mike whitfield (
Tue, 8 Nov 2005 00:47:08 -0500

Got a question on a fish my wife caught. This past Friday we went fishing and
she caught a fish I can't ID. It weighed about thirty pounds, was over 26"
total length, about 23" SL, about 8 1/2" high (body only). Its shape was that
of a bigmouth buffalo - roughly symetrical top to bottom, very deep and
heavy-bodied for its length, very thick caudal peduncal. Its mouth was
slightly subterminal and small, with fairly thick lips. Actually the mouth
was almost exactly that of a drum, although situated-in-the end of its body
and roughly centered top-to-bottom rather than being toward the bottom of the
body, as in a carp, drum, or carpsucker. There were no barbels - I looked
quite closely.

The caudal fin was large and square, like a drum. Actually a drum's fin is
usually slightly convex; this fish's was slightly concave, not as much so as a
bass. Its dorsal fin was in two definite sections, slightly notched like a
carp or buffalo rather than being two separate fins like a striper or drum,
and almost black There was a much taller section in front, with a very long
but short section in the rear, and both sections had large spines. I felt no
serrations on the spines, but noticed that they were quite thick. The pelvic
fins were reddish-orange, not as bright as a redhorse' but definitely

I'd say bigmouth buffalo, except for the color. This thing was brassy yellow,
like a carp. Its pelvic fins were reddish-orange as noted, although its
dorsal was as noted dusky and almost black. Also, a buffalo's caudal fin is,
from everything I've seen, almost as forked as a carp's. The thing fought
like crazy for fifteen or twenty minutes, pulling our fourteen foot boat
around, but didn't manage to break either her 4lb test line or ultralight rod.
It never jumped, but would come almost to the surface and roll before diving.
It struck a fast-moving 3" Gitzit minnow about a foot or two beneath the
surface in about eight to ten feet of water - not exactly common in either
carp or buffalo! - while we were catching largemouth bass, white and yellow
bass, and crappie working schools of shad minnows.

So what's the verdict? Has she caught an odd colored bigmouth buffalo, or an
oddly shaped carp? Or is there something else out there that I'm missing? We
couldn't bring it back without killing it, since it's literally larger than
our live well. It was caught in the Tennessee River, in the southeaster part
(Chattanooga) of the state, so its nothing that wandered in from the sea.

Mike Whitfield

"My plans for world domination have encountered a momentary setback. Talk
amongst yourselves." -Bucky D. Katt

"Little children who could neither walk nor talk were running about in the
streets cursing their maker." - Sir Boyle Roche
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