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Old 08-18-2009, 09:05 AM
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silvercreek silvercreek is offline
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Default Otters

Ok I did a little research on Wikipedia. They have a good discussion on the Northern Otter. Otters eat about every type of fish including carp. It simply depends on what is available. Supposedly they do not pose any special harm to trout. However, they do target larger fish, so if trout are the larger fish you can figure out the rest. The article did say they can pose a threat where fish gather to spawn which takes us back to the trout issue. An adult otter eats 2 to 3 pounds of fish per day. Looks like otters taking out the larger spawners could surely work on trout numbers.
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Old 08-18-2009, 06:09 PM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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Silvercreek--You've hit the nail squarely on the head, and any way you want to look at it, two to three pounds of fish a day, when the main item of diet might well be trout, translates to a tremendous loss in any Park drainage if you do the math for say half a dozen otters over the span of a year.
Also, guess when big browns are by far the most vulnerable? When they move upstream into tiny headwaters. Anyone who has spent much time in the Smokies in late fall and winter has seen big browns in water scarcely deep enough to cover their backs. Easy pickings for an otter. Now you begin to get a hint of why I'm so darn concerned, and I've had at least 10 real old-timers tell me of their otter concerns in the last two years. To a man they have observed otter depredation first hand, and anyone who says they eat nothing but crayfish and trash fish is, to put it bluntly, out of touch with reality. Jim Casada
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Old 08-19-2009, 08:48 AM
Rebelsoul Rebelsoul is offline
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There ain't no way they won't eat trout....they taste better.
It's a bad move from what I've heard y'all talking about.
Once they do start devastating trout populations,it's going to be somebody's job to figure out who is more important...trout or otters.
Since I'm new to Smoky Mt. trout fishing,I hate to see this,and I'm sure the oldtimers hate it more.
I've seen many streams messed up around here for a number of reasons,I hate to see the mountain streams become barren.
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Old 08-19-2009, 10:21 AM
dalerio dalerio is offline
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as much as i LOVE fishing in the park, i say otters. between a native and a transplant i pick the native. they an't alot of places i could take my son and see an otter in its native habitat. i am 37 years old and just seen my first mink on the creek i fish the other day. my son is 2 and thought it was a cat. we have elk and bear and coyote around the our house now. while i wish the coyote's would disappear an leave my turkeys alone they are natives to this area. my pappaw never got to see an elk or turkey or deer in our yard but my son has. i say OTTERS. the herons take a toll on the creek i fish but its there creek too.

sorry

my 2 cents........
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Old 08-19-2009, 10:48 AM
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silvercreek silvercreek is offline
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The brookies are native. There are a lot of places where otters can be found and to which they can adapt. Witness this by the fact that they are in the Stones River 15 miles from downtown Nashville and right smack in the middle of the suburbs. However, there are precious few places in the southeast where brook trout, or any trout for that matter, can reproduce. I can find otter within 2 miles of my house. I've got to drive 200 mile to find a streamborn brookie.
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Old 08-19-2009, 11:27 AM
Rebelsoul Rebelsoul is offline
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I don't know for sure but I'll take a "s.w.a.g." and say coyotes might have been native to the mountains in the eons they've been in North America.
One thing I do know for sure,is that they won't disappear and leave the turkeys alone,or the small pets and even small children.
They are extremely adaptable,and if there aren't that many there...there soon will be.
I can definitely say I vote for the trout on this matter.There ain't many places left for wild ones to stay wild...and otters,that's a different thing like the above poster mentioned.
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Old 08-19-2009, 11:58 AM
Crockett Crockett is offline
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If the otters are native then they should be in there. I wouldn't eradicate a native animal even if it has been reintroduced. Now that may mean that someone only catches 5 trout in a day versus 40, 50 or some of the numbers I see on here at some point years from now but in the end it will be just as satisfying. Really could be more satisfying and sporting to think you are catching them under the same conditions and odds that existed a hundred and some years ago. Anyway there are plenty of trout out there right now and not too many otters as I have never seen one and I am in the park all the time. I think it will be some years before we have to wring our hands too much about this one.
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Old 08-19-2009, 12:17 PM
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silvercreek silvercreek is offline
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Love to see the otters when I walk the greenway. Have never seen a brookie in the stones river though. Hopefully this pic of the Stones river Otters will post.
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Old 08-19-2009, 12:27 PM
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ChemEAngler ChemEAngler is offline
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Folks let's look at what the common denominator here is...... humans.

Humans eliminated otters from the park in the mid 19th century. During the time that they thrived here there were other predators here that kept the otter population in check, such as the red wolf and cougars. Guess what happened to those two species.....

From my limited research on river otters, I have found that most studies show that they typically locate their homes along slower and deeper bodies of water. When I think of brookies, I don't think of deep, slow pools, but instead of plunge pools and pocket water. Since most sightings of river otters is found along Abrams Creek and Little River, I think this further supports that claim.

I would expect the non-native brown and rainbow population to be much more negatively impacted by the presence of river otters.

Nature has a delicate balance, and sometimes we as humans think we can do a better job of determining how nature should operate. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it backfires. Not to mention we as a whole have a tendency to over-harvest our quarry. The fact is that for every group out there pushing for trout habitat and protection, there is another group pushing for reintroduction of native species, and another group pushing for the introduction of something else that they think would be nice to have. Sorry to disappoint, but you can't please them all, and somebody ends up losing at the end of the day.
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Old 08-19-2009, 03:46 PM
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David Knapp David Knapp is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChemEAngler View Post
Nature has a delicate balance, and sometimes we as humans think we can do a better job of determining how nature should operate. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it backfires. Not to mention we as a whole have a tendency to over-harvest our quarry. The fact is that for every group out there pushing for trout habitat and protection, there is another group pushing for reintroduction of native species, and another group pushing for the introduction of something else that they think would be nice to have. Sorry to disappoint, but you can't please them all, and somebody ends up losing at the end of the day.

Well put Travis. Additionally, we as anglers often want to restore native species (Yellowstone cutts, west and east coast salmon runs, etc.). To accomplish that goal, organizations such as TU lobby for the removal of dams (such as on the Snake River) or assist with the removal of invasive species (lake trout in Yellowstone). I see it as inconsistent to work for the restoration of historic salmon runs but not support the reintroduction of species that were native to an area before being eliminated by humans. Does reintroduction always work out the way we hope? Probably not but while creatures like the otters may be making a small nuisance of themselves, there are still plenty of fish, at least on the Tennessee side streams I fish. If you want to see big browns in Little River then join me for a fishing trip sometime and I can show you plenty. They are still there but are largely nocturnal now do the heavy fishing pressure and hordes of tubers that descend on park streams throughout the day. Do otters eat large fish? Undoubtedly but they are much less of a threat to the park's fish as compared to the stresses we ourselves are placing on the environment. Instead of getting concerned about the otters, maybe we should all work to reduce industrial emissions to the west of the park that are responsible for acid rain. Maybe we should be worrying about the alarming disappearance of the native hemlocks and other evergreen species that used to carpet the mountainsides throughout the park. .

As Travis was saying, the otters are NOT going to be the end to brookies. They coexisted for many years before any of us were around and will continue to do so barring changes in the natural habitat caused by us humans. As much as we all enjoy catching the browns and rainbows, they are just introduced species...
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