Riverkeeper Report: A beautiful season to be on Nottoway River

Published 10:50 am Saturday, September 29, 2012

A brown snake rests on a log. -- JEFF TURNER/TIDEWATER NEWS

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent Sept. 20-22 on the Nottoway below Hercules.

The water was 70 degrees, low and nasty. Air temps ranged from 58 to 85.

Trash was unusually heavy for this section of the river. It could be coming from a new popular bank-fishing location just above the boat ramp at the old Delaware Park. The shore is trashed there pretty bad; some of that is most likely ending up in the river.

I also removed several abandoned limb lines. One had the remains of a dead gar that had got snagged on it and rotted swinging in the air when the water went down.

This was my first land-based patrol since spring and I was sooo ready for it. Though it was still right hot for me, the nights were just about perfect.

I was worried that the skeeters were going to kill us on this trip ‘cause it still was so warm. Sure enough, as soon as I got to base camp, the biggest bloodsucker I ever did see landed right on my knee.

How big was it you ask?

Well, it was so big that when I slapped it, guts from this king-size vampire bug went everywhere. In fact, I kept its liver and fried it up for supper that night!

But really, the bugs were actually not that bad, and I only got bit once.

The fishing on this trip was a mixed bag. I ran limb-lines for catfish, but only caught five the whole trip. The biggest was a 10-pound blue.

I caught seven largemouth — all small — on various lures from spinners to crank baits.

The bluegill fishing though was fantastic. I caught all I wanted easily on the fly rod and casting. On one casting run I had 17 bites in 10 casts! That was a lot of fun.

I could not believe how many snakes were around on this trip. In fact, right after the skeeter fiasco, I was tying up the boat to this dead tree stump. The next thing I know is this snake is materializing out of the dead stump wiggling and squirming its way out between the bark and the rotten wood.

It was a baby water snake about 10 inches long. I just stood there, staring as it noodled its way free and fell at Moonpie’s and my feet and quickly swam away.

Wow! Moonpie said kinda matter-of-fact; that was strange.

Yup, I replied, both of us still standing there in the water looking at each other. Is it ‘cause we are getting older and things just don’t scare us as bad anymore or what Moonpie pondered out loud.

I thought for a second and replied, “Well, I think it’s more like we’re both old and just can’t move quite as fast on these two old rivers we call the Nottoway and Blackwater.”

Right, Moonpie replied, laughing as she drifted away.

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, www.blackwaternottoway.com.