Riverkeeper Report: Jammin’ on the Blackwater River

Published 9:27 am Friday, August 12, 2011

by Jeff Turner

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 4th through the 6th on the Blackwater around Franklin.

The water was normal and 83 degrees.

I kinda rolled two events into this patrol. I took a bunch of kids from Paul D. Camp Community College program Kids College on an Eco-Cruise the first day. Even though the wildlife did not cooperate too well, I think they had a decent two-hour tour.

At least they got to see a couple of really nice red-bellied water snakes, some turtles and few great blue herons.

I don’t think Teri Zurfluh, who heads up the college program, was all that crazy about lookin’ real close at the snakes!

After I did the Eco-Cruise, I went on with my usual three-day patrol.

Fishing was not hitting on much. I caught a big, two-pound shell cracker and a big speckle really quick. That was enough for catfish bait for the next two nights, so I did not fish anymore for pan fish.

I guess I should have stayed with the rebel cricket that I caught the pan fish on.

I then switched to bass fishing, and that was just really bad. Though I must admit I did not try very hard as it was so hot. I did not even try different lures; I just stayed with top water and only caught two little bass.

Cat fishing those two nights was not great either. I only caught two small cats the first night and none the next. So that’s pretty bad even, though the first night I really was not all that attentive.

At the City of Franklin’s Barrett’s Landing they were having their weekly We Be Jammin’ concert on the waterfront and had a great band playing. So I hung around there checking out all the non-indigenous wildlife while kind of cat fishing.

Plus it was kind of hard to fish with Moonpie shaggin’ all around the boat. That’s a great place to go by boat to have a great time. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ boat landing is right there in sight of the place, and with such a nice facility, it is really easy to put in and take out at night.

The music sounds great on the water and parking close is not a problem!

The second night we watched a groundhog at dusk lounge around where the barges were once unloaded at the mill. It would walk along the metal sheathing then just sprawl flat out and lay there looking at us.

After awhile it would get up and go about three foot and then sprawl out again. I’d never seen a groundhog out at night before.

Then later that night, we saw a fat coon go across the train trestle that leads into the mill.

Moonpie asked, “Is that who is working at the mill now?”

“Don’t know,” I replied, “might be the new Bull Gang!”

Well even though the fishin’ was poor we had a great trip and hopefully will soon get some more rain that will spark up the fish 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. Contact Turner at his website, www.blackwaternottoway.com.