I'll give you my 2 cents.
In old beaver ponds I only set up main travel ways. That would be in the main stream channel. Otter are not that thick around here and might only come by once a month. Lots of times they just pass through following the main stream channel.
I don't set up old lodges any more. It just does not work for me due to too many rats. On a stream with plenty of old lodges the otter may enter only one in 10 it encounters. Many times I see where they pass by.
Best set I have found in these areas is in the channel or channels below the old dam. I set the top of the trap several inches under water because eventually ice will form on the trap if it is exposed. Also it allows for water dropping in the fall.
To avoid rats, catch them out or go far enough below the old pond so they don't travel there so much.
I always use a dive pole over the trap. I also add a brushy pole to prevent otter from going over the pole. If they can plant their back feet they will go over rather than through the trap, especially if the water is only a few inches deep.
They will also go around in some cases. I have seen tracks in the snow where they have gone over or around the traps. Then you have to wait 3 weeks for them to come back by there. They seem to not want to stick their face into the trigger.
In these main channels otter seem to be just passing by and they do that on the water surface. Trapping in the middle of an open pond or under ice in an open pond would be a different issue. Southern conditions might be different too.
Here is a good trick to stabilize body grips in channels. Find two dead beaver sticks just a little bigger than your spring openings. Drive them the right distance apart into the mud. With the safety hooks on, position the conibear at the right height with the sticks in the spring gap. When you compress the springs to set the trigger, the sides of the spring will grip the sticks and hold the conibear firmly in place. A little practice is needed to get the right size sticks. When the trap springs it falls to the bottom leaving the channel free.