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Thread: Otters

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Townsend, TN
    Posts
    131

    Default Otters

    I was fishing on the Middle Prong toward Tremont yesterday. It was a beautiful day and I was in the perfect spot. I caught one fish right away on a George nymph. I also had a few more hits on a pink squirmy worm that I did not hook (probably too much worm and not enough hook). Then nothing. The fish just stopped. I even saw a nice fish hovering near the bottom and it was frozen in that spot and did not move. Then about three feet away something smashed the surface. It scared the living be***us out of me. It was an otter. He would dive and then pop his head up out of the water. He would look right at me, open his mouth, shake his head a little as if to be laughing at me. He would lay on his back with his head up, swim by me while looking directly at me and he was making eye contact. He was not scared of me at all and he seemed to be saying, "Get the h*** out of here so that I can keep fishing." So, I got out of the water and hiked upstream to another likely spot. No fish there either, so I packed up and went home. I was a little disgusted. I thought tubers were bad, but this guy was relentless. I know, I know, it was a rare nature viewing experience and I should have appreciated the beauty of it all, but I was there to fish. I was not there to view nature (that would be for another day) especially when nature was competing with me for the fish. This day, the otter won. I also thought that if I hooked another fish, that otter would have been all over it. What then if I accidentally hooked the otter? I don't even want to think about that. What a nightmare that would have been. So, the comical fish eating otter had a great day at my expense. When I think back on it is was kind of cool seeing the little varmint.
    Joe

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    NC side of the Smokies
    Posts
    64

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    That is not at all a rare nature viewing experience in the park nowadays. They're everywhere, and they will even follow you sometimes when you're fishing. I catch lots of fish with tooth marks on them nowadays, and have noticed a reduction in bigger fish in areas where the otters are thick. Almost every mossy streamside rock in the park is covered with otter scat, which is 99% fish bones and crawfish claws. They are cool to watch, though.
    Specks: the other pink meat.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Townsend, TN
    Posts
    131

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    I wish the otters no harm. They are just doing what otters do. I wish they could be trapped and moved to some other nice location far from the Park. If the otters are eating the larger reproducing brown trout there may soon be fewer or no brown trout in the Park streams. It's bad enough that we can't fish in town for the stocked trout (at the expense of the state) because of the tubers, now we may not be able to catch many trout in the Park because of the otters.
    Joe

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Kingston, TN
    Posts
    279

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    There are those who disagree with him, but according to Matt Kulp, the Fisheries Biologist for the GSMNP who is responsible for knowing about such things, the otters really don't pose a significant threat to the trout population in the streams. Trout are typically too fast and too much work for the otters to bother with as a significant portion of their diet. While an otter will eat an occasional trout when an opportunity presents itself, the bulk of their diet is crawfish, dace, and sculpins. Those are easier to catch and there are more of them available to feed a hungry otter.

    Of course, when an otter is in the vicinity, the trout will be laying low and not interested in feeding, so the wise fisherman will move on to a different location for the time being. Odds are good that there will be trout still there when the fisherman tries again.
    Last edited by Stana Claus; 05-28-2019 at 10:12 AM. Reason: Added additional info
    Fly fishing - it's cheaper than a bass boat!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Townsend, TN
    Posts
    131

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    I hope you and Matt Kulp are right Santa. That is what I want to believe.
    Joe

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    143

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stana Claus View Post
    There are those who disagree with him, but according to Matt Kulp, the Fisheries Biologist for the GSMNP who is responsible for knowing about such things, the otters really don't pose a significant threat to the trout population in the streams. Trout are typically too fast and too much work for the otters to bother with as a significant portion of their diet.
    I would disagree with Matt on the otters impact on trout, at least outside the Park and specifically with regard to the tailwater trout streams. The Clinch has a very large and prolific otter population. Family groups of 4-6 indivduals can be observed about daily fishing ( catching trout) on a minimum flow. You can see the fish in their mouths . They hunt in a pack often and more than one has a visible trout in its teeth. There seems to be family groups of them spread out throughout the river ; more downstream of Massengill bridge than above it and at least to Clinton. Where the otter colonies are in abundance the fish count appears to be lower. I would also note that every lake from Tellico to Fontana has more otters and less fish according to long tome observers. About every major cold tailwater I have fished in the S E now has the otters.

    Of course the cormorants, heron, osprey, and the eagles are also more prolific than ever in our lifetimes and all of them are pure fish killers, so the otters have plenty of competition . We need to make all those critters buy a trout stamp!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    209

    Default

    I had a similar experience in South Carolina. Out of nowhere a strange wake was moving up stream. Hoping it was a JUMBO TROUT getting ready to become a State Record, it turned out to be a small Otter. It looked at me with amazement. Being the first Otter I had seen in the wild I looked to it in wonderment as it did the same to me. It looked as if I was something from another world. It went under water then popped up down stream looking at me like I was the first human it had ever seen, then went under and up again looking at me over and over looking at me like a child with a new toy not knowing what to do with it. Then it took off down stream as fast as it could never to be seen again.

    Being in their world only visiting for a short time, only as a sport fisher I left the fishing to the Otter so it could eat. I only catch and release fish anyway, the Otter fishes to live. If I wanted Trout I could go to the store and buy it. But there is no way I could of bought that moment I saw my first Otter.
    To Fish or not to Fish? That's a stupid question.

    http://www.tu.org/

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Great Smoky Mountains
    Posts
    873

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    "Here is a partial LRO FORUM post of mine from March 2014 titled:"Elkmont, Metcalf or Otter You so Krazy!"
    5 years later and otter's are still giving anglers and trout a hard time!


    ORIGINAL POST LINK: https://littleriveroutfitters.com/fo...ighlight=otter


    "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 beer should be considered a food group on the government'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 different, 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, thinking 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 towards 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 mindedness 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 standing now mid-stream 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 Disney 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 Smokies aren't ferret size but big enough 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.
    "It starts with a raindrop, don't let it end with a teardrop!"
    "It starts with a raindrop, don't let it end with a teardrop!"

    "Nothing straightens out my mind like a twisting mountain stream!"

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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Kodak, TN
    Posts
    172

    Default STOOPID Otters !!!

    My "best" otter story is fishing 9 mile hole on the Madison in Yellowstone. I hooked a nice October brown only to have an otter go after it. I fought the brown with my left hand holding the rod and my right had tossing rocks at the otter. I won that day!

    I remember when otters were "re-introduced" into the Park on Abrams Creek, I believe in the 80's. As the Park Service is tasked with the preservation of indigenous species, they will side with the otters at the total loss "introduced" of browns and rainbows in the Park.

    Regarding otter effectiveness, I believe they do put a dent in trout numbers in smaller streams where they can trap them. A lesser effect in larger waters. I think from Park biologist statistics, anywhere from 60-80% of trout die every year? So, I like to think the otters are part of that percentage. Personally, I believe there are more big trout in the Smokies the past 5 years then during any period since the late 70's when I began fishing. That may be affected by my ability to see them better and clueless factor isn't as high as it was in my younger days.

    From my observation, the greatest cause to fishermen not catching many trout is what they wear! This is Big Orange Country, but not in the Smokies chasing trout...IMHO.

    Jim Parks

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Louisville, TN
    Posts
    608

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    If otters could eat all the trout, they would have done it a long time ago

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