In lakes and rivers all over America swim carp, sheephead, buffalo and suckers. For most American’s these bottom feeders have no place in our lakes or on our plates, but there are fisherman who see opportunity. You’ll find them on the lake or river almost every day of the year. They make a living fishing, but you won’t find them running fancy bass boats or plastered with sponsor logos on their chest. They have no slot limit, there is no 6 fish limit either. They don’t measure their success in ounces, it’s a matter of pounds – thousands of pounds. They are a different breed and they live a life as rough as the rough fish they pursue. They are Bottom Feeders.
Bottom Feeders is a weekly series that follows the lives and struggles of commercial fisherman up and down the Mississippi River. Each week highlights three teams of commercial fisherman as they work throughout all four seasons to bring in the big haul and put food on the table for their families. Their target is a freshwater fish that anglers rarely catch and never want. Bottom feeding fish like carp and suckers are the number one source of consumable protein everywhere in the world…except in the US. And in the US, these commercial fishermen are the canaries in the cave, most times finding devastating invasive species even before the DNR, and helping to stop the spread of these species which threaten the sport fishing market.
With a work ethic that is stronger than the rock carved banks of the river and a paycheck that is sometimes smaller than the tiny towns they call home, these men are real people, and they are the true meaning of Americans. Every day, they struggle and battle Mother Nature and each other to make a living. Some are small time single man operations. Others are large automated teams, but all share a love of the river. And all are Bottom Feeders.
The Upper Mississippi River consists of a mosaic of floodplain, forest and Mississippi River backwater sloughs, lakes, and islands. Emergent marshes and wet meadows are dominated by herbaceous vegetation sculpted by bluffland. The Blufflands was bypassed by the last continental glacier, resulting in a steep and rugged landscape – often in sharp contrast to flatter land just miles away. These areas are important feeding and nesting grounds for many animals, including wading birds and waterfowl, particularly wood ducks.
The Upper Mississippi provides habitat for more than 125 fish species The Mississippi River channel and backwater sloughs support excellent fisheries and provide habitat for an abundance of wildlife and fish species. Common fish species include walleye, sauger, channel catfish, crappie, and largemouth bass. Also found here are the endangered lake sturgeon, western sand darter, and pallid shiner.
The Bottom Feeders crew fish year round of whatever is in most demand according to the market, however our production crew focused on capturing the majority of footage during peak commercial fishing season: January – April and October – November.
The Bottom Feeders crew’s net carp, bigmouth buffalo, sheepshead, sucker, and catfish. They will occasionally net game fish, such as bass, northern pike, and walleye, in which they will immediately throw back. Most of the commercial fish species are taken with nets and seines, although large numbers of catfish are caught on trotlines both in the river channel and in the backwaters and chutes. Commercial fishing is strictly regulated, with fishermen being required to license all gear and equipment and report the number and kinds of fish taken.
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