Wintle?s World ? A little too precious?

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Dave Slater

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<blockquote class=quoteheader>Nigel Connor(ACA ,SAA) wrote (see)</blockquote><blockquote class=quote>Mark, I completely agree.</blockquote>

Me too Mark<blockquote class=quote>
</blockquote><blockquote class=quoteheader>Philip wrote (see)</blockquote><blockquote class=quote>

Otters can devastate a fishery. Anyone who doubts that should try to get hold of an Article Fred Sykes wrote for Carpworld a few years back. My view is thatthe problem nowadays is that we know and identify individual fish and so Otter predation becomes more “personal” ...it did not just eat a few chub this morning…it ate “Sally”! ... if you see what I mean. </blockquote>

And there lies the problem. We spend far too much time fishing for known fish. Fishing was far more enjoyable years ago before the obsession with known fish. This is why I always try to avoid fishing for known fish. The surprise is alwaysfar more enjoyable than following somebody else. Just enjoy the fishing and take pleassure inwhatever good results come from spending time in pleasant surroundings. I think things will balance out with the otters in time and I have caught some very big previously, as far as I know, unknown fish from stretches of river I know arefrequented by otters.
 

Xplorer1

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Right on Mark. Beautifully crafted and a perfect expression of your - and my - sentiments.

Nei
 

Stealph Viper

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An extremely well written article.

Although i agree with the aspects of being able to enjoy all of our fishing, i do also think that anglers in general will always set themselves targets.

For me it is being able to learn something new about the styles of fishing that i partake in. Whether that's plumbing new swims on a regularly fished water or targeting new species or dare i say it catching a new personal best.

I do not go fishing to set my stall out to catch the biggest fish in the lake but if i do catch the biggest fish in the lake i would not be ashamed to record that catch.

If i was to catch100lb of fish from a commercial fishery, i would also record that as the largestweight of fish i had ever caught and i would be proud of that achievement.

This way i could see if i was making any approvements to my fishing and my knowledge of the techniques i was using and refining them techniques for further successes even if they didn't always result in new personal bests.

I have sat on the banks of many lakes and completely blanked, but i have still sat there for 12 hours just incase one fish did come along. The next time on the exact same fishery i could bag up. These questions would pose for me what did i do differently, was it the weather, the bait, the rigs etc.

So yes, i agree, that it's not always about the biggest fish, or the biggest weights, but sometimes it is just about the biggest weights and the biggest fish, especially if you have just landed them. I unashameadly weigh any fish that i think my be a new personal best for myself, i have got quite good at judging from the size of the fish whether or not it will be close or not, i don't weigh every fish i catch.

I am however also very content just to be catching or learning whilst i am fishing, but i still have that desire to catch bigger and more fish if i can.

As for Otter's, they deserve to and have a right to live within there chosen and rightful environments, it is us who have encroached on there territory and not them encroaching on ours. I also agree though that where there numbers over run places that they should be controlled to allow an even equalibrium to the environment and other species living within that environment.

Tight Lines /forum/smilies/devil_smiley.gif
 

Peter Jacobs

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In keeping with most of the above posts I agree in principle with most of what Mark has said in another excellent article.

It is not surprising though that many of the above contributors are, like me, 'of a certain age' who have lived and fished through many changing angling periods. I wonder what many of the younger generation of (instant) anglers would have made of the article though(?)

Where I do disagree however is with the comments on the reintroduction of the Otter as I am at a loss to find any sound, detailed scientific evidience of studies having been undertaken. This, to the point where the words 'ill-conceived' might apply.

Given the reproductive cycles of the Otter I cannot help but think that 'we' may have created (yet another) environmental time bomb.

.
 
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Dave Slater

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I am pretty sure they will find their own level eventually Peter. If they do die off again then so be it.
 

Graham Whatmore

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The problem with the re-introduction of long or recentextinct species is the environment that they require to exist is no longer available and probably the reason for them dying out, the otter being but one of those. There are muttering to re-introduce beavers, great, I love the thought of beavers in our countryside but where are the trees adjacent to rivers to sustain them? As with the lack of fish quantity in our rivers to sustain a few more otters so is the lack of trees a problem for beavers whose very existence relies on trees and being allowed to dam rivers which in itself would be a massive bone of contention with landowners but not a problem to anglers as far as I can see.

