Post date: Monday, March 5, 2012 - 21:25
Updated date: 2/6/17
River Redhorse, Moxostoma carinatum


The River Redhorse is the one of the largest of the redhorses. A beefy, powerful fish, the river redhorse has a bright red tail and a olive-bronze body with large scales. The mouth is large and fleshy with thick, rubbery lips. River Redhorse have a concave dorsal, a pointed tip to the tail fin, and six scales across the bottom of the tail. River Redhorse are threatened or endangered in many areas, but in the few clean, free-flowing rivers that are left, populations of this fish can be very strong.


Other Names:  Pavement-Toothed Sucker, River Mullet, Bigjaw Sucker, Redfin Redhorse




The River Redhorse has a bright red tail and a concave dorsal fin.  Coloration is dark - each scale has a dark patch at the base.  Rivers have a large mouth.  River Redhorse are most often confused with the Greater Redhorse.  Greaters can be distinguished by their convex dorsal fin, or by counting the scales across the base of the tail in a diagonal line.   Rivers have six scales along this line, while Greaters have 8.  The upper lobe of the River redhorse's tail is distinctly pointed, unlike that of the Greater redhorse, which has two approximately equal lobes.




The River Redhorse prefers moderate to swift waters of large clean rivers, the lower portions of their main tributaries, reservoirs and pools over clean gravel and rubble. It is seldom found in deep water with mud, silt, or sand bottom. Their favourite foods include clams, snails, insect larvae, and crustaceans. 




Born and bred to live in swift current, this torpedo-shaped mauler has incredible strength and endurance. You should gear up well for pursuing these fish, equipping yourself not only with heavy enough tackle to handle them, but also with a large, soft-meshed net, some forceps for hook removal, and a pair of side-cutters for snipping off deeply imbedded hooks. Consider the use of circle hooks to reduce damage to river redhorse you might catch, whenever fishing in waters where they can be found. Always use great care when handling these fish. River redhorse will take a well-presented nightcrawler or crawfish. They also feed on certain species of river clams, crushing them with the molar-like pharengial teeth at the back of their throat. Flies tied to resemble clams can be effective when drifted in the current. This fish can exceed ten pounds in weight. It's sheer strength, combined with the heavy currents they live in, demand great respect from the fly angler.


Distinguishing Shorthead Redhorse from Juvenile River Redhorse


It's extremely difficult to distinguish adult shorthead redhorse from small specimens of river redhorse. The key is comparing the length of the head to the overall length of the body. It's not an obvious thing, so we made this graphic to help out. Measure the head from the snout to the back of the operculum, and then see how many times that length fits into the fish's overall length. Anything less than 5 should be a river redhorse.





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