First Otter

Cap'n Fishy

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 29, 2008
Messages
25,937
Location
Embra
The point fact is that man like other people have said controls the environment directly and indirectly.

He does. So, you reckon that gives him the right to exterminate otters?

In Spain birds are shot as sport their identity and hunting passion etc is different to the UK. UK guns by and large are frowned on. Pheasants largely rared to be blasted at the annual shoot is about as much hunting as you can hope for or deer hunting or the cute little rabbit with an air rifle, Fox hunting being banned etc.

Is there a point to this?

Do I shed a tear looking at an osprey flying over a lake, or an otter bobbing along in steam ans no.

Why should anyone shed a tear when they see those? :unsure:

But man reintroduced the otter, because some ecoclogist figured they would be great to get it be back.

That's just bollox. Its numbers and range were greatly reduced largely due to persecution and pesticides. After the elimination of the pesticides, some localised reintroductions were required simply to get numbers back to where they should have been all along, before the big decline.

Hundred of years of breeding go into the otter hound (dog) for one reason to hunt otters. There is solid proof that man is a predator and uses other animals as the tool or rifle as the case might be.

That doesn't make man a predator in the biological sense. Man's dentition is that of an omnivore. Man breeding otter hounds is an example of how he exploits the natural world to his own ends. You want your fish for yourself, so you kill all those animals that compete with you for them.

Finally when you have had an otter as a pet and had to feed it you soon know how much they fish they eat!

Well, duh-uh.. it's an animal that eats fish. What else do you expect it to eat?

Just occasionally the ecologists reckon hunting and killing badgers is a good thing! To keep the numbers down....

That is nothing to do with keeping badger numbers down. It is a hotly disputed issue regarding bovine TB, and a complete strawman argument as far as otters is concerned.
 

Cap'n Fishy

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 29, 2008
Messages
25,937
Location
Embra
Thats the comparison that always makes me smile.
We all go ooohhh and aahhh when we see the Osprey stoop, and take a fish from our Lochs.
Often several, and they do it day after day whilst they are here.
Change the pair or so, of Ospreys to a pair or so, of cormorants doing same, and all hell breaks loose!
regards
Bert

A 'pair or so' of cormorants? I suspect that if it were just a 'pair or so' of cormorants, all Hell would not break loose... 😗
 

BobP

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 28, 2007
Messages
8,621
Location
Wiltshire
I thoroughly enjoy seeing Otters , a highlight of any day on the river for me . I noticed on the Wharfe the local Otter or Otters were eating the American crayfish that seem to be in abundance in the upper stretches .

A whole lot easier than chasing around after fish. Signals do a lot more harm to the river's ecology than otters and are hundreds, if not thousands, of times more plentiful.

To get back to the original point, back in 2016 I was guiding on the Fishing Breaks River Test One Fly competition. We were drawn on one of the Test tributary streams. The chap I was with started at the bottom of the beat and slowly fished his way upstream. He had caught three trout as we approached a sharp bend in the river. One the far bank was a large tree with a web of roots growing down into the water. I looked upstream as he fished this deep bend and saw a large swirl on the water surface and told my chap that I thought a big fish had just moved five yards past the corner. It then did it again and both of us saw it, but there was something about the water movement that didn't look quite right.

At that moment we saw the "culprits". A female otter and her half grown youngster came twisting and turning down towards the tree, dived under the water and disappeared. There was obviously a holt under the tree roots.

Alan's observation was that it had probably ruined the fishing, but changed his mind when he caught a trout on his next cast. As we moved up past the bend towards a hatchpool Mrs Lutra and her youngster came swimming back upstream, shot through the pool and out onto the far bank. We didn't see them again. They were the first otters I had seen in England. I had seen several on the Isle of Mull a few years before and watched two for an hour feeding on small fish so close that I could clearly hear them crunching as they ate.

As far as ruining the fishing went, Alan caught 35 trout in that competition and won it by the proverbial street.

I remember a fish farmer and fishery owner telling me a few weeks after an illegal otter release near his farm that his children were fascinated by the sight of a stream of otters heading for one of the stock ponds. He said it was like watching the M4, but the otters were trotting in empty and waddling out full! He didn't mind them having a few fish, but it was the stress that killed more than the otters did.
 

thetrouttickler

Well-known member
Joined
May 15, 2009
Messages
2,202
Location
West Sussex
I saw (two) otters for the very first time in the UK a few weekends ago, on a tributary of the Itchen.

One of my most surreal fishing experiences was seeing two Cape otters from a float tube in a lake in Swaziland. They emerged from the murky depths right next to my tube and I bricked it. They are bigger than European otters too.

We share the environment with other living things. Man needs to stop thinking of himself as controller of the environment - rather he is a part of it.
 

boorod

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 22, 2010
Messages
3,829
Location
Where the trout are
Do I shed a tear looking at an osprey flying over a lake, or an otter bobbing along in steam ans no. Can I appreciate nature, you bet. But man reintroduced the otter,Having seen first hand what they can do (from a fishermans point of view) no I don't like them because of the damage to fish

Just occasionally the ecologists reckon hunting and killing badgers is a good thing! To keep the numbers down....and in 30 years time they might decide to do the same thing with the otters.

