Bigmouth Buffalo (Ictiobus cyprinellus)

Drawing of Bigmouth Buffalo (Ictiobus cyprinellus)

Illustration © TPWD

Other Names
Gourdhead, Redmouth Buffalo, Common Buffalo
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.
Life History
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.
Bigmouth buffalo are found in the Lake Erie drainage, and in the Mississippi River drainages from southern Canada south to the Gulf Coast. 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.