Riverkeeper Report: Fine dining on the Nottoway

Published 9:29 am Monday, October 7, 2013

Turner caught this 42 inch long gar. -- SUBMITTED | JEFF TURNER

Turner caught this 42 inch long gar. — SUBMITTED | JEFF TURNER

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 27th through the 29th on the Nottoway below Hercules. The water was low at 3.31 on the USGS gauge at Sebrell, clear, 72 degrees and had a dissolved oxygen level of 6.5, which was pretty good. The water was as clear as I have ever seen it on that part of the river. Air temps ranged from 55 degrees to 72 and it was windy.

I saw negligible trash and saw no water quality issues. There were air quality issues though, but not sure who was stinkin’ so bad. It reeked. I guess it could have been Moonpie.

Fishing was only fair; I believe the clear water was the culprit. The fish would hit, but not really take the lure or commit. I caught eight bass to 2 pounds. Most were caught on a Mepps Minnow. I also caught a huge gar that was 42 inches long. No luck again for catfish on the rod and reel at night. I caught a bowfin, a gar and a 6-inch long channel.

I was surprised ‘cause I tried a couple different things this time. I concocted what I was calling atomic catfish balls. I got a can of salmon, cut me some cloth and made little pouches for the oily pungent-smelling salmon. I closed them with little rubber bands and then just stuck my hook through the whole thing. My thoughts were all that fish oil would slowly seep out and draw the fish in and they would bite that or my regular cut bait on the other hook. Well, I had lots of hits but caught nothing on the atomic balls. I even tried shrimp. Still no fish and besides, the heck with that I’d just rather eat the shrimp. So none of that worked.

The second night I decided to just go for it and make the MOST toxic concoction ever made for catfish. So I combined my cut bait with the salmon juice, added in the oil from a can of smoked oysters I ate, then added the shrimp and for good measure threw in the juice from my can of Vienna sausages I had eaten that day.

Speaking of Vienna sausages, since when have they started making those loose in the can? When I opened the Libby’s can they were loose and I could pluck them out with no problem. Everybody that has any experience with these weenies knows you have to use your pocketknife to extract the weenie because they are packed in there so tight. I guess they have subtracted one from the can, just another case of consumer rip-off abuse I guess. Kinda like the 11.5 oz beer.

Anyway, back to the gourmet cat bait preparation. So yea, that was the ticket I thought. All that smelly yummy stuff was available to Mr. Whiskers all in one stop. NOPE! Again lots of hits but no fish at all that night. C’mon, salmon, smoked oysters, shrimp and Vienna sausages? That’s fine dining and some of the best fishin’ food one can take out there. I mean you can eat it or fish with and I guess the catfish just don’t understand that on 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. website for Turner, www.blackwaternottoway.com.