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Don Kirk
11-03-2011, 08:37 AM
I just received release from the Georgia DNR regarding their concern for what appears to be declining numbers of hellbenders in their streams. I have only encountered one of the lizards in park waters, an 18-incher on the smallmouth bass portion of Abrams Creek. I was standing in shin deep water beside it, at first thinking it was an old boot. Itís head was about 5-inches across.

Has anyone here encountered many hellbenders, or mud dogs as we called them when I was growing up. Itís my understanding there is only one species east of the Mississippi, then another in the Ozarks. Several years ago I caught a two-footer on a Muddler while smallmouth bass fishing in the Nolichucky. It was more slender than the ones I have seen in mountain streams. Its ribs had red or orange splashes, color depending on if you call Tennessee orange, orange, or Auburn orange, orange (or as Bama fans refer to Auburn orange as U-Haul orange)

The one I caught was pretty darn aggressive or at the least unhappy about meeting me. I preferred not to actually handle it, as when I was kid I had heard their skin emitted toxins, which even at the time I caught the mud dog I knew was not true, but nonetheless, I did not want to handle it. Using the switchblade I keep in my wading boots, to release the thing I filleted away that portion of the hellbenderís lip where the fly was embedded.

Does anyone here know how common the salamanders are in these parts? They could be as common as dirt, but rarely seen. Just curious here.

MadisonBoats
11-03-2011, 08:43 AM
I just received release from the Georgia DNR regarding their concern for what appears to be declining numbers of hellbenders in their streams. I have only encountered one of the lizards in park waters, an 18-incher on the smallmouth bass portion of Abrams Creek. I was standing in shin deep water beside it, at first thinking it was an old boot. Itís head was about 5-inches across.

Has anyone here encountered many hellbenders, or mud dogs as we called them when I was growing up. Itís my understanding there is only one species east of the Mississippi, then another in the Ozarks. Several years ago I caught a two-footer on a Muddler while smallmouth bass fishing in the Nolichucky. It was more slender than the ones I have seen in mountain streams. Its ribs had red or orange splashes, color depending on if you call Tennessee orange, orange, or Auburn orange, orange (or as Bama fans refer to Auburn orange as U-Haul orange)

The one I caught was pretty darn aggressive or at the least unhappy about meeting me. I preferred not to actually handle it, as when I was kid I had heard their skin emitted toxins, which even at the time I caught the mud dog I knew was not true, but nonetheless, I did not want to handle it. Using the switchblade I keep in my wading boots, to release the thing I filleted away that portion of the hellbenderís lip where the fly was embedded.

Does anyone here know how common the salamanders are in these parts? They could be as common as dirt, but rarely seen. Just curious here.

I have never caught a hellbender. They look pretty mean and cool. I met a student from Ark or Texas last year on the Clinch. He was doing some water tests for a thesis about hellbenders. I told him I had never seen any on the Clinch; but, that did not mean they were not there...He said there had been some found on the Clinch. It was interesting to chat with him and to see some of the field work involved in these studies.

Troutman
11-03-2011, 09:33 AM
I have only seen one and almost stepped on it while wading in the lower little river several years ago. I thought it was a snake at first but after it moved I realized what it was.
There was another thread on this awhile back with a few picts.

http://littleriveroutfitters.com/forum/showthread.php?t=10522&highlight=hellbender

this just proves....theres a website for just about everything!

http://www.hellbenders.org/The_Hellbender_Homepage/Home.html

JoelO
11-03-2011, 10:17 AM
One popped up next to me many years ago while I was fishing on the Hiwassee...scared the dickens out of me.

Byron Begley
11-03-2011, 11:10 AM
I was helping the Park Service sample Little River at Metcalf Bottoms probably 15 years ago. We shocked one and it ended up in my bucket. It was a big one, maybe 18" long if I remember correctly. Scared the heck out of me carrying that bucket to the bank. I saw one laying on the bottom of either the Clinch or Hiwassee river a long time ago. I caught one or two when I was a kid on the Kentucky River. We called them Mud Puppies in Kentucky.

Byron

flyfishnsleep
11-03-2011, 12:34 PM
I spent a couple summers recently sampling hellbenders in the Little river and the Hiwassee river, both rivers support populations of hellbenders.
The hiwassee is loaded with them. There are quite a few in little river as well but there numbers are not what they used to be, that goes for the whole state. Hellbenders are an indicator species, they require cool clean fast flowing water, habitat loss has significantly reduced their range.

