The Beef on Buffalos

While visiting Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee recently, I stopped by a spot called “The Spillway.” There I met several guys bankfishing for one of the fish I love most to eat: the buffalo. These guys weren’t just fishing either; they were catching. They had a washtub in their truck full of buffalo fish from 5 pounds up to 35. Looked like they were having a great time, and I sure wished I’d had more time myself so I could have stayed and fished with them.


Buffalo fish are considered roughfish by most state fisheries departments, and that means in many waters you can catch and keep all you want. Few sport fishermen go after them, but commercial fishermen catch and sell millions of buffalos annually from big rivers and lakes throughout the Mississippi River Valley, a trend that has continued year after year after year, for more than a century. In fact, buffalo fish are, and always have been, among our nation’s most important wild food fishes. I guarantee you the guys I met at Reelfoot weren’t practicing catch and release on the monster buffalos they were landing. They were catching buffalos to eat.

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