We as anglers should learn to live with any wildlife that relies on our river systems for its existence and the likes of otters should not be seen as a threat to our sport. Otters lived in our river systems for thousands of years (they became extinct mainly through hunting but there were other factors)and the fish didn't become extinct because of their predation, quite the opposite in fact, they thrived because that is how nature works, it compensates - we humans I am afraid do not, we take from nature but we rarely contribute. We anglers take great pleasure from our sport and it is beholden upon us to give the wildlife of our rivers all the help it needs to survive and if this means catching five fish instead of ten fish then so be it.
 
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Fred Bonney

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We have patches Paul, sometimes they last a little longer than elsewhere!/forum/smilies/wink_smiley.gif
 

coelacanth

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<blockquote class=quoteheader>Peter Jacobs wrote (see)</blockquote><blockquote class=quote>

Where I do disagree however is with the comments on the reintroduction of the Otter as I am at a loss to find any sound, detailed scientific evidience of studies having been undertaken. This, to the point where the words 'ill-conceived' might apply.</blockquote>

What studies in particular? There's a considerable body of research co-ordinated by Cardiff University, a published UK Biodiversity Action Plan, plus volumes of work held in the library at the Institute of Zoology (ZSL).

It would seem to be far less ill-conceived than many of the relocations of fish species that have taken place for the selfish indulgence of a few anglers withparticular interests. Doesn't necessarily justify it, but I wonder how many of those who splutter about a native mammal would happily visit the Ebroto catch Wels, fish in UK waters for F1s, Zanderor Wels, or would if given the chance, visit the Southern Hemisphere for Sea Trout fishing (where they are not native and have heavily impacted native freshwaterfish species in both New Zealand andPatagonia)?
 

Gary Dolman

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I have never seen an otter in the wild, apart from sea otters in california, but it does appear that except for breeding & bringing up cubs they are a fairly solitary and wide ranging animal.

I can imagine that if stocking is carried out in a particular area their impact will be initially high, but I can't imagine that they will go rampaging through the countryside, laying waste to fish populations & breeding like rabbits.

If you have a river system with a small number of large fish then the impact of losing a few fish could be really dissapointing, but surely if a river has a healthy mixed stocking then there is room for both angler & otter. Anyway it is well known that their preferred food is eels, but that is another issue.
 
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Dave Slater

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Gary,

There were so many eels in the rivers down here that they were a nuisance a few years ago. If only they were present in those quantities now. Everybody would then be pleased to see more otters.

/forum/smilies/smile_smiley.gif
 

chub angler

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Dave what do you think about otters spreading to new rivers on their own. I think the problems start when they are introduced artificially.
 
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Dave Slater

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I don't know enough about them to comment. I don't know if they spread to new rivers on their own. If the artificially introduced ones are introduced illegally and irresponsibly there may be a short term problem as nobody would know how many had been introduced but my personal belief is that things would sort themselves out in time. I have a feeling that in addition to those officially introduced down here more may have been introduced illegally but, as I have no proof, I will never know for sure. Still it will all sort itself out in the end.

I think Corelacanth can will be able to give you a qualified opinion on the points you ask about.
 

coelacanth

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<blockquote class=quoteheader>Dave Slater wrote (see)</blockquote><blockquote class=quote>

I think Coelacanth can will be able to give you a qualified opinion on the points you ask about.</blockquote>


I thinkfrom reading whatMark (who authored the piecethat started the discussion) haswritten in the past, he'dis better placed to offer a broad perspective. My knowledge area is fish, I just know where and how to findinformation on other topics around biology and ecology, there's a good proportion of the material relating toOttersonline anyway.

My view is simplythat in order to be seen as stewards and protectors of the naturalenvironment, we can't be too selective about what we do or don't support, whether or not (as Mark says) it happens to impact on a small number of anglers who prefer situations where abnormal fish population profiles are the norm. Target the cause of those, not a native animal that was extirpated from much of the UK by our previous mismanagement of the environment. Otherwise it makes us no better than those idiot pigeonfiddlers who willingly persecute Peregrines just because theydare tofollowtheir natural instincts.
 