I'm not sure what the conservation status is for them in TN but most states they are found in have them listed as near threatened to endangered. I know they are a protected species in TN.

Here is a picture of one from the little river.

http://littleriveroutfitters.com/forum/<a href=


They may look menacing but they are harmless and if you are lucky enough to encounter one while on the water make sure to leave them be.

Knothead
11-03-2011, 02:32 PM
I have only seen one in my total of 28 years in Tennessee. When a student at TWC, another student found one trapped in a hole in a rock when the generators shut down. Brought it to class and we kept it in a cooled tank for a couple of days, then he released it back on the Hiwassee.
FYI: the hellbender is Cryptobranchus alleganiensis; the mud puppy or waterdog is Necturus maculosus. They are two different salamanders. College prof. was real big on salamanders. Spent a lot of time in the outdoors for his class on mammalian zoology. I remember my grandfather telling about the poison bags on the neck of the water dog; turns out they are actually gills.

JohnH0802
11-03-2011, 02:45 PM
I ran in to one a year or two back on Looking Glass Creek just above the Davidson in NC. I think I may have even posted some photos of it on here somewhere.

No Hackle
11-03-2011, 06:12 PM
Don saw my one and only one @ Abrams Creek campground in a long flat section. It was pretty shallow where this one was. He or she kept going from his rock to out in the pool.
Lynn

BlueRaiderFan
11-03-2011, 08:36 PM
I saw one in the early 90's by the indian head.

JoeFred
11-03-2011, 11:22 PM
One popped up next to me many years ago while I was fishing on the Hiwassee...scared the dickens out of me.

What Joel said. Big ol, orangy-tan rascal.

TNBigBore
11-04-2011, 03:05 PM
I have seen three on the Hiwassee since the 1970s and one on Rough Creek which is a tributary of the Ocoee. That one was about 18-20" and was missing an eye and a front leg. He was a mean rascal. My father caught him after turning over a big rock and he definitely would have bitten us if we had not been careful. My grandfather caught a really big one in a fish trap on the Hiwassee back in the 1930s. I remember a picture of him holding it up for camera. It looked to be well over 20". I don't recall ever catching one while sampling with TWRA or the Park Service.

fishhead
11-04-2011, 03:32 PM
the Davidson is full of them.. clean water cold water there. seen many never caught one and thankful of that.
fishhead

Slipstream
11-08-2011, 11:00 AM
My post here several years ago showed a hellbender eating a trout that I had just caught and released. The literature suggests that hellbenders don't often feed on trout, but I witnessed otherwise.

There have been other posts here of hellbender encounters on Deep Creek as well.

Jim Casada
11-08-2011, 12:29 PM
Slipstream--At least a half dozen times in my life, and always in Deep Creek, I have seen a hellbender with a trout in its mouth. In every instance I would notice something white on the creek bottom and, looking closer, would discover it was a trout's belly (with a part of the trout being in the mouth of a hellbender). I would also add that from time to time as a boy I caught them on throwlines/trot lines, They are still present in Deep Creek in appreciable numbers.
Jim Casada

Knothead
11-09-2011, 09:46 AM
Amphibians are the "canary in the coal mine" as they are an indication of water quality. Some parts of the world, amphibians are disappearing due to the lack of environmental standards for air and water quality. For funsies, turn over leaves in sinkholes or around a spring. When we camped, I would take the kids on a salamander hunting expedition. We would put one or two in a bowl of cold water and watch them for a while. We always turned them loose.

grouser
01-07-2012, 08:49 PM
http://littleriveroutfitters.com/forum/album.php?albumid=113&pictureid=693[/URL]This Hellbender was found in November, 2011 along the East prong of the Little River, the only time that I have seen Hellbenders and Mud Puppys out of the water has been in the Fall, may have something to do with mating, but they do that in the water, so I'm not sure if they are just more active or it is a coincidence. This salamander was about 18" long.
http://littleriveroutfitters.com/forum/album.php?albumid=113&pictureid=696 (http://littleriveroutfitters.com/forum/album.php?albumid=113&pictureid=693)
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http://littleriveroutfitters.com/forum/album.php?albumid=113&pictureid=694
http://littleriveroutfitters.com/forum/album.php?albumid=113&pictureid=695
http://littleriveroutfitters.com/forum/album.php?albumid=113&pictureid=693http: (http://littleriveroutfitters.com/forum/album.php?albumid=113&pictureid=693)
http://littleriveroutfitters.com/forum/album.php?albumid=113&pic (http://littleriveroutfitters.com/forum/album.php?albumid=113&pictureid=693)
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http://littleriveroutfitters.com/forum/album.php?albumid=113&pictureid=691 (http://littleriveroutfitters.com/forum/album.php?albumid=113&pictureid=693)
http://littleriveroutfitters.com/forum/album.php?albumid=113&pictureid=692 (http://littleriveroutfitters.com/forum/album.php?albumid=113&pictureid=693)

