How to identify a Shorthead Redhorse
The fins range from bright orange to deep red and the sides from silver to gold or bronze. They belly is lighter, ranging from dusky yellow to milk white. The fins contain only soft rays and there are no teeth. Typical of the redhorse is the single dorsal fin located near the middle of the back. The edge of the dorsal fin on the shorthead is emarginated or concave, distinguishing it from the silver redhorse, Moxostoma anisurum, in which the top edge of the dorsal fin is rounded. As its name indicates the shorthead has an unusually short head (17-19% of the fish’s total length). There are no scales on the head either.
Where to catch Shorthead Redhorse
The shorthead redhorse is a relatively widespread species of the northeastern US and Canada. Three subspecies are recognized. One is widespread in the Ohio basin, another in the Ozark uplands and adjacent areas, and the third throughout the remainder of the species’ range. Commonly referred to as the Retta-horse in the northeastern portion of its range and known for its aversion to turbid, murky waters that cause blindness, this species can only be found in areas of high water quality. The shorthead redhorse and its close relative the silver redhorse have long been used as water quality indicators throughout their range. Their combined distribution extends throughout the Great Lakes region north to the Hudson Bay, east to Montreal and Vermont, and south to South Carolina and the extreme northern portions of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Found as far west as Oklahoma in the southern U.S., Montana in the northern U.S. and Alberta in Canada. A small disjunct population occurs at a point on the border between Oklahoma and Texas. The following list includes additional details on where to catch this fish: