Riverkeeper Report: Good time to go fishing for man or bird

Published 4:36 pm Monday, April 18, 2011

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 3rd and 4th, then the 6th through the 8th on the Nottoway below The Bronco Club.

A face appears on this tree at the riverkeeper’s campsite. -- Jeff Turner | Tidewater News

The water was a little high at 7.80 on the U.S. Geological Survey gauge at Sebrell and 56 degrees. Air temps ranged from a perfect 41 degrees at night to a really hot 80 during the day Thursday.

I saw no water quality issues other than the water being a little muddied up from the armada of boats on the river.

The fishing was very good depending on what you were fishing for. White perch seemed slow for most people though I did see a few that done well. Lots of shad were being caught upriver I was told.

I caught a few white perch casting to shore with a Mepps minnow. I caught three stripers, but could not keep them because they were under the 18-inch limit.

That size limit makes no sense. This is another case of the powers that be in Richmond making decisions that are plain wrong. So they will let us keep the over 18-inch fish, the large females that carry the most eggs and can propagate the species better instead of the smaller fish that have not matured? That’s just backwards.

So I had to throw back the better tasting smaller fish.

The real blast was the largemouth bite. I caught I guess a dozen or so. Two were right at 4 pounds. Some were caught on the Silver Buddy jigging in 20 feet of water, and some were caught on an A.C. Shiner casting to shore.

I also caught some bream while casting for white perch on shore. I got a chance to see a couple pair of ospreys fishing also. One had a fish in its talons and took off from its tree perch when I was headed downriver.

It was flying right over the river, and I was able to race up right under it. I could see it turning its head looking down at me and giving me the stink eye, like I was trying to take the fish away. It finally veered off to the left and landed in another tree.

Moonpie said, “that would have been funny if it had let go of that fish and bombed you right in the head.”

Yea, I replied but what would have been really funny was if it had missed me and whacked you right out of the boat! I really could not tell what kind of fish it was, but it was big enough to take out a Moonpie I’m sure.

I was pretty proud I had sense enough to leave camp and come home Monday night to ride that storm out. It must have been really bad out there on the river.

When I returned Wednesday morning, my camp looked like a herd of bears had gone through it. My tent from the front looked like it had taken a direct hit from a charging bear straight into the door.

Tent polls and pegs were bent in a way I just could not believe. That must have been some terrible wind.

What I really could not believe though was that there was less that a teaspoon of water inside the tent, so that was good. One of the main reasons I left was that there is this dead pine tree at the site that is about 3 feet in diameter. It’s essentially a 50-foot pole, and at the base, there is only like 12 inches in diameter of wood left.

I keep expecting it to fall, but it has not since being in that shape for like five years. Anyway, the way it sways, I’m just terrified it’s going to fall on me. Knowing we were going to have 50 mph winds in that storm is what kept me from staying there that night.

When we returned Wednesday, that first night back at camp after the storm, it was calm. Moonpie and I lit the campfire and kicked back to relax. I was going on about the tree and what a pain it is and how I wish it were gone and that I hated how it was casting such a deadly shadow over our beloved campsite.

I was rambling on and turned to Moonpie because I noticed she was not adding in her usual two cents worth. When I turned to look at her, she was looking past me, eyes wide open and white as a ghost, (well whiter than a normal spirit) and shaking uncontrollably.

“LLLoook behind you,” she said, and when I did I could not believe what I saw. That same tree was starring at us with this ghoulish face that made the hair stand up on the back on my neck.

Now we tell a lot of wild tales here in the Riverkeeper report, but this really happened (see picture) and this face on this tree has never been there before. My friends, this ain’t photo shop; it’s the real deal and is just another example of the wild things Moonpie and I see 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. Contact Turner at his website, www.blackwaternottoway.com.