Otters swipe anglers' fish from stringers on Lake Taneycomo

They may be cute, but otters are becoming somewhat of a nuisance for fishermen at Lake Taneycomo.

Photo courtesy of: Lilleys' Landing

The otter population has made a come back in Missouri and, now, the animals are coming after anglers' catches.

"The otter will come along and grab the fish and pull it off the stringer," Lilleys' Landing Owner Phil Lilley said.

Families come to Lilleys' Landing to reel in the Rainbows.

"Rainbow Trout," Andrea Bianchi said.

However, with cleaning sinks located on the dock, otters come, too.

"The guts go in the lake," Lilley said. "This is the attractant. This is why the otters come to our dock."

They also stop off at stringers to swipe fresh trout.

"We've had one or two people get upset about it, but we like to point out that you can go home and tell your friends 'Yeah, I caught some fish but an otter stole it,'" Lilley said.

Lilley says otters used to not come around the marina too much.

"Maybe eight or nine years ago we started seeing otters and I think we've seen a steady increase in the population," Lilley said.

That's partly due to the Missouri Department of Conservation's restocking efforts about 30 years ago, aimed at stabilizing the population.

"Our mission is to protect the fish, forests, and wildlife of the state. Otters were a native species of the state that were in danger of totally disappearing," Francis Skalicky said.

They've now made a full-come back, meaning fishermen may have to be careful about where they put their fish.

"If you want to protect the fish that are on your stringer, either put them in a secure basket or don't put them in the water," Skalicky said.

Lake lovers say all animals add to what the Ozarks has to offer.

"It's so beautiful. You can see so much wildlife," Bianchi said.

Trapping otters is allowed either during season or with a special nuisance permit, if they’re damaging property. Lilley says, at this point, they don’t plan on doing that because having otters around is just part of life on the lake.