Riverkeeper report: Trip on Blackwater challenges Riverkeeper

Published 9:59 am Friday, December 9, 2011

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 30th through the 2nd on the Blackwater below Franklin.

The water was clear, 50 degrees and fast. Air temps ranged from 32 to 60 degrees.

Trash was not too bad. I had expected a lot to be in the river from the rain washing out the Franklin storm water ditches, but the city must be doing a pretty good job keeping them clean. I only picked up about a half a bag.

The fishing on this trip was pretty bad again. I did catch four nice one-pound speckle, one yellow perch and one small largemouth. All were caught on the Silver Buddy. Oh and I hung about a 15-pound gar.

Again on this trip I tried every trick I know, but the fishing is still bad, at least for me.

I ran into my friends from the Department of Environmental Quality on this trip. It’s always so nice to see those guys and talk about the river. It is also nice to know they as I, are keeping a check on the river and watching the known problem areas. It’s a great double team effort at keeping the river healthy.

I had a couple of rough incidents on this trip that while uncomfortable, still made the trip interesting. The second morning I awoke to find the boat high and dry on shore. The river level dropped two foot during the night, the water being pulled out by the Albemarle Sound.

I wrestled and grunted, kicked and cussed, but I could not get the boat unstuck. Finally I got the old boat shotgun, levered it under a log and got the darn thing moving. After about an hour of levering the boat 4 inches at a time I finally got it back into the water.

I pulled a muscle in my neck straining so hard on that shotgun and still have a stiff neck today as of the 5th. That’s one tuff ole’ single shot boat gun.

The next incident really ‘bout done me in. At camp a huge dead pine tree is right in the middle of everything. Most of the limbs have fallen off, but there was this one three-foot limb that was hanging 50 feet up the dead tree.

Every little whisper of wind would start it swinging. I just could not sit there with the thought of that limb falling and bonking me on the head.

So, again, shotgun to the rescue. I loaded it up with a 3-inch magnum No. 3 buckshot load and positioned my chair on the slight downhill bank of the river so I could sit and shoot the limb. The plan being by sitting, the blast of the magnum load would not knock me down or mess up my shoulder worse than it already is.

So I got all positioned right and got Moonpie to stand behind the chair pushing forward so we would not go into the river. Okay, Moonpie, I said, hold on. “FIRE IN THE HOLE,” I yelled…BOOOM.

The next thing I saw was blue sky reeling backwards and then pine straw. The next thing I heard was a big splash followed by a whole buncha bad words. The recoil had knocked me and the chair over backwards and I had slid down the bank on my back to within a foot of the river.

Moonpie was not so fortunate and ended up in the river, which is the splash I heard. She was not happy with me at all!

The limb I shot did fall. However after clambering up the riverbank dragging a mad wet doggy, I discovered the limb was so rotten that it weighed like only as much as a loaf of bread. Most likely it would not have killed me if it had fell on my noggin’ and would have hurt far less than the blast of the gun did against my shoulder.

So the moral of this story is don’t sit in a chair and shoot leaning backwards on the bank of the river especially if your backup is as light and airy as Moonpie. It’s just another one of those very special lessons learned on the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.