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  #21  
Old 01-18-2011, 05:46 PM
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JohnH0802 JohnH0802 is offline
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Caleb,
Specks are native to the smokies.

John
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  #22  
Old 01-18-2011, 08:50 PM
Knik Knik is offline
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I know of an old trapper who's family tree stems from Cades Cove, one of them ran the "general store" in Townsend. This old trapper has alot of the old "logs/sales receipts" from back in the days of trading furs for goods, I can't remember how far back they date, but I'm sure back to the 1800's. He told me that not one of them mentioned anything about otters but every year there was at least one "painter" traded in, "painter" being the old mountain slang for panther.

I know some of the ones stocked in the 80's came out of Louisiana, knew one of the guys that helped trap them. They used #11 double longsprings to do this, the same trap as most people think cut animals feet off.... lol Another myth.

Otters are circuit travelers just like mink, except longer circuits. It might take them 2 weeks or 1 month to return to an area, in this manner they don't deplete the food source. They often travel in "packs" of 2 or more and eat what is available, such as fish, crayfish, muskrats, small beaver, birds, etc..... When the population is not kept in check, the otters will have over lapping circuits..... thus more predation.

When I was a kid, my grandfather brought me up on trout fishing over in Pittman Center and Greenbriar. You couldn't hardly fish for the shiners and horny heads, and "hog suckers" were in every pool. Three years ago I ran a trapline for a week on that stretch of river in hopes of some mink and maybe an otter. All I can say is "WOW", darn river seemed void of any fish what so ever, think I saw a few shiners but no big schools like back when I was a kid. Otter sign was everywhere and alot of over lapping otters for sure.

Only answer I have for you guys is this..... If you can get a trapper permission on a section of river or side stream, within say 5 miles of the park, then do it. They will have to leave there traps in for a month or so, but the otters will come back through, just because the otter are in the park, doesn't mean they stay there. And no, the otter population will not be devastated, only a percentage will be caught. But they, like all wildlife, need to be managed. A healthy population does not mean an overpopulation.

Just a side note.......
Otters will travel several miles over dry land and high ridges in order to reach another tributary or body of water. I have a friend who has a pack of six on his deer cam over 1 mile from water, and the camera was in a saddle on a high ridge line. Sure caught him by surprise..... lol

Just my 2 cents......... please excuse my spelling.

Shannon
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  #23  
Old 01-19-2011, 07:44 AM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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Shannon--Excellent information, and your observations of the paucity of minnows and suckers match mine. Your point aobut trapping outside (but near) the Park is a good one. Of course there are some areas of the Park where even with the otters making long circuits this won't help all that much--the streams which flow into Fontana's north shore come immediately to mind, because for some of them the nearest land where one could trap is many, many miles away.
A bigger problem, in all likelihood, is that trapping in today's world seems to be headed the way of the dodo.
I have no problem with a healthy population of otters, but as you say, they need to be managed. That isn't and won't happen in the Park, because they in effect have free rein.
Also, as you note, they travel in groups (usually a pair and sometimes their offspring) and they can cover a lot of ground and eat a lot of fish.
Interesting information, and I did not know about the origin of some of the stocked otters.
Jim Casada
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  #24  
Old 01-19-2011, 12:41 PM
calebB calebB is offline
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John,

I was going for the more technical definition... browns and bows are true trout. Specks, aka brook trout are considered char.

Caleb
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  #25  
Old 01-19-2011, 07:17 PM
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Caleb,

Actually, rainbows are in the salmon family (Salmo gairdneri), and are anadromous (salt or fresh water species): called steelhead when they migrate to the ocean. You're correct, browns are true trout.

Whitefeather

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  #26  
Old 01-19-2011, 07:26 PM
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Jim,

What is the name of your book on fishing in the park? I'm interested in reading it!

The red wolves in the park may not have remained there. Some were killed by automobiles. I read in a couple of NC newspapers where a couple of them were killed by "poachers" last year in different locations. Do red wolves range over areas of NC outside the park and surrounding states?

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  #27  
Old 01-19-2011, 08:40 PM
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Jim,

Very informative article of yours in the Tuck Reader on the otter problem in the park and surrounding areas. Looking forward to your coming article on coyotes!


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  #28  
Old 01-20-2011, 10:48 AM
Knothead Knothead is offline
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Interesting thread here. My wife and I spent our last vacation in Townsend about 4 years ago. I was fishing behind what is now the KOA Townsend. I saw something downstream from me. I was hoping it was Moby Trout but turned out to be an otter. He crawled up in the rocks below a couple of cabins on the ridge behind the campground. A female came out and joined him on the rock ledge. Two youngsters came to the entrance of a hole in the rocks but never came out. We watched them for about 15 minutes before they went into the den. This was just about dark.
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  #29  
Old 01-20-2011, 10:54 AM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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Whitefeather--The book is Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park: An Insider's Guide to a Pursuit of Passion. It is available both through my web site (www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com) and from Little River Outfitters.

As for the red wolves, there are lots of questions as to whether they were ever truly indigenous and ever more questions as to whether those which were stocked were true red wolves and not a coyote/wolf cross. Whatever the case, they did not "take holt" in the Park and they aren't found outside the Park in the Smokies.
Jim Casada
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  #30  
Old 01-20-2011, 10:57 AM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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John--That's a fairly typical sighting. Otters travel in family groups for the most part, and you can rest assured that those you saw were enjoying trout on the menu on a fairly regular basis.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com
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