Riverkeeper Report: Building base camp, rescuing frisky turtles

Published 11:53 am Friday, December 7, 2012

Riverkeeper Jeff Turner recently rescued these turtles on the Blackwater River. -- Jeff Turner | Tidewater News

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent Nov. 25 through Nov. 27 on the Blackwater below the Steel Bridge.

The water was clear at five feet on the U.S. Geological Survey gauge. Air temps ranged from 33 to 60 degrees. But let me tell ya, that first day with the wind blowing was a cold day!

Trash was actually not too bad, for that part of the river, but then I was there on Nov. 23, so it had been cleaned up then by me.

The fishing on this trip was fair, if you like catching bowfin. I caught about 10 the one day that I really fished. All were caught on the blade-bait jigged vertically.

I caught one nice largemouth and one speckle also on that same lure. I talked to a fellow who caught 30 bass on Nov. 25. I saw him catch several so I don’t think he was pullin’ my leg. He told me he was catching them on a plastic worm.

I spent my whole first day of this trip developing a new base camp. Whew, that was a lot of work. It is a pretty little place with a beaver pond on one side and the river on the other. That also makes it a cold place.

It will really be cold this winter when the pond freezes and the river water gets in the 30s. I’ll be kinda like a sandwich in a cooler surrounded by ice.

Nothing really spectacular happened on this trip. I saved two turtles that were ummm, let’s say having some social issues. Poor things were having to take turns grabbing a breath of air as they were about drowning each other.

I dipped them up in the landing net, and they managed to separate. It looked pretty painful, and I don’t know how they survived that 33-degree first night on the surface of the river. I guess the water temperature was warm enough to keep them from dying.

If you can’t figure out what I’m talking about, I guess you might look at the picture and get the idea. I don’t want to go into any great detail here as this is a family-oriented publication!

I let them both go on the sunny side of the river on a nice little beach. They both looked at me blinking for a few seconds like they were saying thank-you then went their separate ways.

The only other real notable occurrence was the first night; I did get the coyote wakeup serenade at about 2 a.m. They were on my side of the river this time, which was a little disconcerting.

It sounded like a pretty good size pack, and they were really doing the spooky cry/screaming/howling thing, enough so that I ended up with Moonpie in the sleeping bag with me.

They never sounded like they were any closer than about a mile away so I was really not too worried about a visit. That’s never happened yet, but I guess eventually it will.

I guess that’s why they are called a nuisance species and I’ll just have to deal with it.

I just hope somebody don’t get the bright idea of re-introducing cougars, panthers or wolves back into the area. I love wildlife, and do a lot of work to promote and protect wildlife. I just don’t want to end up being somewhere on the bottom of the food chain 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.