Bigmouth Buffalo The bigmouth buffalo is a large species of the sucker family. It is a dullish brown-olive color with dusky fins. It sports a long dorsal fin and a large oblique and terminal mouth. No barbells on mouth or spines on fins. Buffalo are a large fish that can reach 4 ft and 65 lb. They are primarily plankton feeders, eating mostly algae, zooplankton, crustaceans and other larvae.
Buffalo migrate upstream to spawn usually from April to June. Eggs are broadcast over plants to where they adhere. More than one male will assist in spawning by moving the female to the top of the water to help mix eggs and milt.
These fish are rarely caught by rod and reel, but successful anglers have used small hooks hidden in dough balls fished along the bottom. The meat is firm, white, flaky and good tasting, although somewhat bony. They are especially fine eating when smoked.
Bigmouth Buffalo in Texas
Description Ictiobus is Greek for "bull fish" and cyprinellus is Latin meaning "small carp." Bigmouth buffalo are similar in color and shape to smallmouth buffalo, except that the mouth is not oriented downward in typical sucker fashion, but rather straight ahead.
As with smallmouth buffalo, bigmouth buffalo appear to spawn in very shallow water during the spring when water temperatures reach 60°F to 65°F. Eggs hatch in 9-10 days. Typically, the species may occur in schools. Young fish seem to prefer eating bottom-dwelling invertebrates, while older individuals prefer crustaceans dwelling in the midwater.
In Texas the range is limited to the Red River below Lake Texoma and to the Sulphur River in the northeast.
As with smallmouth buffalo, some anglers consider bigmouth buffalo to be a rough fish. However, the species is highly prized in many areas. Many people consider it quite a food fish despite its many bones. Some even relish the species' bony nature. Bigmouth buffalo in excess of 58 pounds have been landed by rod-and-reel anglers, whereas the trotline record in Texas is 75 pounds. Angling techniques are similar to those used for smallmouth buffalo.