More trash than usual on the Blackwater

Published 8:21 am Friday, December 17, 2010


Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 9th through the 11th on the Blackwater below Franklin.

The water was clear, low and 42 degrees. Air temps ranged from 24 to 45 degrees. Trash on this trip was heavy. I do not know where it all came from, but most was picked up from the area between Franklin and the Route 189 bridge.

I picked up an entire Virginia Department of Transportation orange bag full, which is a big bag. Strangely most of it was old trash. Trash that has been in a ditch or swamp for a long time; I just don’t know what event flushed it to the river.

Well, that was bad, but I also saw a lot that was very good. I do not think I have ever seen so many ducks on the river. I think most of them were wood ducks. I would bust around a curve in the river, and groups of 20 or more would leap out of the water and fly 200 yards ahead of me and then land in the river and take off again when I got to them.

I bet I also saw 75 wild turkeys. One flock I saw crossing the river I’ll guess had 30 in it!

Then the second day, I was coming back up the river at sunset, and a flock took off with some of them flying right beside the boat and 10 feet up off the water. I felt like those people in that movie with the geese flying beside the ultra light plane. It was really cool.

In fact, it was really cold out there though the low temps were not that bad; the high the first day did not reach 40, and my friends, that makes for a cold day on the water.

In fact, it was so cold that day and night, that when Moonpie and I went to bed, and she kissed me goodnight, her nose stuck to my face. I had to sleep that whole night with a Moonpie stuck to my face.

I’ve had chewing gum and various candy stuck to my face when I awoke the next morning, and I even saw a friend once with a doughnut stuck to the side of his face, but I’ve never seen a Moonpie stuck to anybody’s face till now.

The fishing on this trip was not too great. With the quick water temp drop of 10 degrees in less than a week, I think it had the fish in shock. I caught a largemouth, a speckle, three blackfish and some small yellow perch.

I think the blackfish will be right soon, and evidently the yellow perch are getting ready as well. I did find a new way to catch gar and managed to catch two before I had to head back to camp the second night.

I could see the long skinny fish stacked up on the sonar in great schools. They were suspended in 16 to 18 feet of water over top of 28 feet of water. I was not catching any vertical jigging on the bottom, and I tried guessing when my lure was at 16 to 18 feet, and jigging, but could not hook up.

So I got the bright idea I would try to snag then from the side. So I let the lure hit the bottom, then started moving the boat with the electric motor enough to pick the lure up off the bottom. I started working the boat in a pattern back and forth across the river figurin’ the gar were pointed either upstream or downstream.

This pattern would allow my lure to run into the fish from the side. It worked! I could even feel my line when I would hit a fish, and my lure would then drag up the side of the fish and snag it.

I was using a large Silver Buddy I had modified with two large treble hooks. I only had time to catch two fish, both hooked in the tail, but it was great fun. It just goes to show an old dog can learn new tricks on the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.

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,