Bigmouth buffalo

The Bigmouth buffalo, Ictiobus cyprinellus, also known as the Gourd head, Redmouth buffalo, Roundhead, or Brown buffalo, is a large species of the Catostomidae or “sucker” family.

The Bigmouth buffalo is a dull brownish olive color with dusky fins. Like other suckers it has a long dorsal fin, but unlike others it has a large oblique and terminal mouth. It is the largest of the buffalo fish and reaches a length of more than 4 ft and 65 lb in weight.

It is distributed from the Red River of the North Canada to the Ohio River and south in the Mississippi River system to Texas and Alabama in the United States. It lives in sluggish areas of large rivers and shallow lakes.

The Bigmouth buffalo migrates upstream to spawn in the spring, usually April to June. It lays its eggs on plants to which they adhere. It feeds in shallow water at night and plows along the bottom, often with its tail out of water. It engulfs small animals such as worms, insect larvae, and vegetation from the mud.

The fish is vulnerable in shallow water and is often captured by spearing. It is commercially caught on trot lines, setlines, hoop and trammel nets, and seines. Though it has numerous small bones, its good flavor makes it one of the most valuable of the non-game freshwater fish.