Jason Karls, 39, of Great Falls holds the new state record blue sucker

Jason Karls, 39, of Great Falls holds the new state record blue sucker, which he caught April 19 in the Marias River near Loma. Photo courtesy Montana FWP

A Great Falls man hooked into a little-known native Montana fish in mid-April on the Marias River near Loma and set a new state record.

On April 19, Jason Karls landed a 13.29-pound blue sucker, breaking the old record set in 2014 by almost two pounds. Karls’ catch measured 34.56 inches long.

The blue sucker is one of nine members of the sucker family, all native to Montana. The common carp, which is not native to Montana, is not a sucker but a member of the minnow family.

New state record blue sucker

At 13.29 pounds, the new state record blue sucker breaks the old record by nearly two pounds. Photo courtesy Montana FWP

The blue sucker’s natural distribution is in the Missouri-Mississippi river system from Montana east to Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and south to the Gulf of Mexico, according to “Fishes of Montana,” by C.J.D. Brown.

Because of habitat changes, however, Montana’s blue sucker is an uncommon fish and is listed as a species of special concern.

Dams block the fishes’ passage to spawning grounds and eliminate peak flows that initiate spawning runs, says “A Field Guide to Montana Fishes.” Dams also discharge cold, clear water rather than the warm, turbid waters in which the blue sucker evolved.