If you spot a trail or slide into the lake, place a 911 call to the local trapper.  The sign might be beaver traffic. But if it’s otters, in a short time, they severely deplete quality fish populations it took years to grow.

A long-time customer passionately managed his 18-acre for many years.  Watching big bluegill and catfish feed at his dock was a treat.  Occasionally, a large bass crashed the party picking-off a bluegill. Bass catch rates might be 60 to 80 per day, averaging 2 to 4 pounds.

Extended travel prevented regular lake visits for several months. When returning, he observed an almost eerie atmosphere.  While checking feeders, he noticed dreaded slides around the shoreline. He placed the 911 call. It wasn’t long until the worst fears were confirmed.  We conducted an electrofishing survey to assess conditions.  Normally, the live well would be full.  That day, we saw about a dozen bass.

Otters have long, slim bodies, short legs, and powerful webbed feet. Most have sharp claws and long, strong tails. Adults are 2 to 5 feet long and weigh 2 to 30 pounds. Typically, they hunt three to five hours a day. Females with pups might roam for 8 hours.

Research indicates common river otters usually enter the water to hunt or travel. They spend the most time on land to prevent fur from getting waterlogged. Otters appear playful and exhibit various behaviors for enjoyment. Some are solitary; others live in groups.

Otters are transient and don’t stay in one place long. The most common access to private lakes is creek waterways.  They travel up or down stream, cross over dams into lakes, and feed on big fish.  A veteran trapper explained encounters with fish are a cat-and-mouse game.  Otters play with fish and eat primarily abdominal areas, not the full carcass.  When fish stop flopping, they find another and may prey on multiple victims per day.  After scavenging prime targets, they migrate to another location.

Closely monitor signs for early detection.  Delayed action can damage fish populations in a short time.