Riverkeeper report: Springtime means snake time in Va.

Published 10:03 am Friday, April 5, 2013

Riverkeeper Jeff Turner encountered this water moccasin on the Blackwater River despite the cold temperatures. -- Submitted | Jeff Turner

Riverkeeper Jeff Turner encountered this water moccasin on the Blackwater River despite the cold temperatures. — Submitted | Jeff Turner

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 27th through the 29th on the Blackwater below Franklin. The water temperature was 43 degrees and fast. Air temps ranged from 29 degrees to 52 supposedly. It felt a lot colder to me!

Trash on this part of the river continues to be bad. I picked up two bags and again a bunch of toys including another kiddy ride thing. I still cannot figure out why the increase in the load coming out of the Franklin storm water ditch. I’m wondering if people that live where the ditch runs close to their house are just using it as a dump? That really does not make sense though because they have trash pick-up in the city.

I ventured downriver to the Cherry Grove eagle site to check on that nesting pair.

At first I was getting worried cause I saw no sign of anything going on. So Moonpie and I ate lunch and waited and just as we were about to leave one of the parents poked its head up from the huge nest there. So we were glad to see they were home. I can’t wait to get the report from William & Mary when they do the flyover and can tell me how many chicks are in there and at the Nottoway nest.

Well, I don’t know why as cold as it was — but the snakes are out.

The water moccasin in the picture was so cold that only by poking at it a few times was I able to get it to strike that cool pose. It could hardly swim.

Also on the last day, when we were packing up to leave, a large water snake lay just a few feet from the boat in two inches of water and just watched me load the boat. I could not get it to even move. It was so cold it just let me touch it all over with a rod tip. I don’t understand why it would be in the water with the water that cold. The water temperature was about the same as the air that morning, but still I was surprised to see it in the water.

I got to fish a little bit in between picking up all that trash, but did not have much luck. Water temps had dropped and I think that really put a damper on the shad bite. I did not catch a single one.

I saw a N.C. fisheries friend of mine and his friend catch nearly 20 on grub twister tail lures. I changed to those lures and even fished in that same spot but it did not yield a single shad for me. I did catch one striped bass, but it was just less than 18 inches, and I had to throw it back. I guess I’m just a crappie shad fisherman 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.