Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 14, 2008

SEDLEY- Moonpie and I spent the 6th through the 8th on the Blackwater below Franklin.

The water was clear, 67 degrees, high and fast. Trash was very bad this trip. I picked up two bags worth, two tires, a basketball and a fire extinguisher.

Most of the trash looked old, and was mostly washout from the swamps. I saw no other water quality issues, but I did notice the water dumping into the river from the cities wastewater treatment plant was unusually foul smelling for some reason.

The fishing on this trip was pretty good. I caught eight stripers casting and jigging, but all were less than 18 inches. I also caught six largemouth bass up to 2 pounds casting.

I think shad season is about over. I did catch one American Shad but that was it. The white perch are still in the river pretty good.

I caught a good many, but most were fairly small and all were caught jigging a Silver Buddy. I even caught one on a huge topwater lure, which was crazy!

Since we were in the vicinity, we ventured downriver to check on the eagles at Cherry Grove. It appears they only raised one baby this year. It was still in the nest, but it is old enough to soon be stepping out and exploring the surrounding tree limbs.

I sat and watched the ugly youngster for a while until the mother came back and then I figured it was time to go. I hear eagles like Moonpies.

We had another interesting critter encounter the next day. I was fishing along the shore when from the opposite side of the river come a terrible commotion.

It sounded like two wildcats going at it with all the screaming and such. So we hurriedly crossed the river to investigate. At first I could not find the source of the conflagration, but then a log up on the hill started falling into the river.

The screaming started again. I was glad Moonpie could not hear it (deaf as a post) but she could see the dirt falling, and her nose was working overtime.

Suddenly a head popped out of a hole on top of the hill and out jumped a mamma raccoon. She was covered with clay and was very agitated it seemed with what sounded like a bunch of babies or &uot;kits.&uot;

It was quite an interesting den, being perched on a bluff with most of the log hanging over the water. In and out she would go. I guess those babies were demanding a little more attention than the young mother could handle.

We were sitting there watching each other when Moonpie suggested we catch a fish and give it to her.

That way she could have a nice meal without having to leave the children for a long time. So off we went, and in short fashion, had a nice white perch.

After disabling the fish so it would not flop back in the water, we placed the fish at the doorway and backed off and took a short ride. When we returned our offering was gone and all was quiet at the house of raccoon.

Moonpie, beaming, said, &uot;That was really nice of us to feed that mamma coon, I guess we are like the fish fairies now.&uot;

I looked around and replied, &uot;I think I’ll just stay with being called the Riverkeeper, and you- well you go right ahead and be the fish fairy on the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.&uot;

JEFF TURNER is Riverkeeper for the Blackwater/Nottoway Riverkeeper Program (BNRP), an environmentally conscious organization that focuses on keeping our local waterways healthy. BNRP’s parent organization is The Waterkeeper Alliance. Contact information for Turner is listed on the program’s website, www.blackwaternottoway.com