Riverkeeper report: Young eagle lands in cypress tree

Published 9:19 am Friday, November 18, 2011

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 7th through the 9th on the Blackwater below Franklin.

The water was 7.66 on the U.S. Geological Survey gauge at Burdette, 50 degrees, clear and fast. The dissolved oxygen readings I got at various locations were all above 7 ppm, which is very good. Air temps ranged from 44 to 65 degrees.

I saw no water quality issues on this trip. I picked up only a half of a bag of trash so that was nice for a change. The City of Franklin must be doing a pretty good job with their stormwater ditches.

With the dissolved oxygen at a great level, I thought the fishing was going to be really great. However it was not. I caught a six-pound blue cat on a tiny jig fishing for speckle and then only caught one speckle and a bream fishing that way. I managed to catch five largemouth and a jack, but they were small, and I had to work very hard to catch those in two days worth of fishing.

Freezing Deer came and fished for a day and did not even get a good hit. So I don’t know what’s going on.

One of the bass I caught even had eggs in it, which is really strange. I’m waiting to hear what my biologist friends have to say about that.

I saw a lot of ducks again and two really big bucks. One was way upriver behind Carson Whitley’s and the other was walking along the ASB International Paper pond dam. Both looked to be eight points at least with big racks.

This was a really nice trip as far as the weather goes and it is just so beautiful on the river right now. I would say the leaves and colors are peaking as I’m writing this report.

With the sun just right, I would take a break from casting and just float in the warm sun looking at the palate of all the good Lord’s splendor laid before me. People tell me you have to go to the mountains or wherever to see such natural beauty. Well it just ain’t so; it’s right here in our backyards.

I had a really cool thing happen on this trip. The measly mess of fish I had acquired needed either to be turned loose or cleaned. It was very late in the afternoon on day two and nearly dark.

I was sitting there looking at the fish with the live-well open trying to figure out what to do when I heard Moonpie gasp “look.”

I looked and flying upriver toward us was a really big bird. It landed in the cypress looming over us in the fast encroaching darkness from the swamps. It was a juvenile eagle most likely one of this year’s young from the nest downriver.

As it looked down at us cocking its head from side to side, softly it spoke to me from within and then immediately flew away. I looked at Moonpie, and Moonpie must have heard it also as she said, “well, there’s your answer.”

As I began releasing the fish, I thought just how fortunate I am to be able to come out here and experience these magical moments 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.