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Old 11-03-2011, 08:37 AM
Don Kirk Don Kirk is offline
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Default Mud Dog Questions

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.
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Old 11-03-2011, 08:43 AM
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MadisonBoats MadisonBoats is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Kirk View Post
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.
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Old 11-03-2011, 09:33 AM
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Troutman Troutman is offline
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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/for...ght=hellbender

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

http://www.hellbenders.org/The_Hellb...page/Home.html
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Old 11-03-2011, 10:17 AM
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JoelO JoelO is offline
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One popped up next to me many years ago while I was fishing on the Hiwassee...scared the dickens out of me.
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Old 11-03-2011, 11:10 AM
Byron Begley Byron Begley is offline
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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.

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Old 11-03-2011, 11:22 PM
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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.
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Old 11-04-2011, 03:05 PM
TNBigBore TNBigBore is offline
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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.
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Old 11-03-2011, 12:34 PM
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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.




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.
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Old 11-03-2011, 02:32 PM
Knothead Knothead is offline
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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.
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Old 11-03-2011, 02:45 PM
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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.
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