|This is one of those
simple questions that has a complicated answer because of
the names we use for various fish. Although some fish
locally referred to as "stonecats" can be used as bait in
the Susquehanna River basin, the real "stonecat" cannot
legally be used as bait here. To answer your question, we have to look at the common and scientific names
of two related species of fish.
Stonecat (Noturus flavus) occur in the Ohio River basin, and this
species is not legal for use as bait fish in the Susquehanna River basin. The stonecat is found
throughout the Mississippi River and Great Lakes watersheds. It is not found in
Atlantic Coast streams south of the Hudson River. In Pennsylvania, the stonecat
is the most common madtom of the western part of the state, living in the Ohio
River and Lake Erie watersheds, and can be locally plentiful.
Licensed bait dealers should be familiar with and use the proper scientific
names to avoid confusion associated with common names. For example, it's
illegal to sell "stonecats" (noturus flavus) as bait in the
Susquehanna River basin.
The margined madtom of eastern Pennsylvania is widely distributed and abundant. Margined
madtom (Noturus insignis) occur in the Susquehanna River basin and they
are legal for use (and sale) as bait fish. Confusion exists because some anglers refer to margined madtoms as
"stonecats." Both fish species look superficially similar.
Obviously, confusion can arise from the use (or misuse) of the common names of
these two species of fish. Anglers need not worry about the species of Noturus that they catch in
the wild from the Susquehanna River basin. These fish are margined madtom,
and anglers can use them as bait. Bait dealers may lawfully sell margined madtom catfish as
bait fish in the Susquehanna River basin.
In Pennsylvania there are
six madtom species. Some are rare, like the mountain, brindled, tadpole and
northern madtoms. Madtoms have poison glands at the base of their pectoral
spines. If handled improperly, they can give a sting as painful as a bee sting. Click here to learn more about madtoms.
To see the list of fish species authorized for introduction/propagation in
various watersheds, click here.