Stonecat - Noturus flavus
The stonecat is one of two native catfish species in the state. It is widespread throughout all of eastern Montana, preferring to live in cracks and crevices of rocks and logs in streams, rivers or on wave-swept shorelines of lakes. Like other catfish, it is an early-summer nest-building spawner. Stonecats seldom exceed 8-10 inches in length and thus do not provide a sport fishery. They are, however, renowned for inflicting a nasty sting on those who handle them and are unfortunate enough to be poked by the spines on their pectoral or dorsal fins.
Overall yellowish brown; back darker, underside light yellow or white. Tail is rectangular and not forked. Adipose fin merges into the caudal peduncule and not separated like a bullhead or channel catfish.
Western Hemisphere Range
This species is widespread throughout all of eastern Montana rivers and is expanding it's range up colder trout rivers and streams that may be warming and more suitable for colonization (Madison, Smith, Missouri Rivers)
Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations:
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(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)
Swift-water areas of streams among rocks or under logs; also lakes over sand and gravel bottom where there is wave action. Found mainly in flowing water over rocky substrates in lower Yellowstone River drainage study. Also found in riffle habitat in middle Missouri River study.
Largely aquatic insects and small fish. Known to eat spawn of other fishes.
Probably an important benthic insect eater in large rivers and may be a prey fish for nocturnal predators such as walleye and sauger, or large brown trout in cool water systems.
Spawns June - Aug. in moderate current. Incubation: 1 - 2 weeks. Young guarded by parents. Spawning peaks late June.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
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- Barfoot, C.A. 1993. Longitudinal distribution of fishes and habitat in Little Beaver Creek, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 66 p.
- Clancey, C.G. 1978. The fish and aquatic invertebrates in Sarpy Creek, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 54 p.
- Hendricks, P., S. Lenard, D.M. Stagliano, and B.A. Maxell. 2013. Baseline nongame wildlife surveys on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Report to the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, MT. 83 p.
- Mullen, J.A. 2007. Spatiotemporal variation of fish assemblages in Montana prairie streams. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 102 p.
- Mullins, M.S. 1991. Biology and predator use of cisco (Coregonus artedi) in Fort Peck Reservoir, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 68 p.
- Penkal, R.F. 1977. Black bass populations of the Tongue River Reservoir, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 111 p.
- Pierce, B.E. 1963. Distribution of fish in a small mountain stream in relation to temperature. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 16 p.
- Rosenthal, L.R. 2007. Evaluation of distribution and fish passage in relation to road culverts in two eastern Montana prairie streams. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 78 p.
- Stash, S.W. 2001. Distribution, relative abundance, and habitat associations of Milk River fishes related to irrigation diversion dams. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 82 p.
- Stringer, A.L. 2018. Status of Northern Pearl Dace and chrosomid dace in prairie streams of Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 150 p.
- Sundeen, D.R. 1968. Abundance and movement of young trout in a portion of the Madison River, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, Montana: Montana State University. 19 p.
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