A beautiful season to be on Nottoway River

Published 9:01 am Friday, November 12, 2010

Riverkeeper Jeff Turner caught this 25-pound blue catfish a few days ago on the Nottoway River.

by Jeff Turner

Sprit of Moonpie and I spent the 7th through the 9th on the Nottoway below the Route 671 Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries ramp.

The water was clear, fast, 52 degrees and low the first two days. The wind had all the water blown out of the river, but it came back the third day and the U.S. Geological Survey gauge at Sebrell read 5.10.

It was beautiful on the river this trip. The leaves are in full colors, and I thanked God for allowing me to be out there to once again see the river in all its splendor.

Trash was non-existent except for around a pier at Checkerboard corner. I picked up several bottles and beer cans there, but then that’s nothing new at that location.

The fishing was just amazing. I caught a bunch of largemouth up to 2 ½ pounds on the Mepps Minnow and Cordell Shad.

The real hoot however was the catfish bonanza. I set nine floating limb lines the first night and caught eight fish. The second night was almost as good, but here is the real hoot-n-nanny. My four big fish were 11.7 pounds, two over 22 and one that was 25 pounds and 39 inches long. We’re talking about blue catfish, and they are here to stay and getting big fast.

It did not seem to matter what was on the hook either. I used bass belly, bass heads, bream heads, bream and it just did not matter. These fish were so large; I released the big three, as I just did not need that much fish.

It was a good thing I had my lines tied to strong limbs. Remember if using limb lines, they have to be tagged with your information and checked daily. If they are not being checked daily, they must be removed.

The blue cat fishery is really going to be fun in the rivers, but other species I fear will suffer. These fish can eat big prey and they are voracious eaters. I’m already seeing a decline in numbers of yellow cats and chain pickerel in the rivers. Speckel will most likely suffer too eventually.

Now I need your help. Both nights after going to bed, Moonpie and I heard what sounded like a pack of hyenas over on the Newsoms’ side of the river, about where the old Indian village used to be. When it started the first night, I was really startled, plus I had Moonpie trying to act like a fur hat as she was freaking out and climbing all on top of my head.

I have heard many things in the woods over the past 30 years, but not this screaming/laughing thing that has multiple participants. I don’t know if it is the Indians or what.

I know what barred owls sound like screaming, and it was not that. Coyotes maybe? I just do not know.

All I know is it is wild sounding and will make the hair or Moonpie stand up on the back of your neck. So if you have any idea what this might be, please e-me or call me so we can solve another mystery on the two rivers we call the Nottoway and Blackwater.

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