Sunday, 5 December 2010

Holt sweet home for otters in the Fens

Otters have moved into an artificial holt just months after it was built on the banks of a Fen drain, local paper the Cambs Times reports. Click here for story and video.

But what's it mean for pike fishing..? Otters have also colonised a complex of gravel pits popular with pike anglers near King's Lynn.

While no pike carcases have been found, the animals have been seen by anglers in swims which regularly produced fish in recent seasons but now appear devoid of both prey fish and pike.

We're clearly going to have to live with these creatures, which have now successfully fought their way back from the brink of extinction in many areas.

Pesticides and hunting almost wiped them out in the 1970s. Since then chemicals like DDT have been banned, and our rivers have become far cleaner.

While the captive breeding and release programme has now been halted, their numbers are increasing in many areas.

Vast numbers of sand and gravel pits have been dug in many of our major river catchments over the last 30 years, to provide the raw materials for new roads and homes.

Once worked out, they're usually stocked with fish which provide the otters with a ready larder. When the rivers are coloured-up or out of sorts, Tarka turns to the clear stillwaters and their torpid carp, bream and tench.

How they'll impact longer-term on pike fishing remains to be seen. But there's no denying one thing - they're a truly incredible sight in the wild, which makes for a memorable day.

1 comment:

  1. Make no mistake...the otter is having a detrimental effect on pike fishing whether we want to face up to it or not!

    I live on a river and in the last 10 years have seen 5 fresh otter pike kills (I say 'fresh' as usually a fox will take the carcass before it is seen by man) This suggests this is just the tip of the iceberg (on my river anyway).

    You are right when you say the otter is an incredible sight if you ever see one, but that's the problem... the otter shy's away from man so whilst it is rarely seen, it's impact on fish stocks are being deeply felt.

    My stretch of the river was famous for the quality and quantity of it's barbel. But due to otter predation it's not any more. (I have it on good authority that what barbel are left have changed their feeding habits and now feed in the middle of the day, hiding well away at night!)

    I personally saw a dog otter take a large double figure barbel one evening during Nov 98.

    I am not anti otter and believe a healthy river system should support all wild life. The trouble is with cray fish at the bottom, cormorants in the middle and otters at the top... you'd be hard pushed design a better predation strategy to ruin fishing.

    Posh Pikey