Bluish-green back shading to coppery-blue sides and light bluish-grey belly; deeply rounded body with a large head and mouth; dorsal fin sickle-shaped; individuals over 40 pounds not uncommon in commercial catches; form schools.
Large, slow-moving rivers and river impoundments throughout most of the state.
Plankton, copepods and cladocerans.
64 lbs 6 oz.; 41.5 in. - Lake Manawa, Pottawattamie County, April 2007 - Ronald Anderson, Omaha, NE
Bigmouth Buffalo are rarely caught on hook and line - if you do, hold on because these fish are strong!
Bigmouth buffalo are well-adapted for life in shallow, standing water that is characteristic of lakes, impoundments, marshes and backwaters of large rivers. They prefer very shallow and slow-flowing water habitats over bottoms rich with detritus in mud and silt. This species tolerates very turbid waters but prefers clear, organically-enriched water with heavy algae and zooplankton blooms.
Spawning commences in April when the water temperature reaches 60 degrees F. The adult fish enter flooded marshes along river bottoms enticed by a sudden rise in water temperature or by an increasing water stage from runoff. They congregate in large schools to spawn over sedges and grasses in shallows about 2 to 3 feet deep. A single gravid female sinks to near the bottom and is surrounded by several males. Together they engage in a series of rushes that pushes the female to the surface while the adhesive eggs are broadcast and fertilized at random. The eggs are unattended until they hatch after incubating 8 to 14 days. Maturity varies, but most fish are sexually mature and spawn at age III. Fecundity of a 10-pound buffalo is around 400,000 eggs.
Growth rate of bigmouth buffalo is rapid. Specimens from the Wisconsin River had calculated body lengths of 5.2 inches at age 1 to 33.3 inches at age 12. Growth varies considerably with location.