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Old 03-10-2014, 05:10 PM
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bigsur bigsur is offline
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Default Elkmont, Metcalf or Otter You so Krazy!

Saturday I hit the park with great anticapation as others have mentioned so far. The temperatures climbing into the 60's and sun shining I hit Elkmont at high noon with hopes of high water temps, but really because I made a lesiurely start of my Saturday. I made a quick stop at LRO for part of the spring fly collection now on display, made note of the crowd and ran for Elkmont. The parking lot was filled with you name it we got it, from fisherman to license tags reading from everywhere, I contiued on with getting into my waders. There were even numerous international visitors on the trail, I can always tell them because for some reason they tend to pick up and carry sticks twice their body length. I am not sure if they are planning to pole vault out of trouble or signal to bears they come as a package with attached meat skewer.

The best description about Saturday is from Ian & Charity Rutters website that said and I paraphrase, "a good day for fishing not catching!". I saw a few short bursts of blue quills hatch but very short-lived and nothing rising to the occasion. I did get in about 6 1/2 hours of casting practice and plenty of fly changing from nymphs to drys to droppers and back again.

Here's a shot of an Elkmont hole I love, even in winter it's coverd in tangles and brush, fishing so so but great place to contempalte your navel.




If anyone has wondered how much rain we got this winter here is a shot in an area everyone knows. Please note for scale my 7' 9" 2wt on the right side of pictue. I wonder if they will blast it open, leave it alone, or make the world's largest jinga puzzle for the tourists!



Now it's about 4 PM and I head down the road to Metcalf where many times I start or end the day. If the end of day, I will hit some holes, light a cigar and verify why amber bock should be considered a food group on the governemnt's food pyramid!

I was below the bridge downstream halfway across the water about 5:30 and to tell the truth I was tired and scorched from fishing all day and yes for those pre-judging, I had not even had the required dosage of cigar and bock libation. So now as I half-hearted casted I could see a rise in the deeper water below the riffles I am in. The closest way I can describe it is sometimes in the low water in the Clinch at the jail you can see buffalo carp rising in the low water making a racket. I am never sure if they are chasing something or making love, either way I don't like to be in the middle of it.

This was diffrent, the rise was moving like a freight train at high speed and the bulge in the water was getting bigger with every moment. As I stood there looking like Forest Gump, thiinking what the ......., the water started parting and I now saw it was not the 28 inch brown of my lifetime, but a high speed otter moving like a german submarine straight twoards me now 25 feet away and hammer down! As I heard my interior voice yell retreat in a very high pitch, he zigged right in the shallower water running right on top of the water and zagged left, I realized that no matter what a great catch I consider myself, it was a fish he was after not me, still not much consolation, because based on previous exposure to otters, I knew they have the single mindness of a bird dog at a time like that. I also knew the fish at that point did not care if escape was between my legs or in my waders and neither fish or otter would let me in the middle slow either one of them down.

Right as I started to make my retreat, the otter and prey dropped out of sight 10 -12 feet in front of me. I stood there waiting for the next explosion of sound, when the otter's head popped up with about an 8 inch trout sideways in it's mouth. As I stared in disbelief and awe if this had been a Diisney movie right than I am I sure he would have said thru a mouthful of trout, " and that's how it's done sucka!"

Now for added effect I have added below a picture of two otters underneath the tree, in one of my favorite holes about 1/2 mile up from last summer. Please note these bad boys in the Smokys aren't ferret size but big eough and probably tuff enough to eat a new Fiat 500 compact car. Saturday may not have been my day to catch but I can tell you I was humbled by the best fisherman on the water that day by far. I can promise you I learned two things, you ain't gonna outfish or outrun an otter in the water.


DISCLAIMER: THIS MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN THE ONE IN THE STORY ABOVE.
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Old 03-10-2014, 08:30 PM
HuskerFlyFisher HuskerFlyFisher is offline
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I hate River Otters. A river otter can clean out a quarter mile stretch of fish in no time.

That's why I have a STUFFED such critter in my cabin living room.
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Old 03-10-2014, 10:06 PM
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NDuncan NDuncan is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HuskerFlyFisher View Post
I hate River Otters. A river otter can clean out a quarter mile stretch of fish in no time.

That's why I have a STUFFED such critter in my cabin living room.
That's why there are no more trout in the smokies
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Old 03-11-2014, 12:34 AM
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Not a big fan of otters either. The problem with reintroducing an animal like that is it has few natural predators and under ideal conditions they will over populate. Unless they leave the park they can't be trapped or harvested and the park is often reluctant to enact measures to correct the situation. Just my opinion, I enjoy seeing them in their habitat as much as anyone. I guess it's just selfishness on my part. I do think they impact the very species we as fly fishermen are targeting.
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Last edited by flyman; 03-11-2014 at 10:52 AM.. Reason: 42
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Old 03-11-2014, 08:46 AM
SmokiesSpeckSlayer SmokiesSpeckSlayer is offline
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Nice report! Good to hear someone else didnt have the best day on the water Saturday. Sounds like you had a pretty cool encounter on the creek tho.. Gotta love seeing nature in action
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Old 03-11-2014, 05:38 PM
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NDuncan NDuncan is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyman View Post
Not a big fan of otters either. The problem with reintroducing an animal like that is it has few natural predators and under ideal conditions they will over populate. Unless they leave the park they can't be trapped or harvested and the park is often reluctant to enact measures to correct the situation. Just my opinion, I enjoy seeing them in their habitat as much as anyone. I guess it's just selfishness on my part. I do think they impact the very species we as fly fishermen are targeting.
Otters are an apex predator. They don't have very many natural predators anyway-regardless of reintroduction or otherwise. You are right - they do impact trout, but i don't that impact is necessarily all negative. In fact they do fill exactly the niche they need to. Trout have very few natural predators in the water and do in fact overpopulate many of the streams in the smokies -leading to stunted growth and a small average trout size. There may be some shift in population profiles, but I doubt the overall effect is very noticeable in the GSMNP. A single flood probably has a bigger impact on a stream than all the otters.
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Old 03-11-2014, 05:49 PM
HuskerFlyFisher HuskerFlyFisher is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NDuncan View Post
Otters are an apex predator. They don't have very many natural predators anyway-regardless of reintroduction or otherwise. You are right - they do impact trout, but i don't that impact is necessarily all negative. In fact they do fill exactly the niche they need to. Trout have very few natural predators in the water and do in fact overpopulate many of the streams in the smokies -leading to stunted growth and a small average trout size. There may be some shift in population profiles, but I doubt the overall effect is very noticeable in the GSMNP. A single flood probably has a bigger impact on a stream than all the otters.
Perhaps they need to re-introduce mountain lions and wolves.
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Old 03-11-2014, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by HuskerFlyFisher View Post
Perhaps they need to re-introduce mountain lions and wolves.
well the point is, even where there are mountain lions and wolves, they don't predate on otters much so it's not that those are gone.

The otters have been back in the park for twenty years. they probably have reached their equilibrium level at this point. They are present on pretty much every stream in the park at this point. The fish are still there. Most streams still contain over 1000 trout per river mile.
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Old 03-11-2014, 08:59 PM
HuskerFlyFisher HuskerFlyFisher is offline
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Most streams still contain over 1000 trout per river mile.
Wow. How does that compare to other trout areas around the country (I mean generally)? Do you know?
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Old 03-12-2014, 09:22 AM
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Some tailwaters are known to carry 4000 fish per mile, but they have more water. The San Juan is said to have 10-15,000 fish per mile!

steve
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Last edited by Stonefly; 03-12-2014 at 09:52 AM..
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