Post date: Monday, March 5, 2012 - 21:32
Updated date: 2/6/17
Greater Redhorse, Moxostoma valencienesi


The Greater Redhorse is the largest redhorse in the midwest, and the largest redhorse species that isn't critically imperiled and thus unfishable. Greaters can reach weights approaching 17 pounds. They have become somewhat rare in recent years, mostly due to habitat degradation, the building of migration-blocking dams, and the decline in clam populations in our rivers. These fish often dine on snails and clams, crushing them with the molarlike teeth at the back of their throat, although insect larvae, aquatic worms, and crustaceans make up the bulk of their diet. The Greater has a fan-shaped, bright red dorsal fin, 8 scales across the base of the tail, and a rounded top lobe of the tail fin. Good baits for greaters are nightcrawlers, crawfish, and shrimp. Flies for greaters include most crawfish and stonefly imitations, such as brown woolly buggers, as well as clam flies. The fight of a greater redhorse is incredible - always a memorable battle. For many anglers, this is truly the fish of a lifetime.





The greater redhorse has a bright red tail and a convex (fan-shaped) dorsal fin.  Coloration is dark - each scale has a dark patch at the base.  Greaters have a large mouth.  Greaters are most often confused with the River Redhorse.  Rivers can be distinguished by their concave dorsal fin, or by counting the scales across the base of the tail in a diagonal line.   Rivers have six scales along this line, while Greaters have 8.




Greater Redhorse are enigmatic.  They are often found in medium to small rivers - sometimes in waters as small as creeks.  However, significant populations have been discovered living in certain northern lakes.  These populations are a mystery - poorly understood by biologists and a completely untapped resource for anglers. Unfortunately, these huge, sporty fishes are extremely vulnerable to spearing and bowfishing, since the live and spawn in clear, shallow streams and are often confused with carp since they look similar from above. During their spring spawning run, it is not uncommon to find a pile of dead greater redhorse shot to death by bowfishers and thrown onto the bank to rot.


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