Fishin’ with otters

By Larry Dablemont, Contributing Columnist
Posted 7/10/24

I hate to be laughed at! But I know a bunch of you folks out there are going to laugh at this… In southern Bangladesh there are native people who live along the rivers that feed the ocean, who …

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Fishin’ with otters


I hate to be laughed at! But I know a bunch of you folks out there are going to laugh at this… In southern Bangladesh there are native people who live along the rivers that feed the ocean, who train otters and use them to fish in those tributaries. Those otters are bred in captivity and trained to herd fish into the nets of village fishermen.

They are led to boats on leashes, eight or ten at a time, and they willingly climb into cages on the boat. I saw all of this on a nature show of some sort on Public Television. I hate television except for the nature films, especially those on British Broadcasting, where you can see a new world and the nature of it, so fascinating and revealing that it makes me realize indeed how great the Creator is. I learn a lot from those films, and you could never have convinced me that someone could train an otter as those were trained, as well as any dogs you have ever seen.

At low tide, the Bangladesh rivers are easy to navigate and the fishermen place nets off the sides of the boat, release the otters into the river and let them drive fish toward and into the nets. It is hard to believe how well it works. The film showed the fishermen calling in the otters after the nets were full, and feeding them fish that made up a percentage of the total catch, the reward for a job well done.

It was amazing to me that several of the older otters were not on leashes but roamed free as the others were led on leashes. Still, when they got to the boat they jumped right into their cages. In the water, the otters, easily a dozen of them, seemed to understand how to work as a team. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

There are few mammals as smart as otters. They are smarter than raccoons. But they are what you might consider vicious and bloodthirsty in the wild. While their diet is chiefly fish, crawdads, bullfrogs and water snakes, they can take to land to catch and eat rabbits, young turkeys and anything else they can catch. An acquaintance of mine told me he witnessed an otter with his long body wrapped around the neck of a small fawn trying to drag it into the river, where he could have drowned it, like a raccoon often drowns a coonhound. My new book is entitled, “The Buck That Kilt the Widow Jones,” a book of 30 short stories with 264 pages of reading about the outdoors and the Ozarks. The cost is fifteen dollars but if you can get aholt of me on the phone I will give you a discount and autograph it to you. The first 100 we send out will be numbered.

I have been spending lots of time at my desk the last month due to surgery on my knee which is suppose to make it 100 percent well. But it still hurts and only because I am a toughened, grizzled old outdoor veteran am I able to go fishing. But my daughter Christy and I went up the Sac River last Saturday and found it too muddy and high to fish the portion of it we wanted to. Fortunately I remembered a creek where I caught lots of big Kentucky bass last spring so we found a nice little deep hole up that creek about four in the evening and caught very little. Christy got a couple of small bass, lost a good one and then had another one break her line. Because of my knee I had trouble running the trolling motor, but finally tied on big spinner bait and on the first cast it was jolted by a whopper-doc of a fish. I fought the rascal around for ten minutes or so, expecting a big bass to break water in an attempt to throw the hook, but that didn’t happen. Christy waited with the net, caught a glimpse of the fish and said it looked like a big drum. That’s when I realized what it was, a fish completely out of place, up the creek in July.

Hybrids, a cross between a striper male and white bass female, come up the sac in big numbers each fall, and also in early spring, but not in July. Well I had a hold of a two-foot long hybrid, and I limped around the boat trying to slow its runs in that little bluff hole on a creek where it should never have been. It isn’t there now, as my daughter got a net under the battler and we had it for Sunday dinner. Hybrids, like white bass are good to eat if you take off all the red meat found on filets.

You can see me holding up that big hybrid, almost ten pounds I reckon, but at least better than eight. Because of my weakened, hurting leg, Christy and I will forever refer to the afternoon tussle with the big fish as the ‘battle of wounded knee’.

Contact me in my office at phone 417 777 5227, or email me at The place to read past columns and see that big fish is www.larrydablemontoutdoors.