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  #11  
Old 08-19-2009, 04:15 PM
tennswede tennswede is offline
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David,

As always, common sense from you. I know that scat studies done on otters through the decades show a preference for non game fish as well as frogs, amphibians and the occasional trout. It looks like the biggest threat is during the spawn of trout. Anyway, a lot of the talk about otters is myth like it always seem to be when it comes to wildlife management. I'm with you that the real threat is civilization not Otters.
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  #12  
Old 08-19-2009, 04:37 PM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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ChemEAngler--I certainly agree on the human factor; we have an endless propensity to mess things up. I don't agree with you, however, on otters being confined only to the lower end of big streams in the Park. You are looking at things from the Tennessee side of the Park while I've seen more otters and otter sign on the N. C. side (although I've seen plenty of evidence of them on the WPLP, and it is neither large nor comparatively slow moving.
Otters have been stocked on a dozen or so Park streams, including small ones such as Chambers Creek. They are also plenty of documented cases I know of, albeit outside the Park, far up the drainage of small creeks in N. C. I'll offer two recent examples--major depredation on the headwaters of Armstrong Creek above Marion, N. C., including devastation in the N. C. Wildlife Resources Commission hatchery there and secondly, on the headwaters of Burningtown Creek and its feeders in Macon County. I've already mentioned what they've done in Graham County, and a fellow whom I consider the best mountain fly fisherman I've ever seen (and I've seen a bunch of great ones), Marty Maxwell, told me that the last time he and a friend who is also an exceptional hand with a fly rod, fished the headwaters of Big Santeetlah they caught zilch, nada, nothing, zero. This is a stream which was once, in its upper reaches, a brown trouth paradise and I've had 100 fish days there more than once (and we are talking elevations in the 3000+ foot range). I don't have concrete evidence it was otters, but I feel confident that is the case.
Let's all hope nothing like this happens in the Park, and I hope I'm a misguided alarmist. Having said that, I've seen nothing even approaching this in my almost 60 years of fishing the Park. Jim Casada
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  #13  
Old 08-19-2009, 04:56 PM
Crockett Crockett is offline
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First thing we should do is get organized and get funds together to build an Otter crisis center in order to educate non-fishing types on the devestation they are causing. Ok sorry for the sarcasm Jim I know you are really concerned and I appreciate that. Seriously though what can we do write our congressman? I just can't get worked up over this one since I haven't seen any otters up there. Mind you the next time I go out and don't catch anything (which is most of the time lol) then I will surely blame those **** otters...
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  #14  
Old 08-19-2009, 05:17 PM
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silvercreek silvercreek is offline
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Otters are mostly out at night according to the Wikipedia article. Wilder than the ones I see on the Stones River, they probably see you and your fly line long before you see them.
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  #15  
Old 08-19-2009, 05:34 PM
dalerio dalerio is offline
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National Park Service (NPS) is to protect these federally owned lands from development so that future generations can enjoy them. National parks are usually found in areas with something unique to protect. These can be native plants, animals, ecosystems, distinctive geologic features, and/or the protection of biodiversity.

NOT FISHING.......

we are not talking about state controlled fishing areas but parks for EVERYONE to enjoy not just fishermen. sorry but as i see it that is the truth. if it was left up to me i would like to see big cats back in the park. that said. hiking would be interesting and without a doubt someone would get hurt but more of the natives would have returned. the park should be more than just water and fish. it should represent everything and everyone. buffalos, wolves, any thing we can put back.

a bounty was placed on bull trout to help the fishing of i think introduced fish. who has more of a right to be there the bull trout or stocked trout. look at it this way if the otters empty out all the rainbows and browns it will be easier to have the brooks returned to their native waters?

the park is for everyone not just fishermen.

wait why am i making this point.....

