Rough fish = record fish

Posted on: April 28, 2016 | Bob Frye | Comments

Blog--record drum ColeJoshua Cole with his Missouri record freshwater drum.

If you’re a fisherman, and a lover of fine literature, you’ve undoubtedly read quite a few romanticized odes to the freshwater drum, right?

Ah, hardly.

It’s the same with the black buffalo. Yes, that’s a species of fish, in the sucker family. No, it’s not generally regarded with love and affection.

Neither drum nor buffalo attract a huge following of dedicated anglers like, say, trout and bass.

But they can get big, as two new state records show.

Both came from Missouri. What’s really telling about how the fish are rated is the method by which they were taken. That wasn’t with rod and reel, but by bowfishing.

There as here, that’s typically allowed only for “rough” fish.

Anyway, in Missouri, a man named Joshua Cole of Reeds Spring shot a freshwater drum on Table Rock Lake that weighed 30 pounds, 15 ounces. It was 33 inches long and had a girth of 30 inches.

He took it around 10 at night.

“I can’t believe I shot a state-record drum,” Cole said in a press release put out by the state’s Department of Conservation. “I knew I was shooting at a big drum, but I didn’t realize how big it was until we got it in the boat.”

He got it on his first bowfishing trip of the season, he said.

“Once my friends and I got the fish in the boat, I knew that it was a state-record fish. This is by far the one of biggest fish I have ever caught in my life, and I still can’t believe it,” Cole said.

Pennsylvania has freshwater drum, too. But the state record here is a 19-pound, 14-ounce fish caught from the Monongahela River in Washington County in 1994 by Tim Rogers of Finleyville.

Just a few weeks before Cole recorded his catch, meanwhile, another Missouri bowfisherman, Travis Cardona of Hillsboro, took a black buffalo that weighed 74 pounds.

Blog--record drum (black buffalo)Travis Cardona with his record black buffalo.

“Believe it or not, once I shot the giant, I didn’t know it was that big of a fish until it started swimming back to the boat,” Cardona said. “Believe you me, after it swam towards the boat the fight was on. It was a five minute battle that seemed like an eternity.”

For comparison’s sake, the largest black buffalo ever caught on a line was 63 pounds, 6 ounces, according to the International Game Fish Association. It came from Iowa in 1999.

Cardona plans to mount his fish.

“I already have a place on the wall picked out for this once-in-a-lifetime fish. Now I’m ready to get back out on the water and try to take another giant,” he said.

Black buffalo are native to one place in Pennsylvania, that being the Ohio River drainage, but the Fish and Boat Commission lists its status as “uncertain.” There is no state record category for the fish either.

Bob Frye is the editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or See other stories, blogs, videos and more at

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