View Full Version : what kind of fish? is this???

04-23-2007, 03:23 PM
Russel and I are on the LR this past weekend, trying out our new waders and we were at the one lane bridge near the Back Porch. I'm looking around in the water and about 4 feet from me is what I thought was a trout. I thought hear fishy,fishy,fishy. I started to cast when I saw it move real slow. I thought I was seeing things. IT ws Crawling. I leaned forward slightly and stared. Then I freaked out. It didn't look natural and I wanted out! It was a good 12" and had a [for a lack of a better description] a catfish type head sorta flat but curved in the front then pushed. It had legs one on each side and a tail similar to a gator [once again for lack of a better description]. It crawled one way and I beelined for the shore. Anyone have a clue what that was.

04-23-2007, 03:41 PM
sounds like a hellbender. http://www.hellbenders.org

Byron Begley
04-23-2007, 04:20 PM
Hey guys,

That had to be a hellbender. I was helping the Park Service electroshock the East Prong and we caught one. It seems like it was about 18" long but that could be my imagination playing tricks on me. I took him to the holding station in a 5 gallon bucket hoping he would not wake up and get me.


04-23-2007, 06:07 PM
Thanks for the replies guys! A hellbender you say? And get you??? What would it have done? Can I get a little 411 on this guy in case I should spy one out again. Thanks, Lisa

04-23-2007, 06:23 PM
I've never seen one and I'm up there a lot. so you should feel lucky to have seen one. I think they're pretty harmless, but some get up to 29" and can bite if provoked!

04-23-2007, 06:27 PM
Thanks! I don't feel so bad for going the other way!

Byron Begley
04-23-2007, 07:10 PM
I may post some photographs of these common creatures with teeth visible, including the watershed maps on the "Tubing in the Smokies Forum".


04-23-2007, 07:38 PM
They're pretty harmless and a great environmental indicator of water quality. Mostly eat crayfish and small fish. They usually live in the depressions under rocks in streams where they catch food that is drifting. It's rare to see them moving around in the daylight, unless they are disturbed. They are totally disgusting to pickup because they have a layer of mucus (snot) surrounding their bodies. As ttas stated, they will bite if bothered.

Paula Begley
04-23-2007, 08:14 PM
I've heard them referred to as mud puppies. I have never seen one...nor do I wish to do so. :biggrin:

Call me chicken...but, I never want to see a baby alligator sized **** bender lookin up at me, kthx. :eek:


04-23-2007, 09:49 PM
Hey all,
From what I know (which is usually suspect) a mudpuppy and a hellbender are different creatures. The visible difference is that the mudpuppy has gills on the outside where as the hellbender's are inside the head. Mudpuppies look more like the old Godzilla with the flared things on his neck! They don't get quite as large as hellbenders either. I have seen a few hellbenders, you can pick one up if you hold/grab (but don't crush) it so that the front legs are between your index finger and middle finger. I have seen them as long as two feet! Awesome creature, and their eggs are about 3/4" in diameter as I recall, clear with a dot in the middle and in clusters or a clutch of about (guessing) 50-100 eggs. Never seen a mudpuppy other than photos in books. The first time I saw a hellbender was a stream sampling in the park. Seems like they have found them several times on stream samplings. Worth the trip to see what is in the creeks. I have seen several hundred trout come from a stretch of creek maybe 200 yards long...... and been skunked on the same stretch since!

Paula Begley
04-24-2007, 07:39 AM
:redface:Thanks for the clarification, John.

Now...I have to worry about TWO creatures I don't want to run into on the stream! ;)


04-24-2007, 08:23 AM
Its been several years since I have seen a "waterdog" (as we call em up here). Its illegal to kill them where I live, but some ppl do. Live and let live! Enjoy all creatures.

04-24-2007, 08:52 AM
Growing up, we would occasionally catch them when still fishing with nightcrawlers or crayfish. Strangely enough, they do make a "barking" sound when they are pulled from the water. They real treat is getting them unhooked.

04-24-2007, 07:37 PM
Could it be a Waterdog ?

04-25-2007, 12:08 PM
Those things are mean as the devil. I used to see them around here but not in a while. But that don't mean they aren't here they are pretty elusive. The last on I saw was right up the road from the house in the Clinch River here in SW VA and it was a monster. Probably the biggest I have ever saw. We were looking at it off a walk bridge and coudl see it really plain up on a flat ledge rock. I know that VDIGF was doing a survey on Hellbenders on Big Tumbling creek several years back you may be able to find some info there.