Gary Welcome to the BOC, from So. Illinois. Some state have laws on using muscles. Not sure about Ky. Fish like them, and will feed on them. Sometimes you can catch a fish and they will rattle from the shells inside.
I would highly recommend you not use any clams/muscles that you find in your local waters. I work with aquatic applicators and attend their training. I found out last fall that most native mucles/clams are not threatened or endangered and that possession or harm can result in large fines, jail, or both.
If you have Zebra Mussels in your area, then if the native species are not on the decline, they will be. These Zebras will cover and starve all native species in their area.
growing up i used mussels for bait a lot, especially during high water. we would dig the sand around the bank and find them about the size of a quarter. we'd split them open, cast them upstream, and let them float down without any weight. the channels really liked them there. during the spring in several waters around here, you can find mussels bigger than your had all along the bank. the racoons love them, but i have never caught a fish in still water with mussels.
Out here we can find them around the spillways on the canals. Im not sure but I think that they are called zebra mussles. Channels can be caught with loads of them in their bellies. I dont know about flatheads though. I only catch them on fish.
We used to use freshwater clam meat on Lake Havasu when I was kid, but we used them to catch baitfish, then we'd use the bluegills we caught for channel cats. But as some of the other guys have been saying, some shellfish are protected , so do your research,or pay the piper.
Gary I fished w/ clam meat last year just b4 huntin season came in and I caught a right # of white and bullhead cats!! But Ive been reading about the protected ones and since I dont want to waste the time to find out which is which Id just go w/ cut-bait, livers, night crawlers, ect...... the list is very long!!
Here in Ohio our clams don't have muscles. The ones that do will kick you a$$ if you mess with them.... j/k
Mussels are completely protected in Ohio. That said, when I was young (25 years ago), I knew of "friends" that used them. They were absolutely killer bait for channels and it was reputed to be excellent Blue Cat bait. Remember that a big cat can and does crush clam shells regularly (talk about fiber for your diet) so I guess God does have a reason for it.
I know I have found alot of muscles in channels but trying to get them and the grief your gonna get when that one boat rolls up on ya aint worth it,I aint possitive but I am prety sure there protected here tooooh: