View Full Version : Avoiding Non-Edible Species (Survival Fishing)

12-06-2010, 09:59 AM
Most of us include fishing as a way to secure a protein source in a survival situation. Targeting small fish species to include fish as small as minnows, etc. While most of us are familiar with the edible species of game and non-game fish. It dawned on me last night that I have not seen any discussion about the possibility of some smallish fish possibly being inedible or even poisonous. I know that one of the Gar species, I think (Florida Gar) has meat above the lateral line that is actually poisonous if not removed when dressing this specie. Again, I am drawing on a memory from years ago when I lived in FL so I may have the wrong specie it could be the Longnose Gar instead. I plan to investigate this some and thought I'd pose the question here as well.

12-06-2010, 10:12 AM
I'm not aware of any specie that is poisonous in the Midwest. Unless, of course, something has been released into our waters that isn't native to the region.

12-06-2010, 10:56 AM
I found this interesting, however I am looking for inedible species...I guess I'd probably throw this guy back though, if he was in my minnow stir fry!

Yellowfin madtom, Noturus flavipinnis, female.—The yellowfin madtom is a small catfish that is endemic to the Tennessee River drainage. Once widespread, this bottom-dwelling denizen of slow pools and runs now persists in fragmented, broadly isolated creek populations. It is presently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, but some biologist think it may need to be upgraded to endangered status because of the continuing decline throughout its limited range. Experimental populations of yellowfin madtoms have been established in Citico Creek, in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, by scientists from Conservation Fisheries, Inc., (a non-profit enterprise that specializes in the propagation of southeastern imperiled fishes). The catfish family Ictaluridae, the only family of fishes endemic to North America, contains many well-known larger species, such as channel catfish and bullheads, but few realize that most native catfishes are small in size, seldom exceeding 150mm (6 inches) in total length. Called "madtoms," these often-secretive fishes are largely nocturnal and are noted for being one of the few poisonous freshwater fishes. The leading rays of the dorsal and pectoral fins have become fused into spines, and have a ductless poison gland located at the spine base. In some species, the pectoral spines are edged with formidable appearing saw-like teeth called "serrae". Indeed, the sting from these spines can be quite painful, but is most often compared to a nasty wasp sting. The origin of the name "madtom" is unknown, but may allude to the spontaneous reaction upon being stung. As a group, madtoms are disproportionately imperiled (e.g., half of the 16 species in Southern Appalachia). For unknown reasons, these diminutive catfishes are unable to cope with pollution and degradation of creeks and rivers.


12-06-2010, 11:19 AM
Here is an interesting fact about Longnose Gar eggs.

Longnose Gar

"Gars can often be seen lying almost motionless, basking near the water's surface. An interesting fact about gars is that their eggs are poisonous."


12-06-2010, 01:01 PM
Okay, in hindsight there are two. The Madtoms and the eggs of gar fish. Other than that, though..........

12-06-2010, 02:22 PM
Now are you saying that the madtoms meat is poisonous or just the spine/venom? I was unaware of any fresh water fish flesh being poisonous. I know that there are several salt water varieties that their flesh is poisonous.

12-06-2010, 04:08 PM

I was just researching and giving information sources. As you said I was unaware of any poisonous freshwater fish so far as being edible. I simply challenged the generalization in my mind and in most literature, as I know there are well over 200 species considered to be minnows. The "Mad Tom" may be an exception, I am not sure how dangerous it would be if consumed. The link suggests it is the equivalent to a wasp sting. A wasp sting in the mouth could be deadly for some in a survival scenario. To sum it up after having researched throughout several sources. Your probably safe with freshwater fish that when prepared exceeded boiling temps. Me if I spot a "Mad Tom" in my catch, I'll throw him back in the drink, carefully! Perhaps you could break the barb off and eat the little guy, much the same as a wasp....

12-06-2010, 04:51 PM
Looks like it's just in the spines.


Anyone that's ever been jabbed by a catfish can attest to how bad they hurt. Some more than others and now I know why. I'm pretty careful handling catfish only because I don't want jabbed. I'll be extra careful from now on.

12-06-2010, 05:02 PM
Looks like it's just in the spines.


Anyone that's ever been jabbed by a catfish can attest to how bad they hurt. Some more than others and now I know why. I'm pretty careful handling catfish only because I don't want jabbed. I'll be extra careful from now on.

Good info Rick! I remember catfishing in a pay pond in MS as a youth. One catfish in particular stung me good, it fealt like a wasp sting though there was no puncture wound. I now think it may have been a "Madtom". I am an avid catfisher and never had that happen again. Now there was that critter in FL refered to as a Sail Catfish (Salt Water Species) I should have never stepped on that guy! Lets just say I couldn't remove my shoe without a knife! Ouch!

12-06-2010, 05:13 PM
When I was stationed in Hawaii, my roommate was from one of the other islands (Kauai). He took me to a popular Japanese restaurant on Kauai that was known for it's blowfish (a Japanese delicacy). He explained that the chefs that prepare blowfish are in training for years and years before they are "certified" for lack of a better term. The toxins in blowfish are extremely deadly - more so than cyanide. He said that even with all of that training, when they prepared a batch, they would feed a small sample to the cats in the back alley. If the cats were still around after a brief wait, the customers were served.

I did not order blowfish that evening.

01-14-2011, 02:12 PM
oh no poisonous fish in our waters? not naturally poisonous but bingeing on trinity river catfish can make you very sick

01-14-2011, 08:23 PM
Or the ones out of a local lake contaminated with mercury. Love the signs they put up. A fish on a plate with a knife and fork, with the red Do Not circle over them. Still see people fishing there.

01-15-2011, 01:54 AM
As an avid fisherman (mostly catfish,crappie,bream and white bass during the spring run) over a lifetime of experience I seldom see anything I don't recognize till I take a trip south to saltwater. Like most of you folks that forage the woods for food I wouldn't eat any fish that there was a ?? about it being etable. However , the odds of landing a freshwater fish that would do you harm is very small. I've ate gar just to see how it was(not the best believe me) but if I wasin a fix for food it might taste some better. If times call for me to depend on the river to supply a bigger portion of our food(it supplies alot now) I'll catch what bites and go from there. My advice would be if you don't know it and there's any doubt(fish,animal or plant) take care.