Maine ice angler surprised when he catches an otter.

Bruce Hodgdon otter oneBruce Hodgdon of Dennysville is an avid and experienced hunter, trapper, and angler. He’s my cousin Sandra’s son, and this past winter he wrote my Dad with the following fascinating story. Here it is, in Bruce’s own words.

“I was ice fishing on Long Lake in St. Agathe, no action all morning, bitter cold, and was cooking my lunch on the fire when a flag went up. I decided to let it stay up because I was cold and hungry and didn’t want my cheeseburger to go cold.

“After finishing the burger I went to tend the flag. I was shocked to find all the line out, about 175 to 200 feet. The tip-up bait had been set about 3 feet under the ice. I was excited!

“I pulled on the line and my excitement grew. Something felt extremely heavy on the other end. Imagine my shock when what I pulled up through the ice was an otter!

“By the time I got him to the hole he had drowned, running out of air while fighting the line. How he never broke the line I don’t know.

“Not wanting trouble with the law, I called a warden I know back home to see if I could keep it. It was a first for him and since I have a trapper’s license, he allowed me to keep it. I gave it to a boy starting out trapping who is friendly with my daughter.

“I didn’t think until later it would have made an interesting mount with ice fishing tip-up and all.”

Another Otter

Amazingly, this isn’t Bruce’s only otter caught while ice fishing. Here’s the rest of his story.

“As odd and rare as that catch is, it’s not the first time I’ve seen it happen. I took kids fishing and winter camping on Lobster Lake about 25 years ago, with Rob Dumont. A tip-up flag went up by Rob and I and he tended it very quickly because he was standing right next to it.

“Before he even battled his catch, which was an otter, it swam up the hole to get out. I’ll never forget Rob’s scream! Once on the ice, it broke the line and ran for the woods.

“I may be the only man who has witnessed such an event twice!”


Bruce is probably right about that! Along with photos of the otter, he sent one of a huge salmon he caught the previous day, open water fishing on a river near his home. This guy can fish!

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.