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LONGNOSE SUCKER

Helena man catches state record longnose sucker at Hauser

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Jonathan Miller caught a record-breaking longnose sucker May 10 at Hauser Reservoir.

When Jonathan Miller caught a longnose sucker on May 10 at Hauser Reservoir, he tossed it in the back of his truck and got back to fishing for walleye.

His friend, Todd Smitham, caught a glimpse of the fish, Miller recalled Wednesday, and said that it looked pretty big. 

He was right.

Miller, a 26-year-old Helena resident, has caught a longnose sucker that breaks the state record for the third time in less than 15 months, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials said Wednesday, adding he used a jig to land his 4.78-pound, 22 1/4-inch fish.

Miller and his friend weighed the fish with the friend’s scale. They then called the friend’s mother, who works for FWP, and she talked them through what to do. They then got the fish weighed by a certified scale, Miller said.

Miller, who works at Boeing and also works part-time at Capital Sports, said he plans on getting his fish mounted.

“Not many people regard sucker fish that high,” he said, adding they are usually used as bait for other fish.

“I will just put it on my wall,” Miller said, but added it might be put on display at Capital Sports.

“It wasn’t expected by any means. If it was a walleye I could see myself being more excited,” he said. “But a state record is a state record…"

The record breakers seem to be coming at a faster pace.

The previous longnose sucker record was set in May of 2021, with a 4.21-pound fish from Holter Reservoir. That record surpassed a 3.42-pound longnose sucker caught from the Missouri River in March of 2021.

The sucker is the third-largest family of fish in Montana with nine species, behind only the minnow and salmonid (trout) families. Longnose suckers are native to the state and widely distributed across nearly all of central and western Montana.

With a total of 91 native and introduced fish species found in Montana, interest in fish records has increased in recent years. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks maintains the list of record fish, and it is available on FWP’s website at https://fwp.mt.gov/fish/anglingData/records.

Anglers who think they may have caught a state record fish should keep the following things in mind:

  • To prevent loss of weight, do not clean or freeze the fish. Keep the fish cool – preferably on ice.
  • Take a picture of the fish.
  • Weigh the fish on a certified scale (found in grocery stores, hardware stores, etc.), witnessed by a store employee or other observer. Obtain a weight receipt and an affidavit from the store personnel if no FWP official is present. Measure the length and girth.
  • Contact the nearest FWP office to have the fish positively identified by a fisheries biologist.

Assistant editor Phil Drake can be reached at 406-231-9021.

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