Sucker Sales

Sucker Sales Canceled Indefinitely



The Vermilion Lake Association Board of Directors voted to suspend Sucker Sales indefinitely.

For additional info, contact any board member.

Additional questions should be directed to the Tower Area Fisheries at the main office 218-310-7802.

Last Updated: March 22, 2022, 8:00 pm

Sucker Sales … A Spring Ritual

This was taken from an interview with “Sucker Veteran” Harold Korpela by Jeff Lovgren

Harold Korpela lead the Vermilion Lake Association’s activity for 25 years, but he couldn’t personally recall when it all began. “Before my time,” he says. Indeed it was. The first suckers were trapped in 1968 (read more about the history here). It became a well-orchestrated spring ritual.

During April, Harold’s team sold suckers trapped during walleye egg-harvesting operations at the DNR’s Pike River Hatchery. The suckers were separated from the walleyes and placed in a 10-foot-by-10-foot holding pen formed by draping a large net over 4 floating timbers lashed together to form a square. The pen was moored at the shore a couple hundred feet from the main walleye egg-take operation.

Each morning at 8:00 a.m., two volunteers carefully walked out on the timbers to retrieve the far end of the net, which was then pulled toward shore to bring 1000 to 2000 lbs. of suckers within reach. A long-handled landing net transferred the suckers — many weighing 3 to 5 lbs — into 30-gallon trash barrels. When a barrel was three-quarters full, it weighed about 100 pounds and was carried up the bank by two strong volunteers.

Harold says eager buyers generally began lining up well before the 8:00 a.m. start. Those who arrived early signed-in on a clipboard to record their place in line. Each buyer was limited to one 100-lb tub until all  had their chance. Thirty minutes to 2 hours later, the pen was empty, the sale was over until the next morning, and another bunch of suckers were headed to the smoker.

A “sucker sale” sign at the County Rd 77 entrance to the hatchery indicates the sale was underway.  In a typical spring, 10,000 lbs. of suckers were removed from the lake.

Harold Korpela retired as activity coordinator in 2008.