Mark Wintle

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Some facts about otters:

1. They never became extinct in this country but they were absent from many river systems. They retreated to the wilder Western parts of Britain which were largely pesticide free and undredged unlike the lowland areas. On rivers like the Stour they remained present albeit in much reduced numbers. I can remember artificial holts being constructed at Bere Marsh Mill site in 1979 and on the River Piddle at the same time. Hunting stopped when it was realised that the decline was from reasons other than hunting ie pesticides and habitat loss.

2. They can cross from river to another, usually through following rivers up to the watershed.

3. The artificial propagation of otters speeded up what would have happened naturally but may well have achieved in a decade what would possibly eventually have happened in 30, 40, 50 years, and probably some areas due to urban encroachment would have remained otter-free as the access would be unlikely.

As has been correctly pointed out the artificial propagation of the following alien species was hardly done after appropriate studies: rabbits, zander, rhodedendrons, grey squirrels, carp, japanese knotweed, signal crayfish, Sika deer (1000 a year being culled in Isle of Purbeck - 50 sq miles - alone). And then there's the artificial propagation of native species to other waters...
 

Steve Spiller

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Very good article Mark andI hold my hands up...GUILTY...

It became an obsession for me at the end of the last season (on my river) and looking back I didn't enjoy it. I aim to change that next Autumn, I will still have my target, but I intend to enjoy every fish along the way this time.

I've seen three otters in 36 years, the first was on your Stour opposite the "V" tree swim, it was huge and I watched it for several minutes out of the water on the bank. The other occasion was on the Somerset Levels, which are just straight drains. Me and Wend saw a pair of them porpoising towards us like mini lochness monsters, as they got near us they just disappeared.
 

Clive Moore 2

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good article Mark.

about the otters, they are bound to predate on fish, and unfortunately large fish,and they are a part of the ecosystem....... this may have to be accepted and fishery owners take action like fencing their waters if thats what it comes to.

i have witnessed dead carp on a small,favorite, low stock venue of mine, where the fish are nice doubles and right characters, and its not pleasant.......scales ALL over the venue and fish heads and carcusses. the worst part about it is that the fish are quality from a lovely lake thats rarely fished.

hearing about big carp being killed is also no nice, and especially old historic fish as i feel these are the reel gems of the sport (as are the old ones that are less know and perhaps undiscovered!!!!) size isnt everything but its certainly a nice aspect to the sport, and im sure everyone loves to break a PB. Targeting big fish in a slavish manner and letting it dictate your fishing is not for me, and i assume the same formany others who have posted, but if its in the water you are fishing its the mystery and the chance that it could be caught by you.

as for the numbers game and match fishing, i see little in it, and it creates a demand for overstocked waters which are not my idea of fishing and may also ruin a venue if it is stocked extensively.

QUALITY!!!
 

Philip

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To add a little more on Otters…

One of the things not always realized is the size of the fish an Otter can kill. A 30 pound Carp is not immune to an Otter. No surprise either that it tends to be the biggest and slowest moving fish that get hit first.

They also prefer a fresh fish each day and will only eat a small part of what they catch and leave the rest. I have seen photos of Carp in excess of 20pounds with only a small part of the tail eaten (tell tale peeling of the skin from the fish shows it’s an Otter). Despite the fish still being on the bank the Otter still preferred to catch a new one the next day.

Chemicals and traps appeared to have limited success and fencing seems to be the most effective way to protect a fishery but this is done at huge expense and the fence has to be specially adapted for Otters and ideally electrified. A standard rabbit fence was not good enough. The maintenance is also a costly nightmare as any hole anywhere will let the Otters in.

Having said that I don’t want to appear totally anti Otter as like Dave I believe that they will control themselves. However I think it really depends on where the Otters turn up. Very broadly speaking if they turn up on a river like say the Avon I cant see much issue with it.On the other hand if they turn up on say a small stocked commercial fishery I can see a huge problem with it as a pair of Otters can wipe out the entire stock in one winter.That can mean literally tens of thousands of pounds and a livelihood down the drain not to mention fish that can be in excess of 40 years old lost forever.

I don’t know what the answer is. I suggested quite a few years ago on this web site that perhaps the SACG could do something about it…I think they tried…but I don’t know if that organization even still exists anymore.Perhaps there is another angling body out there now that can help or advise.
 
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