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  #11  
Old 02-16-2011, 02:52 PM
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Hey buzz is that the calderwood dam?

i have spent many nights up above that dam camping and fishing but never below id like to know a little more about it as i plan on getting there this spring!
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  #12  
Old 02-16-2011, 03:45 PM
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Shoot me an email and put LRO in the subject. It may be a day or two before I can get back to you, but I have some info I can give you.

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  #13  
Old 02-16-2011, 05:11 PM
tennswede tennswede is offline
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Jim,

No hunting for otters has been takig place for generations. They are a threatened species in most of Europe. They are protected as far as I know in Sweden since 1969. Probably the same status in the rest of the nordic countries. The point is that they were never a threat to any trout streams in scandinavia.
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Old 02-16-2011, 09:30 PM
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Jim and Hans,

From my continuing research on the otter I respectfully submit these statements concerning otters.

Hans, the otter about which you have spoken in Sweden and Norway is the European or Eurasian Otter. (Lutra Lutra)

The otter in the park is the North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis). They appear to have some differences in their dietary choices as noted in the quoted text. (From Wikipedia search: North American River Otter, and Otter.)

Two very different species, but with some commonalities.

This might be a plausible explanation for the disagreement about their proliferation vs. their predatory pressure on the fish of the two different regions. (North America vv North Europe).

"The European Otter's (Lutra lutra) diet mainly consists of fish. However, during the winter and in colder environments fish consumption is significantly lower and the otters use other sources for their food supply. This diet can include birds, insects, frogs, crustaceans and sometimes small mammals, including young beavers.

"North American river otters (Lontra canadensis), like most predators, prey upon the species that are the most readily accessible. Fish is a favored food among the otters, but they also consume various amphibians, turtles, and crayfish. There have been instances of river otters eating small mammals as well."

It would seem to me that the most readily available food source in the Park's streams (specifically in winter) would be the trout because of its preferred habitiat and abundance (in schools). The trout are easier to catch in the winter because they are more densely populated.

Just wanted to share this information as I found it!
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  #15  
Old 02-16-2011, 09:55 PM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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Whitefeather--That's useful information and something of which I was unaware. I would also note that in addition to being a different subspecies, we are talking about two decidedly different climactic situations. The Smokies aren't Scandanavia. I would add one further thought to your information. Trout, as cold-blooded creatures, are slowest and most vulnerable in winter, precisely the time of year when otters, as warm-blooded creatures, need more food and find their food sources more restricted. In other words, they are going to turn to what is available, and that's fish. I've simply seen too much, had too many first-hand reports from others, and received too much input from professional wildlife biologists to accept the fact that otters, left to their own devices (and that's the case in the Park), won't damage trout populations. As to suggestions that there are too many trout, I consider that virtually ludicrous--numbers are probably at the lowest level, in some Park streams, that I've seen in my entire lifetime.

There's a great deal of anecdotal evidence to suggest they already are, and don't try to tell old-time mountain trout fishermen in Graham County, or managers of state fish hatcheries in North Carolina, or Chris Holler (who manages a mile-long section of Armstrong Creek near Marion, N. C.), or a fellow named Bonner who retired as a N. C. Wildlife Resources Commission biologist and has related multiple examples of otter problems, or any of the dozens of folks with ponds or intensively managed streams, that there isn't a problem. Also, why do you suppose the NCWRC is issuing otter depredation permits?

It is a situation which, in my view, cannot be ignored. I've fished the Smokies (a lot) for 60 years, and I've seen various manifestations of problems. These include mistakes the Park made in stocking northern strain specks, failures with early stream poisonings in both the Park and outside of it, extended droughts of the kind we had a few years back, exposure of Anakeesta rock in a number of locations, acid rain, and more. In my view, none of these come close to the otter threat. For what it is worth, most of the folks (at least on the N. C. side of the Park, who are the ones I talk to regularly) with decades of experience in fishing Park waters share my concern. I long ago learned that to ignore the widsom, common sense, and observational abilities of mountain old-timers is to travel a path fraught with pitfalls.

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Old 02-16-2011, 10:45 PM
tennswede tennswede is offline
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Whitefeather,

I am fully aware that the Eurasian otter is a subspecies. However, I don't buy in to the notion that they are that different from each other. It's kind of the same as the relationship between Northern Pike and Muskellunge. Both are voracious predators, both are on top of the food chain, both look very similar in appearance. Yet they are not the same fish, but both prefer the same habitat and eat the same preferred food. The main difference is that muskies like somewhat warmer water. I think that's a pretty fair comparison to the otter dilemma.
Jim,

