Highfin carpsucker

  Highfin Carpsucker


Its body is deep and compressed laterally, with the back highly arched and long, sickle-shaped dorsal fin with 25 to 27 soft rays. It is brown-olive, with silvery sides, whitish belly and nearly colorless fins. Tubercules are present over most of the head, body and fins of males during the breeding seasons. It's the smallest species of carpsucker, seldom exceeding 12-inches long and 1-pound.


 Highfin Carpsucker

Predominately found in large interior rivers and impoundments in the Mississippi River drainage basin. Widely distributed throughout the Eastern Broadleaf Forest Aquatic Subregion, but is only sporadically found in the eastern part of the Central Plains Aquatic Subregion. Occasionally taken in the Mississippi River, the Highfin Carpsucker is almost completely absent from the Missouri River.


aquatic insect larvae, copepods and algae

State Record

Expert Tip



The largest populations of Highfin Carpsuckers are found in moderately deep waters of relatively clear, medium to large rivers with firm substrates of gravel. It also lives in lowland ponds, oxbows and sloughs, but in smaller populations. In northern parts of its range, the Highfin Carpsucker prefers large, clean rivers with moderate to swift current in quiet waters next to channels. Of the carpsuckers, the highfin is least tolerant of turbidity, siltation and impoundment. 

Highfin are schooling fish. Breeding groups migrate in schools to spawn in the shallows and overflow ponds of streams. It has a curious habit of skimming along the water surface with the dorsal fin and back exposed. Spawning occurs in late spring at water temperatures of 55 to 77 degrees. The eggs are broadcast at random over clean gravel substrate. Sexual maturity is achieved most often during the third year of life. Females produce 42,000 to 63,000 eggs. They reach 12.3-inches long after six years of life.

Recent stream sampling information is available from Iowa DNR's biological monitoring and assessment program.

Present in these Iowa water bodies:
Lake/Stream County Location Acres/Length
Pool 18, Mississippi River Louisa Amenities listed are for the Toolsboro Ramp. The ramp at Toolsboro is paved but the road to the ramp is gravel. There is some shore fishing along the parking area and at the outlet of Lake Odessa. Amenities vary by location in pool 18 13300.00
Pool 16, Mississippi River Scott The amenities list are for Buffalo Shores campground in Buffalo, Iowa. Amenities at other locations in Pool 16 vary by location. 13000.00
Iowa River (Marshalltown to Coralville Lake) Iowa This stretch is located in Marshall, Tama, the SW corner of Benton, Iowa, and Johnson County. A popular access is at the Hwy 21 Access, which is part of the Iowa River Corridor Wildlife Area, just south of Belle Plaine. 104.00
Missouri River (Council Bluffs to state line) Fremont Lake Manawa State Park: 1100 South Shore Drive/Council Bluffs, IA 51501 phone: 712-366-0220. Managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Lake Manawa State Park has boat ramps on the Missouri River within the park. 61.00
Des Moines River (Stratford to Saylorville Lake) Polk The Highway 30 Access is in the middle of this river section and is located 3 miles west of Boone on the north side of Highway 30. 57.00
Cedar River (La Porte City to Cedar Rapids) Linn This stretch is located in Benton and Linn County. A popular river access is in the Dudgeon Lake Wildlife Area right of Hwy 150 on the North side of Vinton. 56.00
Cedar River (Cedar Rapids to Moscow) Cedar This stretch is found in Linn and Cedar County. A popular access is found in Palisades State Park which is on Hwy 30 between Cedar Rapids and Mount Vernon. 55.00
Missouri River (Little Sioux to Council Bluffs) Pottawattamie Wilson Island State Recreation Area: 32801 Campground Lane/Missouri Valley, IA 51555 phone-712-642-2069. Managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Wilson Island Recreation Area has 544 acres along the Missouri River near Missouri Valley Iowa. 53.00
Wapsipinicon River (Troy Mills to Oxford Junction) Jones This stretch is located in Linn and Jones County. A popular access on this stretch is in Pinicon Ridge Park, just off Hwy 13 by Central City. 53.00
East Fork Des Moines (Algona to Humboldt) Humboldt 52.00
North Raccoon River (Perry to Van Meter) Dallas A mid-section access point for this section of river is at the Highway 44 Access 4 miles west of Dallas Center. 31.00
Iowa River (Coralville Lake to River Junction) Johnson This stretch is located in Johnson County. A popular access is the Tailwater East Ramp located right below the Coralville Lake Dam, East of North Liberty and Coralville. 29.00