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Stonecats
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Joined:
2006/9/9 17:32
From Gettysburg
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In a recent stream report I indicated using a "stonecat" fly. For many PA FFers, this is an unusual pattern and not typically associated with trout fishing. Local river folks who fish bait for smallies, however, are very familiar with this critter.

The term "stonecat" is actually a misnomer and refers to a madtom found in western PA. The fish we have in the Susky/Potomac watershed is actually the marginated madtom. However, local folks have always called marginated madtoms "stonecats." Afishinado will tell you that locals in his home stomping grounds around Wilkes Barre call 'em "catties." They're a popular live bait.

Marginated madtoms are a shy, mysterious, largely nocturnal little catfish and many river anglers have never seen one. Bait fishermen often get them by seining weedy riffle areas at night or carefully feeling for them under rocks with their hands. Bass eat 'em like candy and, in my opinion, really key on the image of a stonecat. I love 'em, and stonecat flies are go-to patterns for summer bass for me, especially in clear water.

The fly I was using is one of a series of flies I've designed utilizing paint and craft felt. Like many of my personal patterns, it is realistic and detailed.
A much easier stonecat pattern would be tan or light brown sculpin wool for the head, a tan fur or chenille body, and a long tail of tan marabou. Tie a dumbbell weight Clouser style under the head so the fly swims hook upward and trim the head flat. Rubber band whiskers add a nice touch. The key, however, is to keep the fly very slender and very long.

Marginated madtoms are usually 2-5" in length and have a paddle like tail with a black edge; body is usually pinkish yellow on the ventral, light brown on the flanks, and olive over the back. You want a fly that swims with lots of motion and gets deep. I tie medium and very heavy versions.

The image below is an illustration I did of marginated madtoms based on a group of specimens I caught in central PA. Note the slender body, rounded tail that blends into the body like an eel, yellow fins, and square head with short whiskers.

Attach file:



jpg  Stoncats2.jpg (108.87 KB)
26_55d7d95d387f9.jpg 973X749 px

jpg  SC1.jpg (39.55 KB)
26_55d7d9797ac5a.jpg 500X227 px

Posted on: 2015/8/21 22:13

Edited by Fishidiot on 2015/8/21 22:32:57
Edited by Fishidiot on 2015/8/22 23:01:02


Re: Stonecats

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2006/9/13 22:36
From Tioga co. formerly of bucks co.
Posts: 306
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nice, I've never seen one in pine, will have to look for them.

Posted on: 2015/8/22 6:14
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Re: Stonecats

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2006/9/20 7:20
From SE Pa.
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We use to catch them all the time in the creek that flows out of Pecks Pond

Posted on: 2015/8/22 8:50


Re: Stonecats

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Some guy at the campground we were staying at gave us some stonecats when he was leaving the river, because he had limited out.

They were much darker in color than shown in your illustrations. They were a very dark olive color, nearly black. Except for a light area (buff/tan) on the belly.

But these were dead, so maybe they darkened in color from when they were alive?

Even though the stonecats were dead, we used them the next morning, and had some of the most amazing fishing I've ever experienced. The smallmouth really went crazy over them.

So coming up with a good stonecat pattern seems like a worthwhile thing for those who fish the river a lot.

Posted on: 2015/8/22 9:20


Re: Stonecats

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2006/9/9 17:18
From lancaster county
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Thank you for this post Dave

Posted on: 2015/8/22 21:24
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Re: Stonecats

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2010/7/31 14:41
From SCPA
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We used to catch them while seining for hellgrammites in the susky and juniata when I was a kid. The ones we would catch were black. Never really looked to closely to them, as we were always keyed in on the helgies, but they were definitely very dark in color.

Posted on: 2015/8/22 22:00


Re: Stonecats
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Interesting note on the dark coloration.
There's different species of madtoms, but as far as I know, the marginated madtom is the only one that is common in the Susky watershed. Perhaps they exhibit some seasonal, spawning, or regional coloration variations(?).

The ones I've seen have been mostly light colored on the sides but dark over the back. Often the top of the head is dark but the flanks are often pinkish tan or light brown. Bigger ones do tend to be darker. Although commonly associated with WW rivers, curiously, the biggest one I've seen was in Kettle Creek. I saw it dead near shore and I though it was a bullhead but when I kicked it, it became clear that it was a MM - several inches long and the head was about an inch wide. Most of the "stonecats" I've seen in my seining efforts have been in the range of 3 inches.

I tried putting a couple in my aquarium once. They just vanished into the rocks and I never saw 'em again - had to clean out the tank.

They're really cool critters!

Posted on: 2015/8/22 22:58


Re: Stonecats

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2007/3/28 11:30
From Annville, Pa
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Thanks for the info on Stonecats! Quite interesting. I tied a few clouser madtoms up but wasn't sure when to use them or what the right color was. The problem with the clouser madtom is they are heavy with the lead eyes and a lot of rabbit fur. I have heard big bass prefer them as a meal choice. A good easy imitation would be valuable in targeting SMB around susky and juniata.

Posted on: 2015/8/23 9:09
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Re: Stonecats

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Nice pattern Dave. That should put em in the net

Posted on: 2015/8/23 23:17
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Re: Stonecats

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2011/3/6 0:34
From Dauphin
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That's a very sweet tie fishidiot. I'm sure that cleans up

Posted on: 2015/8/24 11:23
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Re: Stonecats

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2009/2/23 16:32
From Wrightsville
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Thanks for the post. Great illustration. I'll have to save that somewhere for the next time I try to tie a couple.








Posted on: 2015/8/25 20:35


Re: Stonecats

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2008/6/25 9:41
From Pgh
Posts: 185
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Cool post, pictures and tie, Dave. The fly looks strikingly like the real thing. You don't see that too often in the fly world. Most ties seem to be rough, impressionistic indicators of what they're imitating.

Posted on: 2015/8/26 11:37
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Re: Stonecats

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2013/12/8 21:26
From Granville
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Stonecats are without a doubt the best summertime smallmouth bait in the Juniata. A friend and I took someone fishing a few weeks ago and he is not a fisherman by any means. We rigged him up with live stonecats and we fly fished.....he landed 3 bass over 18" in short time while we struck out. Excellent bait that river smallmouths love and a great looking fly.

Posted on: 2015/8/27 0:01


Re: Stonecats

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Quote:

jifigz wrote:
Stonecats are without a doubt the best summertime smallmouth bait in the Juniata. A friend and I took someone fishing a few weeks ago and he is not a fisherman by any means. We rigged him up with live stonecats and we fly fished.....he landed 3 bass over 18" in short time while we struck out. Excellent bait that river smallmouths love and a great looking fly.


What color were they? Light to medium colored as shown here?

Or very dark olive to black, as some of us discussed above?






Posted on: 2015/8/27 9:11


Re: Stonecats

Joined:
2008/8/24 20:26
From Mount Joy, PA
Posts: 178
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With regards to a fly pattern, I would have to think some type of zonker sculpin helmet fly would clean up quite well...

Posted on: 2015/8/27 18:50



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