Captain Pete with a big Smallmouth Buffalo

One of the more common fish we encounter on Lake of the Ozarks is the Buffalo. Often confused with a carp, it is actually a member of the sucker family of fishes. These fish feed primarily on insects, plankton and worms, but still grow to astounding sizes. Smallmouth Buffalo run from 5-30 lbs. in LOZ. They can be hard to hit as they tend to swim quickly and dart as they do. This native fish species is not considered a game fish because of difficulty in catching them with conventional hook and line, however they make good table fare and are sought out by commercial fishermen in other states, who use nets to catch them.

There is another species of buffalo we sometimes encounter called the Black Buffalo. These fish are longer and more round than a smallmouth buffalo. The also have extremely puffy lips, but can often be difficult to identify as I believe that cross-breeding occurs between the species. The illustrations below shows some of the differences.



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