Post date: Sunday, March 4, 2012 - 13:24
Updated date: 4/24/24
Black Buffalo ID photo - Ictiobus niger


The Black Buffalo is quite rare in northern waters - but much more common in the south. This fish lives in the main channels of large rivers. It has a cylindrical body, just like a bigmouth buffalo, but the its mouth is angled downward at 45 degrees and has thick, suckerlike lips, unlike the thin lips and forward-pointing mouth of the bigmouth. Black buffalo may grow to be 80 pounds or larger, so if you find yourself fishing for black buffalo, be sure to bring plenty of backing.


Other Names:  mongrel buffalo, bastard buffalo, round buffalo, sheepshead buffalo, current buffalo, chopper, buglemouth buffalo, bugler, reefer, prairie buffalo, kicker, chucklehead, deepwater buffalo, bouy tender.





Black Buffalo are very difficult to identify. Small specimens look VERY similar to smallmouth buffalo, and might be indistinguishable from them without genetic analysis. Once they attain a large size, the huge fleshy lips are diagnostic, but before then, identification can be dicey, even for experts in the field. Bear in mind that there also exist several hybrid buffalos, including bigmouth/smallmouth, black/smallmouth, and possibly even second generation hybrids. With that said, here are the criteria we use.


Black Buffalo

  • The length of the body is three times the height of the body (slender rounded body).
  • The length of the mouth is twice as big as the diameter of the eye (big mouth).
  • The distance from the eye to the bottom corner of the preopercle is distinctly less than the distance from the eye to the upper end of the gill opening (long head shape).
  • The back of the fish behind the head (nape) is rounded, not keeled (unkeeled back).
  • The body is round in cross-section (cylindrical body).





Range Map

Photo Credits:

Konrad Schmidt

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