APOLLO (KDKA) — A local angler is grabbing a lot of attention for his incredibly rare catch in the waters of the Kiski River.READ MORE: Mom Wanted On Child Endangerment Charges After Toddler Wanders Away In Braddock
Larry Dones, 43, walked the banks of the Kiski River, with his children Scarlett and Jack, on Thursday night in Armstrong County.
Earlier this week, not far from his home in Apollo, Dones made a most unusual catch. He took a video before tossing it back into the water.
Dones says he caught a Hellbender, otherwise known as a giant salamander.
Dones told KDKA-TV’s Ralph Iannotti, “I pulled it up out of the water and actually got a real look at it. I was just shocked, I could not believe. I knew immediately what it was.”
Dones is an avid fisherman. While he usually ends up with a smallmouth bass or a trout on his line, this particular catch left him speechless.READ MORE: Trick Or Treat 2021: Halloween Celebrations Across Western Pennsylvania
The video he posted on Facebook immediately got hundreds of comments.
“It was almost as long as my arm, 17 or 18 inches, I think,” he said. “They’re very slimy and slippery and strong. When I went to take the hook out of his mouth, he gave me a little bite, he was feisty. I pulled the hook out with pliers, and he was ready to go.
For now, the strange looking creature is back in his own element.
Dones says his amphibian catch says something positive about the Kiski River.
“It says it’s very clean,” he said. “These creatures do not tolerate pollution at all. The fact that one is living in there now says that the river is becoming very, very clean. That makes me very happy.”MORE NEWS: PWSA Joins Imagine A Day Without Water
Hellbender populations are on the decline in some states, and they are on the endangered species list in areas.