Knothead
01-08-2012, 03:57 PM
Going back to college cays, we went up on the Hiwassee in mid-January during a warm snap. We set up traps- #10 cans in the ground and a 100 foot fence. The salamanders would come out of the mountains and head for the pools along the river to mate. They would go along the fence and fall into the cans. We took data and turned them loose. Kept a couple for the Prof's lab. Two fellows were by a pool and saw their mating ritual call the Love Dance (Ger.- Liebspiel as the Prof. called it).
I'm wondering what you are calling a mudpuppy. There a number of salamanders in east Tennessee and the Smokies.

Jim Casada
01-08-2012, 07:34 PM
John--The name I've always heard mountain folks use is water dog, which is a synonym for hellbender. When I was part of stream sampling in Deep Creek this summer we shocked up a bunch of them. To my knowledge (which is limited to personal experience and with no scientific backing) they live in streams. The only time I've ever seen one out of the water was when it was caught on a trot line, throw line, fishing line, or by shocking.
They are singularly ugly creatures and I've seen them up to close to two feet in length.
Jim Casada

BlueRaiderFan
01-08-2012, 08:19 PM
If I remember correctly they are our largest salamander.

psnapp
01-09-2012, 09:31 AM
Several years ago I almost stepped on 2 on the Clinch, and oddly enough at the same time. Both were about 10" long, and one was firmly clamped in the jaws of the other. I would describe their coloration as a mottled brown.

Phil

TNBigBore
01-09-2012, 12:56 PM
If I remember correctly they are our largest salamander.


If I remember correctly, they are the second largest salamander in the world behind the Asian giant salamander which looks like a scaled up version of the hellbender.

Don Kirk
01-12-2012, 06:08 PM
As a boy back during WWII, he and a buddy put out a trotline near the mouth of the Little Chucky on the Nolichucky River in Greene County. One night on a 40 hook line they caught 38 muddogs, all about 10" long. He said they fly in swarms, and are better than frog legs cooked in lard. Go figure.

Thanks to all who came by to say hello to Greg Ward and me at Wiliderness Week in Pigeon Forge. We are hotly pursuing the whereabouts of the cane splitting equipment old Ern used in the 1930s. Whatta wonderful find it would be.

BlueRaiderFan
01-13-2012, 11:07 AM
If I remember correctly, they are the second largest salamander in the world behind the Asian giant salamander which looks like a scaled up version of the hellbender.


Didn't realize that. I'll have to look that Asian one up and take a look.

T.E.Shuler
01-17-2012, 05:33 AM
I took pictures of one on the Tuckasegee River back in November. I'll look and see if I can find the pictures. You have to look close but you can see him. He had an 8 inch brown trout in its mouth.

Three years ago on Deep Creek, my little girl was rolling rocks looking for Stonefly nymphs and found a juvenile Hellbender. I was fishing just above jump off rock and she was beside me near the bank on the rocky beach. She came over to me and had it in her nalgene bottle. I put it back unharmed. It was cool to see it and to know they are alive and well. Because of her find, we left that area so that if there were any more in the rocks, we wouldn't step on them.

Jim Casada
01-17-2012, 01:06 PM
Eugene--That's the way I've seen most of the water dogs I've witnessed over the years--the white belly of a trout reveals them. The first time I ever reched down in the water to check out the dead trout I was only 11 or 12 years old. When I discovered it was attached to something two feet long that looked like a prehistoric monster I did some serious high stepping. I think water dogs (or hellbenders) are probably more prevalent than we realize, at least in clean streams. They have excellent camouflage and aren't by any stretch readily discernible.
Jim Casada

WNCFLY
02-02-2012, 02:17 PM
I have seen lots of mudpuppies in the Tuck. They are some weird looking creatures for sure.