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#528812 12/13/20 10:34 AM
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I am quickly learning that there is no off time in pond management. After attacking the overpopulated catfish all spring and summer I figured I was done with the pond and time to deer hunt. During bow season I could see two otters swimming in my pond 8 acre pond. There is also at least one beaver that I have not seen but the evidence in my woods is apparent. I immediately bought a trapping license and am attempting to take care of the problems.

That being said, if I saw two otters is there a high likelihood they are more or just those two. Should I assume my bass have been destroyed and I need to restock this spring? Will they eat smaller fish like bluegills as well or do they pretty much just go after bass and catfish.

I walked the bank and took the boat out around the pond i did not locate any dead fish (I’m sure I just didn’t find the pile.)

Is there any way to deter otters from coming to pond. Or will they just follow Creek’s and streams in winter and it’s inevitable. I’d rather not have otters be my enemy but choices seem limited.

rtripple #528814 12/13/20 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by rtripple
Is there any way to deter otters from coming to pond.

I hear they are allergic to lead!


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rtripple #528815 12/13/20 01:09 PM
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rtripple....otters have been a bit of a nightmare for me. They present special challenges because a family of otters eat LOTS OF FISH! Traps and shooting them slows them down, but the next ones are there the following year. Plus they can be in your pond for periods of time and you don't even know it because they mainly come out at night....which unless you have a night scope makes shooting them more difficult. I have rarely found their dead fish remains, but the otters were certainly in our pond. Our ponds drain into a small seasonal creek, that in turn drains into a larger creek, that flows into Lake Tawakoni. My trapper buddy says the males come up the creeks and look for a place to raise a family, then go back and find a female to fill the new house with kids.....really kind of like we humans do...lol. The traps catch several every year which helps, but it's an on-going battle....my otters have provided extra income for fish stockers...I have joked with the Overton's that they must be sneaking in otters when they drop my fish off. I have one in a trap right now, but it's raining so hard today, I am going to wait to check him out up close. We have a had a few beavers, but not many. Beavers don't eat fish, so that's a plus.

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rtripple #528821 12/13/20 03:41 PM
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Is there a way to tell if the otters live on my pond or visit it? There are plenty of places they could easily live and it would be tough to tell. There is an old Beaver hut a new beaver hut that is occupied. A couple old holes/dens in the bank on the forested side.

Are they mating this time of year or do they already have young I need to contend with? I’d assume if they are pairing up this time of year I have time before my problems get exponentially worse.

Ive gone bass fishing for 35-60 minutes 3 times since I have seen them and I have only caught one 14 inch fish with a deep jerkbait. If it wasn’t for the otters I wouldn’t be concerned with only catching one during mid December but now I am.

rtripple #528822 12/13/20 06:15 PM
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Otters (and Herons) have caused me to give up on my ponds as far as fish go, and only use the ponds for ornamental purposes. Too many losses of fish, too many restockings, and too much $$. If I could get it done free, I might just fill the ponds in, but that would cost almost as much as building them did.

rtripple #528823 12/13/20 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by rtripple
Is there a way to tell if the otters live on my pond or visit it? There are plenty of places they could easily live and it would be tough to tell. There is an old Beaver hut a new beaver hut that is occupied. A couple old holes/dens in the bank on the forested side.

Are they mating this time of year or do they already have young I need to contend with? I’d assume if they are pairing up this time of year I have time before my problems get exponentially worse.

Ive gone bass fishing for 35-60 minutes 3 times since I have seen them and I have only caught one 14 inch fish with a deep jerkbait. If it wasn’t for the otters I wouldn’t be concerned with only catching one during mid December but now I am.

Otters will leave scat full of fish scales - I walk perimeter of my pond to look for signs of them. In my pond they showed up starting in January last year. Ended up trapping/shooting 7 - also got a couple beaver in the traps. I don't think I lost very many fish as I got most of them before they made it into the pond or got them shortly after they arrived.

They will move into old beaver huts. I set traps near them.

Last edited by nvcdl; 12/13/20 06:57 PM.
rtripple #528825 12/13/20 07:18 PM
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rtripple...I saw this online...and learned more today

North American river otter, a member of the weasel family, is equally versatile in the water and on land.

It establishes a burrow close to the water's edge in river, lake, swamp, coastal shoreline, tidal flat, or estuary ecosystems. The den typically has many tunnel openings, one of which generally allows the otter to enter and exit the body of water. Female North American river otters give birth in these burrows, producing litters of one to six young.

