Riverkeeper Report: No-Shoulders on the prowl

Published 11:32 am Saturday, September 14, 2013

Spirit of Moonpie, Freezing Deer and I spent Sept. 6-8 on the Blackwater below Franklin. The water was clear and 76 degrees. Air temps ranged from 58 to 82 degrees. ‘Twas a little cool both nights, but that helped knock the skeeters back. They were terrible during the day, something I do not usually run into out there.

The large skin of a Brown water snake was seen hanging from a tree along the Blackwater River. -- Jeff Turner | Tidewater News

The large skin of a Brown water snake was seen hanging from a tree along the Blackwater River. — Jeff Turner | Tidewater News

Trash was not too bad. We did, however, pull in a huge wad of tugboat rope tangled up in like 200 yards of nylon rope. I have no idea what that came from. Might have been from one of the floods. What I do know is that it was all Moonpie, FD and I could do to pull that jumbled mess into the boat. It was a nasty, stinky tangle.

On the plus side, a few crayfish were living in it and we used those to catch a catfish that night.

Speaking of which, we only caught two cats both nights, so that was not too great. Once again I tried deep, shallow, in-between, suspended and on the bottom. Don’t know what else to do. It’s so weird ‘cause I know when I start limb-lining this fall I’ll catch all the catfish I could want.

I did catch right many bass but they were mostly 10-inch fish. Three were decent with one going nearly 3 pounds. All were caught on topwater. The bream were really biting, though, and I could have caught a boatful on the fly rod. So I did not have any trouble catching a few for bait for the cat fishing. Though I wonder about my choice of using cut bait since we were nearly skunked.

It was really nice getting Freezing Deer out on the river again. It had been a long time since she was out there with me. She does not like the cold weather patrols I do and she can’t fish long anymore without shoulder problems. Also her back does not like boat seats. However, a new lounge chair we bought from ACE Hardware was the ticket and she read on her Kindle and enjoyed the trip immensely, or at least that’s what she claimed.

One thing she did not like seeing was the water moccasins that were on the move. We saw four and that is a lot to see in one patrol. Every year about this time I start seeing them. Not sure what is up with that. Might just be they are sensing the cold weather coming and are looking around for a suitable place to lay up for the winter.

Just to give you an idea of the ratio of water snakes to moccasins I see: since 1984, I have seen only 86 out of the hundreds upon hundreds of regular water snakes.

We also saw a strange snake thing this trip. Up in a cypress (see photo) about 20 ft off the water, we saw a really large snakeskin dangling from a hole. It looks to be a large Brown water snake, though I can’t imaging how it got up there. They are good climbers, but I don’t know about climbing straight up a tree.

All I got to say is I hope one never falls that far into my boat when I’m on either of the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.

JEFF TURNER is the Blackwater/Nottoway Riverkeeper. He can be reached at blknotkpr@earthlink.net