Riverkeeper report: Smoke on the water
Published 8:53 am Friday, June 28, 2013
Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 21st through the 23rd on the Nottoway below Hercules. The water was low and around 73 degrees and it RAINED! I did not see any water quality issues and trash was light. The fishing on this trip was great, at least for largemouth bass. I guess I caught 15 with one going 5.13. All were caught on topwater, but I can’t tell you what kind because it was a homemade lure. I also caught some nice bream. Once again I failed to catch any catfish on rod & reel at night! This trip had lots of cool things going on. Except for the rain, did I mention that it RAINED?
One cool thing was I watched six swallows chase and tag a feather (more like a piece of down) about the size of a cigarette pack all the way across the river. I guess they thought it was a big bug. It would get close to going in the water and a swallow would swoop down and grab it, then turn it loose again. They did this over and over till it finally went in the water. I have never seen swallows do such before.
I also met up with some cool guys that dive in the river. They made my day and gave me a couple of whale vertebrae and some sharks teeth. One of the vertebrae was as big around as a roll of paper towels! These fossils of course are not from this time period but are as old as 7 to 14 million years old. How cool is that? I was holding something older than Moonpie! That was really nice of these guys to let me have these since I have NEVER been able to find a single sharks tooth in my entire life. On the second day it RAINED, yes that’s right. So that afternoon I had to make fast and become a troll under Monroe Bridge once again.
There is a clubhouse on the river there and some young folks were having a party or attempting to when the torrential rains hit. Somehow they managed to keep a big fire lit and though it made for a smoky air quality issue on the water for a little while I figured that smoke helped with the skeeters. I was amazed at how these young folks did not let the rain dampen or kill their shindig. They kept on playing corn hole (I’m guessing) and walked around in the monsoon-like weather as if nothing was wrong. And I thought I was hard-core! It was really nice to see young folks respectfully enjoying the river and I never saw the first piece of trash or anything other than human bodies get tossed into the river. I thought about crashing the party, but figured a three-day stinky old guy and an even stinkier old dog might not be well received.
As it got dark that night their music was echoing across the water which because we were both listening to the same radio station made it sound surreal, almost disorienting. It was a really cool Deep Purple night, smoke on the water and a fire in the sky on one of the two rivers we call the Nottoway and Blackwater.
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.