just forget everything i have said...........
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  #16  
Old 08-19-2009, 06:24 PM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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Crockett--Obviously you and most of the others posting on this think I am crying wolf, and I actually hope you are exactly right. However, and I suspect I have appreciably more experience in the Park than most, thanks to happy accident of place of birth, longevity, and having a great many marvelously misspent years fishing both sides of the Park, I fear not.
As to what can be done, basically nothing--but don't overlook the process of unintended consequences. Someone else suggested that a lot of this is semi-wild rumor not back by wildlife experts. I would simply note that the folks in the state of N. C. are extremely concerned, and in fact they are the ones who first gave real credence to what to that point had been anecdotal observations by me and a number of anglers I know.
But I'll try to summarize a few things I've stated, perhaps not well, and I'll hush on this since I sense some folks are irritated with me and that doesn't lend itself to useful or civil discourse. All of these are hard facts.
*Browns have totally disappeared from Abrams Creek
*There are appreciably fewer big brown trout than was the case less than a decade ago in a number of streams
*There are documented otter depredations aplenty in mountain trout streams in North Carolina
*Big Santeetlah Creek in N. C. is a pale shadow, at best, of what it was a decade ago
*The steelhead run into Big Snowbird Creek has diminished in recent years to perhaps 20 percent of what it was in 2000 (and you can't factor drought into the equation on this one).
*Otters are present on virtually every major drainage in the Park.
*Otters have a quite high metabolism and consume two to three pounds of meat (mostly fish, crayfish, and minnows) daily.
*There are appreciably fewer red horse and suckers in most Park streams than there were 15 years ago.
*Unless my fishing skills have gone downhill, and I'm pretty confident they haven't, there are fewer fish in some Park streams (Deep Creek is a prime example) than was once the case. I'd love to hear Steve or Matt report on this.
That's all I'll say on this matter, and once again, I hope I'm wrong and that a number of you can say to me, five years down the road, "I told you so." Jim Casada
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  #17  
Old 08-19-2009, 07:38 PM
FishNHunt FishNHunt is offline
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I can remember the first otter I ever saw. My dad had taken me to Gatlinburg once (before he trout fished religiously like he does now) when I was little and we saw one working the bank in daylight right smack in the middle of town. I was amazed and didn't see that many for several years. Now I have seen as many as 13 different otters in one day while fishing Chilhowee Lake. I saw camping once and I kept hearing whistles and chirps and couldn't figure out what it was until I spotted a family group "fishing". Years later I told my wife (fiance then) that I could talk to otters and whistled (mimicing the calls I had heard) to a family group that was "fishing" at the power house and called them right up to the other side of the rock we were on. She was awe stuck at how pretty they were. Very inquisitive critters. I feel that the otters have every right to "fish" right along side us humans. I know it used to aggrivate me to see a 2 lb small mouth head laying on the bank knowing that an otter had just had breakfast. Just like everything in nature there has to be checks and balances. We humans are the ONLY animal that will deplete it's resources until there is nothing left and continue stick around until we starve to death. These otters move around and fish out of many pools in just one night. They aren't going to stay in one spot and continue to fish until there is nothing left even if they could catch all the fish. If you look we only seem to be focusing on the "larger" spawning fish. Well I hate to say this but, 90% of the people fishing these streams will never land one of them. Not because they are bad fishermen/woman but, because they are so darned hard to catch.

Oh before I have the "bunny hugger" hung over my head... I have trapped otters before.
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  #18  
Old 08-19-2009, 09:55 PM
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Bran Bran is offline
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For what it's worth (probably nothing in the grand scheme) we have otters here in southern VA on our farm. The creek running through the farm is about half the width and twice the depth of the wplp at the top of g-burg. I don't see any appreciable difference in fishing there now from when I was 5 or 6 which, for those of us counting, was about 32 years ago. I still catch good numbers of gills, bass, red horse, and knottyheads there now just like then and I see Otter scat on the banks commonly.
That, as stated earlier, may not mean a thing compared to SMP Trout but just an observation from the flat lands.
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  #19  
Old 08-19-2009, 10:58 PM
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pmike pmike is offline
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...considerably limited, but I am afraid Mr. Casada may in fact be closer to right than most of us would wish him to be. On my last trip up about a year ago, I was fishing along Little River just beyond Elkmont, toward Metcalf Bottoms. As I fished along a familiar stretch, I noticed there were few if any fish holding in areas I've seen them in, every trip to that area before.

The fishing was slim to non-existent, but i did manage to hook up with a decent Brown, It was about a 12 incher. As I leaned down to revive and release the fish back into the run, it felt like someone or something was staring at me. I glanced up and accross the river to see a furry little face with beady little eyes as I released the fish. No sooner had the Brown left my hand, than the Otter jumped into the same pool to go after it. This all happened in mid to late afternoon.

My best guess is that if the Otters eat all the Browns and Bows, the Brookies will be on the same menu and soon gone as well. I wonder if they, the Park Service, might have to then revert back to stocking inside Park streams in order to supply enough fish to sustain the otters

Mike
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  #20  
Old 08-20-2009, 07:58 AM
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rivergal rivergal is offline
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I think the Cherokee called Cades Cove "place of the river otter".
The Cherokee probably kept the otter population in check by hunting.
When they re-introduced the river otter, they should have brought back the Cherokee and the buffalo too. Just my hillbilly opinion.
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