North American river otters, like most predators, prey upon the most readily accessible species. Fish is a favored food among the otters. The smell and hearing abilities of the North American river otter are acute. Otters have specialized teeth, including sharp canines and carnassials that inflict lethal bites to prey. Adult North American river otters are capable of consuming 2.2 to 3.3 lbs of fish per day. OUCH!

North American river otters are active year-round, and are most active at night. They become much more nocturnal in the spring, summer, and fall seasons, and more diurnal during winter. North American river otters can remain underwater for nearly 4-8 minutes. North American river otters may even cooperate while fishing. Small fish are eaten at the surface, but larger ones are taken to the shore to be consumed. Live fish are typically eaten from the head. Fish are the primary component of the North American river otter's diet throughout the year. The potential predatory impact of otters may be considerable whenever fish are physically confined, most commonly in smaller ponds offering sparse cover or other escape options. The deciding factor whether the North American river otter can establish itself as a permanent resident of one location is the year-round availability of fish.

North American river otters typically breed from December to April. In early spring, expectant mothers begin to look for a den where they can give birth. The female otters do not dig their own dens; instead, they rely on other animals, such as beavers, to provide suitable environments to raise their offspring. When the mothers have established their domains, they give birth to several kits. Litter size can reach five, but usually ranges from one to three. The mothers raise their young without aid from adult males.

Like other otters, the North American river otter lives in a holt, or den, constructed in the burrows of other animals, or in natural hollows, such as under a log or in river banks. An entrance, which may be under water or above ground, leads to a nest chamber lined with leaves, grass, moss, bark, and hair.[22] Den sites include burrows dug by woodchucks, red foxes, nutria, or beaver and muskrat lodges. North American river otters also may use hollow trees or logs, undercut banks, rock formations, backwater sloughs, and flood debris. The use of den and resting sites is chiefly opportunistic, although locations that provide protection and seclusion are preferred.



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rtripple #528832 12/13/20 09:24 PM
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Looks like I need to buy some more traps and get on them before it gets out of hand.

rtripple #528836 12/14/20 06:46 AM
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Trapping is the only thing that has worked at my pond. They don't make themselves a target for lead. Beavers on the other hand are much easier for lead. I think that is because of the beavers poor eye sight or they do not concern themselves when it comes to humans. I am always looking for signs of otter scat and for an area where i see slot of fish scales. At my pond they seem to use CNBG as the food source since there are alot of the bg. This is based on the size of the fish scales that I find. The scales look like bg scales to me but I can not be for sure there are no lmb scales.

Last edited by TGW1; 12/14/20 06:49 AM.

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rtripple #528844 12/14/20 11:06 AM
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rtripple #528857 12/14/20 01:30 PM
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This is classic...man not pictured is Kenny who forgot the dress code and wore navy pants. Embarrassing.


Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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rtripple #528860 12/14/20 04:17 PM
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Otters are relatively predictable for trapping around a pond. Any secondary water source (such as a creek below the pond overflow or forage pond upstream) will typically have a crossover trail connecting them where the otter travel back and forth between the 2 bodies of water or they will swim through small channels of water connecting 2 larger bodies. They also quite often have toilets or slides where they come up on the bank routinely. Any of those spots make for relatively easy trapping with leghold or bodygrips. Recommend using drowning sets for otter or beaver in legholds. Beaver can be caught quite easily around their home area with a simple castor mound set using a leghold or conibear (where feasible and/or legal).

As for keeping them out, the only way I know of without "removal" is keeping a pond without fish.

rtripple #528862 12/14/20 07:55 PM
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I wonder if they would climb over a 4 foot welded wire fence?

rtripple #528863 12/14/20 08:17 PM
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I appreciate the tips. I currently have leg hold traps because I have never trapped before and they seemed easier and safer to set. I might have to buy a conibear or three and just figure it out (hopefully with my arm in one piece haha.) all I have caught is two raccoons. I have set two in the water right on obvious mudslides. The third is on a run in flooded grass.

rtripple #528868 12/15/20 04:58 AM
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I set the traps by hand. But they also make a tool to help set them.

rtripple #528869 12/15/20 06:55 AM
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Got to have the tool when setting the traps. Simple to use and safer i think. And the price is right.


