View Full Version : Otters in the Park

Brian Griffing
07-18-2007, 02:44 PM
Back in April I was fishing on Abrams, working downstream into the horseshoe. I caught a few small bows, but nothing bigger than 7 inches. When I got about 1/2 mile downstream I saw what looked like two otters swimming downstream away from me about 100 yards away. My immediate reaction was that they were beavers, but even at 100 yds they were some funny-looking beavers, and the little bit of beaver sign along the stream was really old. As I walked back upstream I found some half-eaten crawdads on rocks in the middle of the stream and started giving some serious thought to the idea that they might have been otters. Maybe they were spooking the bigger fish ahead of me. When I got home I did some research on the internet and I couldn't find anything about otters being in the park. What do y'all think?

07-18-2007, 03:10 PM
Otter it is. Remember hearing about a reintroduction program a while back.

07-18-2007, 03:25 PM
I was fishing one time on Abrams with my dad about 1/2 down from the trail head. While i was working a run i saw something in the water that looked like a huge brown trout. I cast to it and I saw it coming up to take my dry fly. I was ready to set the hook when its head came out of the water. It was an otter!! It started coming towards me so I moved out of its way.

On other occasions while fishing abrams, I have glance up stream and seen otters playing in the water. They are fascinating animals! From what I have experienced there are many of them on Abrams.


Byron Begley
07-18-2007, 03:32 PM
There are otters in most of the watersheds in the park if not all of them. They were stocked a few years ago. Now they are residing outside in the Little River and it's tribs. I've seen them in the spring creek behind my house and I live two miles from the park line. From my understanding they are legal to trap though not in the park. I know a trapper who does just that.


Brian Griffing
07-18-2007, 03:40 PM
Thanks. Good to know that my vision and thinking aren't that impaired.

07-18-2007, 03:57 PM
No one will argue about there being otters in the park. What will start an argument is if the otters are having an impact on the trout. Some people claim that the otters can't catch the trout. others claim to have seen otters catching and eating trout, some of them big trout. i've seen otters and beavers, and I've seen the pile of crawdaddy remains from the otters. My guess is that an otter can and does catch trout daily. I doubt if they are reducing trout numbers by any significant amount though.

07-18-2007, 05:40 PM
We watched an otter come into the large pool where I was fishing, go underwater several times and come up with a fish. He came out on the opposite side of the pool and sat there eating it. He watched us but didn't seem afraid. After he/she finished eating, he swam through the pool and headed upstream, into another pool. I figured he would spook the trout and left. He was beautiful and a good fisherman too. Happened last spring above the first bridge going to Tremont.

old tom
07-18-2007, 08:16 PM
Yep. Saw one on Straight Fork last year. I too don't think they are hurting the population. I was just kinda ticked because I figured they put the fish down as this one was swimming down stream.

07-18-2007, 09:40 PM
Saw an otter on Middle Prong above the Institute in May. Surfaced and sat preening on a rock right across the river from me. Stayed for about 10 minutes before he ducked back in. Ran across more crawdad remains on a mid-stream rock this past weekend up on the Little Pigeon River below the Chimneys trailhead. Wouldn't swear that they were from otters but it sure looked suspicious.

07-19-2007, 09:51 AM
I saw a pair of otters last weekend at Elkmont. I was fishing and kept hearing this squieking noise and counldn't figure out what it was, then here came the otters swimming up on the other side of the river. They looked at me for a minute and then climbed up out of the water and ran down the bank.

Jack M.
07-19-2007, 10:33 AM
We watched an otter come into the large pool where I was fishing, go underwater several times and come up with a fish. .... I figured he would spook the trout and left.

I would agree with you that sticking around in that pool would have been a bad idea. Kinda like coming up on a beautiful pool with a Great Blue Herron perched above-- might as well just move on.

07-19-2007, 03:45 PM
I thought I saw one on the Clinch a few months ago and emailed TWRA about it. This is the response I got:

River Otters historically once occupied all of the river and streams in North America. However, they were extirpated throughout most of their range due to trapping for their valuable fur. In the early 90's the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (along with other states) bought river otters from Louisiana and restored them to east Tennessee. Due to these efforts, otters numbers have rebounded and are now relatively abundant in east Tennessee. We now even have a regulated trapping season for otters. Otter sightings are now common in Tennessee. I observed two otters in the Holston River Friday night.