Attitudes like that against Otters and now Badgers, no wonder the wildlife in this country is vanishing, Im on the river 6 day;s a week, and have a good population off Otters along our stretch, and yet im still to see carcasses off trout or grayling lying all over the place half eaten by Otters, and as said those with comercial fisheries with there prized carp, should have otter fencing around there premises to at least try and protect it., Its not the Otters fault, man fires fish into dug out ponds, what do he expect. so get a grip.
 

Cap'n Fishy

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 29, 2008
Messages
25,937
Location
Embra
Sorry, but it does.
Bert

There was 'a pair or so' of cormorants for many years. 'All Hell has broken loose' much more recently due to the big increase in their numbers...



... and we only have ourselves to blame on that score as well.
 
Last edited:

lipslicker

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 17, 2014
Messages
5,276
@Cap'n Fishy

We have many otters on my river, and I take great delight in seeing them. From an early age, having seen them as a child on Skye, I have been fascinated by them, so thought it wonderful when they reintroduced them up here, in Yorkshire.

Your posts throughout this thread, and from some others, have put my mind at rest, because I was starting to fear.
You see, over the course of the last ten years, our fish stocks have fallen off a cliff, and I am not being over dramatic.

There was much talk about otters being the cause, because they had been put down every 5 miles, when I was told they needed about 10 miles each.
So your posts have been reassuring.

They are beautiful animals.

I am inclined to think the drop in stocks are possibly more related to overly warm summers or flooding, killing fry or washing them away, or a reduction in insect life, or dairy waste, but it is hard to know for sure.
 

Cap'n Fishy

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 29, 2008
Messages
25,937
Location
Embra
@Cap'n Fishy

We have many otters on my river, and I take great delight in seeing them. From an early age, having seen them as a child on Skye, I have been fascinated by them, so thought it wonderful when they reintroduced them up here, in Yorkshire.

Your posts throughout this thread, and from some others, have put my mind at rest, because I was starting to fear.
You see, over the course of the last ten years, our fish stocks have fallen off a cliff, and I am not being over dramatic.

There was much talk about otters being the cause, because they had been put down every 5 miles, when I was told they needed about 10 miles each.
So your posts have been reassuring.

They are beautiful animals.

I am inclined to think the drop in stocks are possibly more related to overly warm summers or flooding, killing fry or washing them away, or a reduction in insect life, or dairy waste, but it is hard to know for sure.

I would be inclined to think that the very presence of otters (which will soon sort out their required territory size themselves) is an indicator of a healthy river with good fish stocks. I suspect that if the fish stocks are depleted for whatever reason, there will be no food to sustain the otters and they will move elsewhere, or die of starvation.

And I guess by that token, one could argue that the presence of 200 cormorants is an indicator of a healthy fishery! 🤪

Col
 

lipslicker

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 17, 2014
Messages
5,276
I would be inclined to think that the very presence of otters (which will soon sort out their required territory size themselves) is an indicator of a healthy river with good fish stocks. I suspect that if the fish stocks are depleted for whatever reason, there will be no food to sustain the otters and they will move elsewhere, or die of starvation.

And I guess by that token, one could argue that the presence of 200 cormorants is an indicator of a healthy fishery! 🤪

Col

I take that point, but respond that I have been seeing them with less frequency now, and have suspected they are moving into countryside to take pheasants, or mammals.
Whilst I love my fishing, I think seeing an otter, or a Kingfisher, gives me greater pleasure than catching a fish.
I guess, when I am down to catching literally nothing I might reappraise that, LOL

Pity Natural England did not make a great effort to keep the rivers well stocked with fish during this initial release phase though.
Two reasons -
- might have kept otters on the rivers
- might have stopped anglers blaming them for the decline.
 

Cap'n Fishy

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 29, 2008
Messages
25,937
Location
Embra
I take that point, but respond that I have been seeing them with less frequency now, and have suspected they are moving into countryside to take pheasants, or mammals.
Whilst I love my fishing, I think seeing an otter, or a Kingfisher, gives me greater pleasure than catching a fish.
I guess, when I am down to catching literally nothing I might reappraise that, LOL

Pity Natural England did not make a great effort to keep the rivers well stocked with fish during this initial release phase though.
Two reasons -
- might have kept otters on the rivers
- might have stopped anglers blaming them for the decline.

Looked up a few sources of info just now, and the commonly quoted territory is an average of about 11 miles of river per otter. Got to think that a healthy river can support an otter every 11 miles, eh? You've got anglers (including poachers) taking fish, other predators - sawbill ducks, herons, cormorants, American mink, pike, ospreys, et al, all taking fish. How on earth is there no room for an otter every 11 miles?

No mention of stillwaters, and many live on lochs rather than rivers, so I don't know how they set up their territories. The Shetland Islands have the biggest concentration of otters in the British Isles: 12% of them! And there are no real rivers there - so they live along the coast on a diet of sea fish and crabs and octopuses and the likes. Bound to be some of them living on lochs - same as the Orkneys and Uists.

