How to Fish for Smallmouth Buffalo in California

by Brenda Priddy

The smallmouth buffalo fish, or the Ictiobus bubalus, is a freshwater fish native to the Mississippi river and other freshwater rivers and lakes in the United States. The fish is a bluish silver color and is between 18 and 24 inches long, weighing somewhere between 5 to 10 lbs. In California, the fish is non-native, and sightings are rare according to "California Fish and Game." The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection classifies the smallmouth buffalo fish as "apparently secure," meaning that the species is not threatened, but it may be illegal to fish for the smallmouth buffalo in certain parts of California. Always check your local regulations before fishing for specific fish.

Items you will need

  • Spinning rod and reel
  • Fishing line
  • 8/0 circle hook
  • Grasshoppers, crickets, worms and nightcrawler beetles
  • Cheese
Step 1

Fish for smallmouth buffalo fish in lakes, rivers and streams. Look for areas that have submerged wood, debris and overhangs, as the fish prefer shady water. Choose water that is clear and has a high level of visibility. The lower Colorado River and connecting waters are the most likely area to contain smallmouth buffalo, as they travel from their native Arizona into California through this river according to "California Fish and Game."

Step 2

Fish during the smallmouth buffalo's spawning period, between March and early June. This is the time when you will find a greater number of fish in the water. Use a spinning rod and reel with a 8/0 circle hook for catching the fish. This will help catch the fish on the line without the problem of the fish swallowing the line, which can make it difficult to remove from the mouth.

Step 3

Try a variety of baits when fishing including grasshoppers, crickets, nightcrawler beetles, worms and small pieces of cheese. The natural diet of the smallmouth buffalo fish is a variety of algae and insects that fly near the water. Make sure to anchor the bait firmly around the hook so that the fish cannot snatch the bait without catching the line.