Black Buffalo (Ictiobus niger)

Drawing of Black Buffalo (Ictiobus niger)

Illustration © TPWD

Other Names
Mongrel Buffalo, Current Buffalo
Black buffalo resembles its cousin, the bigmouth buffalo, but has a smaller, nearly horizontal mouth and thicker lips. The front of the upper lip lies well below the lower margin of the eye, and the upper jaw is as long or longer than the eye's diameter. The body of a black buffalo is typically thicker than that of a smallmouth buffalo, but not as deep. Coloring is similar to the bigmouth buffalo, but usually a little darker. Ictiobus is Greek for "bull fish", while niger is Latin for "dark" or "black.
Life History
Like other buffalo species, the black buffalo appears to spawn in shallow water during spring. This species occurs more often in strong currents, which gives rise to its common name, "current buffalo." Adults may reach weights of 50 pounds.
The black buffalo occurs throughout the Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri, and adjacent river basins. In Texas, it is largely confined to the Red River basin.
Buffalo will sometimes take dough baits made with cottonseed meal, and when hooked, provide exceptional sport. Black buffalo are infrequently caught in Texas.