I don't intend on going on about this. I don't have to have the last word and I am smart enough to realize that I'm not going to win you over. I just want you to know that not everyone believe the same as you do and frankly, neither you or I might be correct on this issue. Opinions are divided as you know on many issues. As for your statement that the Smokies is not Scandinavia (note it's Scandinavia not Scandanavia), well that's not exactly a good defense. Higher elevation in the Smokies are very much similar to the fauna and flora in Scandinavia. As you know, Canadian type of vegetation and trees, shows up at around 3000 ft and up. I'll end her with an agreement of disagreeing with you and to be honest most people are probably tired of this otter thread anyway.
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  #17  
Old 02-16-2011, 11:03 PM
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David Knapp David Knapp is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Casada View Post
As to suggestions that there are too many trout, I consider that virtually ludicrous--numbers are probably at the lowest level, in some Park streams, that I've seen in my entire lifetime.
Out of curiousity, are you saying this simply off of personal observation or do you have another source? Park biologists have been saying for years that they wish more fisherman would keep a limit. If you talk to old time fisherman here on the Tennessee side, they support the idea that the trout numbers need thinning. According to them, it was easy (years ago) to catch a limit of 10-12 inch rainbows (all wild fish) on Little River whereas now there are too many small rainbows competing. Why? Because years ago, catch and release was not the norm. Those caught trout were removed from the stream. With less fish competing for the same amount of food, the remaining fish grew faster and thus reached larger sizes.

Here on the Tennessee side at least, I know we have plenty of trout and could in fact use some thinning of their numbers. I've seen huge pods of wild rainbows feeding in the pools on Little River here in TN and Deep Creek just inside the Park in NC. In both of the pools I'm specifically thinking about, I have watched otters play and in the case of Deep Creek, the otter apparently lived in a hole in the bank. Still, good numbers of wild trout continue to inhabit these pools. Perhaps if the otters take a few of the wild trout, the remaining ones will have the ability to grow larger since the competition for the food will dwindle...
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  #18  
Old 02-16-2011, 11:12 PM
tennswede tennswede is offline
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David,

You are simply forgetting that the Otters only get the big browns, Abrams Creek remember!
All jokes aside, thanks for being a voice of reason.
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  #19  
Old 02-17-2011, 09:27 AM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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Plateau Angler--My comment is based primarily on personal observations but is "seconded" by a number of others. It applies almost exclusively to N. C., and I know from my experiences this past year that there are plenty, perhaps too many, trout in the WPLP. On the other hand, I have had three different fishermen, all of them folks who have fished Deep Creek for decades (and I'll give names--Mac Brown, who has done guiding off and on over the years; Jim Estes, a skilled angler who does some guiding for Rivers Edge; and Jim Mills, a veteran rodmaker and angler from the Whittier area) indicate their feelings that this fishery has declined appreciably. A posibly bigger concern lies outside the Park and is the focus, along with Deep Creek, of a good bit of my personal observation. This is streams in Graham County, notably Big Santeetlah (the upper end was once a prime brown trout fishery but isn't any more). Marty Maxwell and Mack Bridges, two of the best fishermen in the mountains, both of whom live in Graham County, both have serious concerns.

None of this is scientific, but all these folks are exceptional fishermen and I'm a decent hand myself.

I'm a staunch proponent of keeping fish and realize some streams have long been overpopulated. Incidentally, I might also note it took Park biologists decades to acknowledge this, and to stir the pot a bit more, if the streams are so overpopulated, one has to wonder why the limit isn't seven or even ten fish (both figures were, at one time, the limit in the Park).

As is true with my doubts about the long-term efficacy of the speck restoration, I hope I'm completely wrong about the otters. However, as a cautionary note, I will simply mention that I have had two different people with inside information tell me that rainbows have shown up in one of the supposedly complete speck restoration streams (and they weren't talking about the big bows some fool put in Lynn Camp Prong). I don't know that this is the case but it was always a key source of doubt for me. That's precisely what happened in an earlier restoration attempt in Indian Creek (the one which feeds Deep Creek), although the poison was not antimycin.
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  #20  
Old 02-17-2011, 09:39 AM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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Hans--This is my last post on this issue, but your insistence on the two otters being strikingly similar flies directly in the face of what Whitefeather found as regards their feeding habits.

Likewise, I think you are way off base in suggesting that Scandinavia (and yes, I do know how to spell it but in a forum like this I never felt the need to proofread everything--if we are going that route, there are at least half a dozen stylistic errors, mostly in the arena of subject-verb disagreement, in the post where you take my spelling to task) is quite similar to the Smokies.

The ecosystem in the Smokies is far more diverse than that of Scandinavia; in fact, it is the most diverse in the Northern Hemisphere, with hundreds if not thousands of species of flora and fauna not found in Scandinavia.

Finally, you indicate your comment about the browns in Abrams Creek may have been made in jest, but to date neither you or anyone else has offered me much of an explanation to remove the remarkable coincidence between otter introduction there and the disappearance of brown trout there. The one thing which seems certain is that they are gone. Why?

Jim Casada
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