Riverkeeper Report: An unforgettable day on the river

Published 11:58 am Saturday, October 27, 2012

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 11th through the 13th on the Blackwater River below the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries ramp on Route 603.

The water was clear, 60 degrees and 5.85 feet on the U.S. Geological Survey gauge at Burdette. That is ‘bout as perfect a condition for fishing on that part of the river.

That being said, the fishing was indeed very good. I caught 11 bass up to 2 pounds, a nice speckle and all the big bream I wanted. Bass were caught on an AC Shiner and a really small deep diving crank bait that I was catching the bream on. I don’t even know what it is. I think the lure came from Bass Pro Shops though.

I saw no real water quality issues as far as pollution goes, however the trash on that part of the river was terrible. Always is. Worm containers, Colt 45 and Bud Light cans by the bagful.

Of all the places I patrol on both rivers, this location is the worse by far. The litter primarily comes from the people fishing on shore along the road at Burdette and a couple of locations by the pump house.

I have talked to some people fishing there and even given away some fish in hopes of getting people to take their trash with them. It just seems to do no good. So I guess I’m just going to have to go another route, which might result in no one being able to fish there ever again. That’s a shame.

I wanted to mention in this article how happy I was to see the “Thunder On The River” demonstration done by the Urquhart Gillette Camp 1471 Sons of Confederate Veterans at the Franklin Fall Festival.

I ran the Riverkeeper pontoon boat in conjunction with two other pontoon boats back and forth to Crumpler’s Bluff below Franklin. There a battle between federal gunboats and local militia took place in 1862.

I have for years always tried to imagine what three huge gunboats — one 175 feet long — would look and sound like on the river. It must have been amazing and horrendous at the same time. After all, it was war.

But on the day Camp 1471 did a reenactment on the bluff firing a small cannon and muskets, and hooting and hollering, I was for a few seconds a time traveler.

The 76 people I took to the bluff that day learned a nearly forgotten piece of local history that should never be forgotten. It was a very special day for me to be able to witness something that happened 150 years ago on the river.

I will forever cherish that look back into the past at a small piece of the magnificent and bountiful history shared by 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.