Life history and ecology of the bigmouth buffalofish (ictiobus cyprinellus) in Saskatchewan
Johnson, Ronald Phillip
The bigmouth buffalofish, Ictiobus cyprinellus (Valenciennes) is the only buffalofish occurring in Saskatchewan. The species supports at present a small and erratic commercial fishery in this province, but has been an important commercial species in the Mississippi for many years. Rather uniform catches of II to 16 million pounds were the rule in the Mississippi system from 1894 to 1922 (Sette, 1925). In Saskatchewan the species is regarded as a rough fish, and accused of detrimental effects on game fish populations. A life history study was therefore desirable to provide information on its relation to other species of fish, and its value as a commercial species in Saskatchewan waters. Knowledge of the rate of growth, preproduction, ecology, and distribution could benefit the commercial fishery for buffalofish on Last Mountain and Pasqua Lakes and recent years the species has been the object of revived interest in pond culture in the United States (Swingle, 1949; 1954; 1957). In the future such protein foods may have unpredicted importance even in agricultural Saskatchewan. Basic lake surveys have been carried out on Last Mountain Lake (Atton and Murray, 1952) and the six Qu'Appelle Lakes (results in preparation) over a period of six years. During these surveys the usual fishing gear captured only small numbers of buffalofish, although they were known to be abundant. The present investigation, carried out from 1955 to 1958, has provided additional data and the opportunity to summarize the information available concerning this species.