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Cyberfish

Bullheads don't sting!

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I remember when I was a little fisher and caught my first bullhead, my dad and uncle warned me that they can sting you and used a very long pliers to remove the hook, then slit the poor fishes belly before tossing it back, as to prevent another fisher from catching it and getting a nasty sting!
Well, as you can imagine, I was terrified of the wiskered fish, until I found out it was just a "old wives tale" They don't, and cannot sting! Those wiskers are for finding food, they are not stingers. Sure, their fins have spines that can stick ya good, but so do many other fish, such as catfish and bluegills.
So if you get a baby bullhead in your bait bucket, don't be afraid to put it on your hook. A hungry game fish will gulp it up, "stingers" and all.

Cyb

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Cyberfish,
You are correct about the barbels, they cannot sting you and are used to find food. Fish in the family Ictaluridae (catfish family), which includes the catfish, bullheads, and madtoms (most of the little bullhead looking guys that you find in your minnow bucket), can give you a nasty sting from their dorsal and pectoral fins. If you look at the posterior edge of the spine you will see that they are barbed, they also inject a mild venom (madtoms have the most developed venom). Some people can have pretty bad reactions to the venom but for the most part all it does is cause the sting area to swell and it is quite painful for a day or so. So do be careful when handling these fish, but by all means treat them with respect and return them to the water the way they came (unless you are planning on taking them for a tasty meal!) smile.gif.

------------------
Adam Johnson
www.adamjohnsonfishing.com

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I learned about that old tale, too, as a boy. Although I have stepped on a couple of those little stonecats and madtoms when I was wading barefoot in the marsh mud, as boys will do. Spines, and a little bit of venom. Ouch! Talk about a swollen foot.

I think that the spiny fins might put off some fish, though. Most game fish prefer soft-finned prey like tulibee, suckers and such, rather than sunfish and bullheads (not that they won't take whatever they can get). I hear bullheads make good live bait for flathead catfish, though. I suppose a fellow could cut off the fins.

[This message has been edited by stfcatfish (edited 10-14-2002).]

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Ouch!I have been stuck quite a few times.Even cats can cause some pain for a day or two but if handled carefully no problem.
I can say that game fish do like bullheads.not only cats but walleye eat them up.I ran out of fatheads fishing for eyes this weekend and had a dozen or so bullies so I used them and they worked just as well.I didn't even need to cut the spines.They also stay on the hook better.Its hard to rip the hook through that hard mouth.

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Adam, so they do sting?!Thanks for the info. yikes! I guess I was going by my own experiences with them. I have got stuck by em many times and though it hurt, I never had any lasting effects or swelling, but mabye different people do have a reaction to them, sorta like with bees.

The worst I have got nailed by a fish was by a bluegill. It stuck me good, and I thought it was over, but it wouldnt heal. In a couple of weeks it got infected and red , then it turned kinda green, finnally went to the doc, He cut into it and found a peice of the spine still in there. He got it out and gave me some huge pills to take to fight the infection. He also said if I waited much longer it woulda been bye bye finger!

Cyb

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I never heard the sting with whiskers myth. Getting stung by a bullhead or cat is meant by most to be poked with a pectorl or dorsel fin. It hurts like heck to get poked by one. Usuallly the fish will try and trust one into ya when you get a hold of it. Ive been poked by madtoms and it does swell up.
Ya perch gill covers are razor sharp at the tip.

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Dark and I seined the bullies from a creek.The ones that worked the best were the smaller ones(under three inches)but that was only because the fish in the area were under 16inches.They hit the bigger bullies but I couldn't get a hook into the fish.

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I've had bullheads sting before; yes. But I have NEVER had a swell from one. Felt about the same as a Bluegill spine. The worst fish for spikyness in my opnion is a Perch; I have had small swells/pain that wouldn't go away for awhile from the spines on their gills.

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CYB

I know you idolize GEM CLUB JIM and all, but to give up a finger just so you can look more like him?? Don't ya think that's just a little extreme?

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SAFE HOLD -
Those dorsal & pectoral spines are NASTY!!!
Try this, with or with out a glove.
Palm upwards, make that "Live-long & Prosper" Spock wave.
Bullhead belly-down in yer palm, facing you
Use fingers to slip under, up & behind the pectorals
Curl thumb down hard on the top of it's head

Now the fish is secure, even when it thrashes, and the hook is facing you. This grip is also handy when cleaning them, to snap off the head & entrails from the ribby carcass, and during skinning.

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<)/////><{
RobertC

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