Sunday, May 04, 2008

Catostomus commersoni; Sexing the White Sucker

Sexing the species Catostomus commersoni-the White Sucker can be a helpful tool for the many Northwestern Minnesotans who go out after this fish on opening day (currently May 1).

There are quite a few families in our area that head out every year when Sucker season opens. All of them hope to net their limit. The limit currently is 50 per person. Each fish is between 3 to 8 pounds.

The advantage in sexing the fish before they are netted is that the female has more meat for the same body length. In the first photo the female is on top, the male on the bottom.

Color is the first important signal. The females are darker on the top of the head and on the back.

These next two photos are of the head and shoulders of the White Sucker. This first is of the Female. Notice the dark brown/green coloring from the top of the head down to the mouth. The dark brown/green color emphatically outlines the gill area and continues down the back.



The male is quite a bit more pale than the female. The head is nearly ivory. And while the area behind the gills is somewhat darker, this area is much lighter than that of the female.



The whole back of the female is darker than that of the male. But you can tell immediately which is female or male based upon the signs manifested in the lower part of the tail and the anal fin. There's a useful diagram for the terminology of fish parts on this link so that you can identify the parts of a fish according to the current system.

The Female White Sucker has no markings (or very few markings) on the lower part of the tail fin and the anal fin.

The Male White Sucker has several bumps on each ray of the lower tail fin and the anal fin. In my photo you can see a wound that this male had some time in the past in his right rear above the anal fin. The wound is not useful in sexing the fish.

Genitalia: the female's genitalia tend to protrude more than the males at this time of year. Notice in both the photos above that the Female protrudes and the male does not.

So, now, you will be able to sex the species Catostomus commersoni. Perhaps the same features apply to suckers in Beijing, Iraq, Ireland, or the Canary Islands. I have no idea about that.

Here's what I want to find out. Does the meat of the Male or the Female taste better? There is more meat on the Female, but if there is a significant difference in the quality of the meat I would be willing to let my back hurt a bit more to clean several more males.

Gene and Vincent brought over about 5 gallons of White Suckers yesterday. I cleaned them last night. I got over a gallon of meat from them. I brined them in salt water from that evening until after worship services today (around 1:30pm).

I cut the meat and mixed in peppercorns, whole mustard seed, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, a strong white onion, 1 cup of sugar. 1 cup or so of red wine, a cup of whey with some curd, and a cup of cider vinegar.

I hope the batch turns out well. It's in an ice-cream bucket in our basement refrigerator. I think I'll give it 2 weeks to ferment before trying it out.

What's the worst that could happen? I could get a parasite that eats up all my innards before the doctors could diagnose the problem. This situation doesn't appeal to me at all. That's why I'll be extremely cautious when tasting the result in a couple of weeks. If the meat isn't sour I'll spit it out.

Jaime and Laura, thank you for your nice comments about my sauerkraut and kimchi. I did try to lacto-ferment some beans a few months ago. But I didn't know what I was doing well enough to eat what I made. The beans stank so much. Not in a bad way, necessarily. But I don't know what to expect.

Sunday, yes, I suppose some of you were wondering what happened today. We had worship at St. Petri, Oak Park, and Nazareth. Oak Park asked that when I'm on vacation and the deacons have to read the sermon that I select hymns that are much more easy for them to sing than what I selected last vacation. Sure. I can do that. I'm sorry that I didn't think about that before hand.

Sunday afternoon we got ready for our children's piano recital. Both Mary and I were playing duets with a couple of our children. Mary played the bass with Clara on "We Three Kings," and they did a great job. I played bass for Matthew on "Rocky Top." What a blast. All of the students did a great job. I took several videos of the event with my pathetic camera. I'll try to get them up on my google video or youtube video accounts for any family/friends that might want to look at them.

(Really, how pathetic does someone's life have to be to be willing to watch a piano recital piece of someone they are not related to) But you know what, some of these kids are great in their performances. I just hope that my camera caught this.

Have a good night.

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