Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Oklahoma
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Oklahoma Project

Effects of sucker gigging on riverine fish populations

January 2018 - June 2023


Participating Agencies

  • Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
Lake Spavinaw is home to numerous gigging tournaments targeting sucker species.

Sucker gigging is a cultural method of fish harvest throughout the Ozarks. Harvest during sucker gigging tournaments can be substantial (e.g., > 1,200 fish harvested in a weekend). Little is known about the effect of these fishing activities, but life-history characteristics of suckers (relatively long-lived and highly migratory) suggest these tournaments have the potential to affect fish communities over a large distance from the tournament locations . This study will evaluate the effects of sucker harvest on population dynamics in Spavinaw Creek and determine the harvest level at which overfishing would occur. This information is necessary to evaluate the possible need for harvest regulations on this cultural fishery to ensure sustainability of the fishery and ecosystem integrity.

Research Publications Publication Date
Zentner, D., D. Shoup, and S.K. Brewer. 2023. Effects of Sucker Gigging on Fish Populations in Oklahoma Scenic Rivers. U.S. Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Cooperator Science Series FWS/CSS-151-2023, Washington, D.C. July 2023