzard Shad In The Gunpowder River

While I was fishing to a good Hendrickson emergence a few months ago, an angler passing me on the trail told me he saw spawning fish in some shallow riffles. I continued fishing a snow shoe emerger with success until I thought I’d take a look at the area he mentioned. Suckers, some nearly twenty inches long, had gathered in a section of riffle water to spawn. Prior to this I spotted groups of smaller suckers spawning in Little Falls, as well as in the Lower Gunpowder. The clear, shallow water of the upper river at that time made for some prime viewing and videotaping.

These fish had either migrated or congregated in riffles above Falls Rd, which means the sucker fry should now, months later, be providing the brown trout with a bit larger meal than normal. We also have a run of Gizzard Shad on the Gunpowder, which swim up from Loch Raven Reservoir. These bluish-gray 10-16 inch shad with a distinct forked tail and dark spot behind the gills can be found in areas of the upper river. The past two years I have seen more and more of these fish spawning during late May into June. The migration has ended for them as hundreds of shad are schooled up in the Plunge Pool below Prettyboy Dam.