How to Catch a Buffalo Fish

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The buffalo fish is any sucker-mouthed fish from the Ictiobus genus, native to freshwater in the Midwestern river valleys. These fish are often mistaken for carp, but they consist of three distinct species indigenous to the area. Local freshwater fishermen catch them prolifically. They are notable as the top commercially caught freshwater fish in the United States. Fishermen seek buffalo fish for the sport of the fight they put up after being hooked and for their meat.

Things You'll Need

  • Fly reel/rod
  • Sinker
  • Hook
  • Bait
  • Water shoes
  • Find a freshwater location to fish. Buffalo fish tend to live in large streams, rivers and reservoirs common to the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio river systems.

  • Attach a hook and sinker to the fishing line. Since buffalo fish is a more obscure fish to catch, there is no set prescribed way to set a line to catch these fish. However, using a sinker in any sort of configuration ensures that the hook lowers toward the bottom of the water where these fish live. A common and easy weight attachment method is to place split shot weights on the line above the hook, pressing them on with a thumb and forefinger. To tie the hook to the end of the line, pass the end through the loop. Wrap the line up around itself seven times, pull back through the small loop of line at the bottom, then pull again.

  • Select your bait and pull the hook through the bait. Balls of dough or bread make excellent bait for buffalo fish, as do grasshoppers, crickets, worms and nightcrawlers.

  • Cast your reel rod from the shore or while standing several feet into the water with water shoes for protection.

  • Yank the line when you feel a bite to set the hook into the fish's mouth.

  • Hold on tight and reel in. Buffalo fish are known for their strength.

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