NANFA-- eating stonerollers

Christopher Scharpf (
Tue, 07 Jan 2003 22:43:11 -0400

Bruce is right. In the Great Smokies region of eastern Tennessee, central
stonerollers -- not river chubs -- are valued as food. Here anglers gather
along creeks to catch "hornyheads" (river chubs are called knottyheads). So
popular are stonerollers in this neck of the woods that anglers toss them in
creels and throw the trout back! My source for this info is:

Lennon, R. E., and P. S. Parker. 1960. The stoneroller, Campostoma anomalum
(Rafinesque), in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Transactions of the
American Fisheries Society 89: 263-270.

In the early 1970s, the stoneroller was at the center of a heated dispute
between hornyhead aficionados and commercial bait collectors. The completion
of two major reservoirs in the region created a demand for a hardy bait
minnow, for which stonerollers fit the bill. Bait collectors purportedly
were able to capture several thousand stonerollers a night, alarming
stoneroller anglers who feared their fishery was being decimated. Through
the organized voice of a local rod and gun club, the stoneroller anglers got
the sale of their favored fish outlawed in five Tennessee counties. A
healthy black market in hornyheads quickly ensued. My source for this info

Burkhead, N. M. 1980. The life history of the stoneroller minnow Campostoma
a. anomalum (Rafinesque) in five streams in east Tennessee. Tennessee
Wildlife Resources Agency Technical Report No. 80-50. Nashville, Tn. 84 pp.

Chris Scharpf

>> I'm surprised that the consensus on the palatability of stonerollers is so
>> negative. In the eastern Tennessee hill counties like Washington and
>> Johnson, the local people usually consider stoneroller to be good and
>> bitterly resent trout stocking programs because they view trout as
>> inferior to stoneroller. They call stonerollers "hornyhead" because of the
>> nuptial males' appearance. Of course, they prefer to eat large
>> individuals, and the fish come from cold, clear highland streams.
> Actually, I think there may be some confusion due to the common name. There
> is another "hornyhead", AKA river chub. I have eaten them, but never
> stonerollers. River chubs are pretty tasty, as I recall.
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