This from South Uist...



Col
 

lipslicker

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 17, 2014
Messages
5,276
Looked up a few sources of info just now, and the commonly quoted territory is an average of about 11 miles of river per otter. Got to think that a healthy river can support an otter every 11 miles, eh? You've got anglers (including poachers) taking fish, other predators - sawbill ducks, herons, cormorants, American mink, pike, ospreys, et al, all taking fish. How on earth is there no room for an otter every 11 miles?

No mention of stillwaters, and many live on lochs rather than rivers, so I don't know how they set up their territories. The Shetland Islands have the biggest concentration of otters in the British Isles: 12% of them! And there are no real rivers there - so they live along the coast on a diet of sea fish and crabs and octopuses and the likes. Bound to be some of them living on lochs - same as the Orkneys and Uists.

This from South Uist...



Col

Been there.
😀

Yeah, simply no idea why they put them down every 5 miles. Must be a reason.
Perhaps they figured 1/2 would struggle to get through the first season, or would get caught in mink traps or something?
 

SirHarryLewis

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 2, 2020
Messages
132
Amazing for me to hear that one could be fishing for 40 years and not see one. There are few evenings that I don't.

Are grass snakes curious on the water? . I'd crap myself if I saw one
 

JohnH

Well-known member
Joined
May 18, 2006
Messages
4,444
Location
Near Southampton
Ref the previous 2 posts. I have a copy of Simon Cooper's book "The Otter's Tale" - recommended. When I read it I learned that otters aren't very long lived animals, perhaps 5 years max. And if a bitch otter has more than 2 pups in her litter, she will quite rapidly drive the excess away to either take it's / their chances, or to die young...

I saw a large grass snake swimming along in Sutton Bingham reservoir a few years ago, and a smaller one (or a slow worm ?) swimming in a small local commercial coarse fishery earlier this summer. They simply seemed to be going about their business with little regard for me or anything else.
 

BobP

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 28, 2007
Messages
8,621
Location
Wiltshire
Re the grass snake thing, years ago when I first joined the water industry in fisheries I was with some colleagues doing a fish population survey on the River Thame in Oxfordshire. We used stop nets top and bottom to seal off a 100 metre section of river, electric fished it and when we had processed and returned the fish two of us went to the top stop net to retrieve it and two to the bottom net. I went to the top net and my colleague hopped into the water, waded across and released the net from its anchorage point. I began to pull it in from my side and he was in mid-river pulling in the loose net and shaking off any weed etc that had caught up in it.

He wasn't really looking what he was doing, just getting hold of the top line of the net plus a few inches of mesh and pulling in hand over hand. I saw what looked like a biggish strand of weed caught in the top of the net and as he grabbed hold of it he let out a yell as he had just got hold of a very much alive grass snake which was entwined in some of the meshes. luckily the snake was unhurt and when he had recovered we laid out that part of the net on the ground and the snake had disappeared when we returned a few minutes later.

I don't know what type of snake they have in Austria but a couple of times I've encountered some serious reptiles at least 3' long and very dark in colour. I actually trod on one in the long grass which gave me a bit of a turn. Certainly makes me careful where I put my hands when climbing out of the water!
 

thetrouttickler

Well-known member
Joined
May 15, 2009
Messages
2,202
Location
West Sussex
Certainly makes me careful where I put my hands when climbing out of the water!

I nearly did that to a Tiger snake in New South Wales. They are deadly. I saw several more in Tasmania on another trip to Aus. Here is the tail of one of them.

Screenshot_20200922-173502_Samsung Internet.jpg

I spent 3 months in the American West and saw a snake roughly every 2nd fishing trip.

Coming from South Africa I am very attuned to looking out for snakes when fishing. They are very common around water courses and many are lethal.
 

boorod

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 22, 2010
Messages
3,829
Location
Where the trout are
The Shetland Islands have the biggest concentration of otters in the British Isles: 12% of them! And there are no real rivers there - so they live along the coast on a diet of sea fish and crabs and octopuses and the likes. Bound to be some of them living on lochs - same as the Orkneys and Uists.

This from South Uist...



Col
Exactly, those Otters that are seen feeding on the coast of these islands do infact habitat the lochs, they will move between them to feed on the rich food that the sea produces, and back to the fresh water lochs for to clean and drink and there holts, hence the sign in your photo there Col, otters on the move.
 

boorod

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 22, 2010
Messages
3,829
Location
Where the trout are
Ref the previous 2 posts. I have a copy of Simon Cooper's book "The Otter's Tale" - recommended. When I read it I learned that otters aren't very long lived animals, perhaps 5 years max. And if a bitch otter has more than 2 pups in her litter, she will quite rapidly drive the excess away to either take it's / their chances, or to die young...

I saw a large grass snake swimming along in Sutton Bingham reservoir a few years ago, and a smaller one (or a slow worm ?) swimming in a small local commercial coarse fishery earlier this summer. They simply seemed to be going about their business with little regard for me or anything else.
Good read that book. (y)
 
Top