Lure change the ticket to reeling in fish

Published 7:57 am Friday, December 3, 2010

by Jeff Turner

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 27th through the 29th on the Nottoway below Courtland.

The water was clear, 50 degrees and 4.3 foot on the U.S. Geological Survey gauge. Air temps ranged from a very cold 20 degrees to 60.

Trash was light, which again surprised me, as I had not been on that part of the river in at least a year. I picked up about a half a bag.

The fishing was pretty good. I started off catching largemouth on a crank bait and caught three in about 20 minutes. By then though I was at the deep curve right behind the church in Courtland, and I wanted to see if I could catch a blackfish.

So I started jigging and caught a couple of those, but noticed I was having a lot of small hits and hanging fish for just a second, then they would get off. So I changed from a half-ounce Silver Buddy to a quarter-ounce, and that was the ticket.

I started catching everything. I caught a bunch of really big redeyes, two shell crackers, including one that weighed 2 pounds, hung a nice jack and caught several speckle.

Catching the redeyes was kinda aggravating because I would get hung up sometimes three or four times in five minutes. But that was where the fish were, and I was just glad I had a good lure retriever with me, and no I don’t mean Moonpie.

A lure retriever is a weight with little chains attached to it on a heavy line that you attach to your hung-up line. You attach the device and drop it down to your snag and hopefully get your lure back.

I did not loose a single lure the whole trip. It is a great investment since it pays for itself after retrieving only three lures. It’s also pretty easy to make one out of just fishing weights.

On the last day, we were breaking camp when the sound of deerhounds on the chase came singing through the woods. Suddenly a doe jumped out of the woods and onto the sandbar we were camped.

The deer seemed in no big hurry, and only 30 feet away moved by a frozen-in-place Moonpie and myself. It sauntered down the sandbar into the water and swam to the small island right across the river, still only 30 yards from us.

It finally found a small place to get out of the water, but realized there was no exit from there as that side of the island — part of the river known as the Devil’s Elbow — is just an impenetrable wall of vines. The doe looked around, and I guess feeling the warm sun after that cold swim, decided to take a break since the dogs were still a long way off, and with that, plopped down.

I was still sitting there perfectly still freaking out that the deer was looking right at us, but was not the least bit scared. It was a great moment, the deer, and myself, basking in the warm early morning sun — such a rare peaceful wildlife moment. And then it was gone.

Moonpie jumped up and wanted to go see the deer closer I guess. Well the deer freaked out, jumped up, and with nowhere to go except the water again, did a standing 6-foot vertical leap right into all those vines. Moonpie was hollerin’ “hey pretty deer where ya going?”

That just freaked the deer out worse — the talking thing I guess — and it got all tangled up in those vines and then fell backwards into the river. Terrified for sure now, its eyes big as saucers, the deer then tore off in another direction right into a wall of logs that was flood debris.

She fell and stumbled her way through that, hit the water on the other side of the island, quickly swam the 30-foot stream, clambered up the bank and was gone. I don’t know how she did not break a leg or her neck, but it was moving like nothing was wrong with her.

I was still sitting there on my milk crate, mouth open at what had just taken place. Moonpie came back to where I was sitting and said, “What in the world was all that about? How rude! All I was doing was just tryin’ to make and meet some new friends while we’re out here on the two rivers we call the Nottoway and Blackwater.”