Smoky madtom, Noturus baileyi
The smoky madtom was originally only known from Abrams Creek, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Like the Citico darter (see this account for more background) it was eliminated from Abrams during a trout “reclamation” project. When it was formally described by Taylor (1969) it was presumed extinct. It was later listed as endangered when an extant population was discovered in the early 1980s in Citico Creek (also a Little Tennessee River tributary) in the nearby Cherokee National Forest, Monroe County, TN (Dinkins and Shute, 1996). Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to try to reintroduce Smoky madtoms along with Yellowfin madtoms back into Abrams Creek. Smoky and Yellowfin madtoms represented the first species propagated by CFI for a reintroduction project.
Like the Yellowfins, we have been working to re-establish the Smoky madtoms into Abrams Creek for more than 20 years. Fish propagated from Citico Creek are also being used to establish the species in the nearby Tellico River. At this time, Smoky madtoms are well established in several reaches of Abrams Creek and well as limited sections of the Tellico River. We have, through the years, continued to monitor populations in Citico Creek along with the reintroduced populations in Abrams and Tellico. Currently, students from Tennessee Technological University have been involved in monitoring both of these madtom species as well as Citico darters in Abrams Creek. This information will be extremely valuable in future course of reintroduction efforts in Abrams Creek.