View Full Version : Targeting Larger Fish with Salamander Patterns

03-25-2008, 09:49 AM
During my Vertebrate biology class last week, we discussed amphibians. A large portion of the lecture was devoted to salamander diversity within the Appalachian Mountains. Apparently, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the "Salamander Capital of the World". In fact, there are five different families of salamanders that reside in the park: Cryptobranchidae, Proteidae, Salamandridae, Ambystomatidae, and Plethodontidae.

This discussion sparked my interest, because I was immediately reminded of the times that I had fished with live salamanders in the pond behind my house as a child. I can remember catching salamanders in the creeks, and then watching big largemouth bass go crazy over them. Those salamanders were like magical fish magnets. (Unfortunately, I could only find them readily during the spring.)

After class I started thinking that big browns might also feed readily on salamanders. After all, salamanders are amphibians, so they spend the early portion of their lives in water. Given the great diversity of salamander life within the park, it might be worth the effort to develop some salamander patterns for future experimentation.

What do you all think?


03-25-2008, 10:32 AM
I've fished salamanders, "spring lizards", in Chilhowee and the smallmouth just fight over them. However I've never caught a trout on them. We are targeting bass when we fish them.

03-25-2008, 11:36 AM
Maybe that's why my big ole black wooly bugger is so effective. I have to confess, if I can't catch a fish on anything else, swinging a wooly bugger through a pool more often than not gets some action.

Oh, wait.... I forgot. I'm a dry fly guy...

Rog 1
03-25-2008, 12:31 PM
When I have inspected the stomach contents of some of the larger trout I have caught I have never found the remainds of a "mud puppy"....however, I have found the remains of some rather large crayfish....this idea of yours might carry over with some of the crayfish imitations I have seen that are generally targeted for small and largemouth bass.....would be worth a try.

03-25-2008, 12:34 PM
I have heard from some "old timers" who say that is what you need to use to catch the large browns and claim to have caught those monster fish with this pattern. It has sparked my interest before as well, we all know they didn't get that big from eating mayflies!


03-25-2008, 03:05 PM
craig, which pattern, crayfish or salamander?

03-25-2008, 03:55 PM
Here's a thought. and I've wanted to ask you Guys about these anyway...now's a good time.

I've noticed that Orvis sells a "Gully Worm" in their Bass fly offerings, anyway, What about tying some kind of worm, shorter of course with some sort of rubber legging?
May have to get a Gully worm and de-engineer it to figure out how to tie it.

03-25-2008, 04:17 PM
Its been done. don't think its been a real effective pattern on trout, largemouth in ponds maybe.

google: Schiels Mad Dog Salamander

03-25-2008, 04:27 PM
I have heard salamanders from at least 5 different people who have fished in and around the park since they were kids and they are now older gentleman. Have yet to really try it, but hey you never know. I'm sure that if you did hook a fish with a salamander pattern, it would be one for the ages!


old tom
03-25-2008, 06:00 PM
I had the opportunity to hear Steve Moore, the Park fisheries biologist, speak a couple of weeks ago. His two main topics were the effects of the drought on Park fishing and the brook trout restoration project. If he's speaking anywhere within an hours drive of you, I recommend making the effort to hear his program. I don't know about his fishing abilities, but he forgot more about "fish" on his drive back to Gatlinburg than I'll ever know. He does a great one hour program.

Back on topic. He said that browns have a better ability to adjust their diet than bows. So while the larger and older rainbow population suffered somewhat due to low water and lack of insects, the browns changed their diet to what? Salamanders and crayfish. So sounds like if you're after big browns, these patterns have a lot of merit.

For what it's worth, he also said brookies didn't suffer too bad because they're at higher elevations, hence colder water.

Byron Begley
03-25-2008, 06:13 PM
I've fished with Steve a few times. He is an excellent dry fly fisherman. I don't think I've seen him nymph fish. He grew up in Waynesville, NC. and fished the park most of his life. He is a line mending machine.


03-25-2008, 07:19 PM
i caught a brown last year in cataloochee that was only about 9 in., but when i hooked it i thought it felt like a 12 incher...why was that? it had a really full belly...2 salamanders were in its stomach when i cleaned her, making her feel much heavier than i expected

03-25-2008, 08:31 PM
Wow, they must have been small salamanders to fit into a 9 incher. I've seen salamander on the trail up to Spence Field just below Bote Mt Trail. I remember taking my vet zoo and comp zoo classes, lot's of fun. I think this is a good idea if you are after a big un, but I doubt you get much response from the average trout, unless you tie a small version of it.

03-25-2008, 09:07 PM
I think it depends on the stream whether salamanders will work or not, because some of them are a little bit poisonous, like frogs. For example, there is a lake in Pickett State Park where you can often see hundreds of salamanders, and bass right beside them, that won't touch them.

03-26-2008, 06:42 PM
Mountain people call'm "sprang lizards"......they are deadly on big browns.

03-26-2008, 07:57 PM
Yeah spring lizards is actually what all of the older gentleman referred to them as. Floating one of those bad boys down in a deep run at dawn/dusk in the summer has got to be interesting.........


03-28-2008, 02:45 AM
actually you would probably be suprised at how big the two salamanders were. one was prob 4 in. and the other prob. 3 in. something new every day...for what its worth

04-02-2008, 10:52 AM
removed post and picture