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rtripple #528904 12/16/20 01:01 AM
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Ask Highflyer how easy it is to set a 330 Conibear by hand, He did it, but he was a bit red faced when he was done. Then I showed him the setting tool. LOL

I'd buy 330 Conibears or 330 Duke traps, and set them in every beaver run you find. Set them close to shore but keep them under water. Get some 220's and any dens or holes you find above the water line, put a small stick or two, even stiff grass stems across the opening. If the stick or grass stem is knocked over then you know something is using it and then set the trap in front of it. In some states it's illegal to set the 330's above the water line. Remember if you have any pets that might go near the pond, its impossible to let a pet out of a conibear alive.......

You can use foot hold traps but you have to know exactly where the animal will step, and have them set up to drown the animal. Having an animal get out of a trap makes them almost impossible to catch a 2nd time.

Otters can have a "home" territory as small as 3 square miles or as large as 30 square miles and they will "make the rounds" to find the best/easiest feeding habitat.


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rtripple #528912 12/16/20 07:56 AM
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Never even seen an otter. They seem to avoid West Texas.


It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

Boy, if I say "sic em", you'd better look for something to bite. Sam Shelley Rancher and Farmer Muleshoe Texas 1892-1985 RIP
rtripple #528917 12/16/20 08:14 AM
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Look at the self locking setting tool, it's well worth the money. I also make sure the spring latches have the open hook ends hanging down so I can rock the trap and lock them without taking my hands off the trap setter.

I've trapped a bunch of beavers with conibears, and I'm working on a huge surprise for otters right now.Twice otters have cleaned out one of my fish cages, so...


AL

rtripple #528920 12/16/20 08:22 AM
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The otters have gotten smarter. Instead of having a slide along the shoreline where I can set a trap they are now just using the pier for thier slide. And it's hard to set a connibar on the pier without trapping other things that i don't want to trap including the neighbors dog. I set up a game camera looking at the pier and the otters are showing up at 3am on the pier. The camera is set up to send a pic to the cell phone and after a short time i was getting so many pics of all the creatures that were using the pier I shut the camera off.


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rtripple #528924 12/16/20 09:57 AM
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Tracy....do you sometimes have birds make a mess on your pier?

A few times I've had a mess on one of mine (see pic), but after adding some bird deterrance devices it's not nearly as bad.

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I mounted this device on the piers and it has helped some....btw different sellers of this vary greatly on price.

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rtripple #528957 12/17/20 10:26 AM
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ZEP, i do see where they have made the pier a place to eat and poop. Goes in one end and out the other. Now don't missunderstand but i find the bird device a little more than what I might do. smile Look at what some of us, and all we do to keep Mother Nature from effecting our plans with our ponds. I find it all a little funny, including even what i have done at the pond over the years. And for me, i am not sure anything i did other than otter traps have done little to disturb the other creatures that come to the pond.


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rtripple #528962 12/17/20 12:30 PM
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If they are using the pier, I would try a baited bucket with a conibear in front of it down in the water nearby. I don't know if I'll be able to explain this well, but you cut small notches on either side of the opening of a 5 gallon bucket so that a 220 conibear can sit in front with the spring inside the slots. Then, drill 2 small holes in the bottom so you can run wire into the bucket to wire a fish in place at the bottom. Sink the bucket so there is 18" or more water over it, place the 220 in the notches, and wire the trap chain to a concrete block or stake off to the side. Not as effective, in my opinion, as blind sets on their trails, but since you know they are frequenting that spot I would be confident in a catch.



What size legholds are you using rtripple?

On conibears, there are safety latches on both springs and I don't put my hands anywhere near the jaws without them on. Removing them is the very last thing I do after the set is totally made. Still hurts if you get pinched, but at least you won't get the full force of the trap.

rtripple #528979 12/17/20 09:52 PM
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I am not sure the of the size of the duke traps. They were rated for raccoon and about the size of my hand when set. I can check next time I’m out there. I plan on buying more traps and setting them out in front of every critter hole and fresh slide I can find. I just hope my bass are ok. I have spent way too much time eradicating catfish and stocking bass and bluegill to get the pond on track. I’d hate to see my bass gone. Won’t know the damage until spring (when it’s easier to catch multiple bass.)

rtripple #528992 12/18/20 02:43 PM
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I would bet money on 1 1/2 then, extremely common racoon trap. They work fine for otter but are pretty small for a blind set, especially for someone learning to trap. Using something like a #3 allows a little more room for error and isn't inhumane on an otter, IMO. They have pretty large feet and thick legs so you aren't likely to maim them....and yes I realize the irony of not wanting to injure something before you kill it. I think a couple 220 or 330 conibears are your best bet though.

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