Riverkeeper Report: That’s over my head

Published 12:08 pm Saturday, October 19, 2013

This is the snake that was over the heads of Spirit of Moonpie and Jeff Turner.-- SUBMITTED | JEFF TURNER

This is the snake that was over the heads of Spirit of Moonpie and Jeff Turner.– SUBMITTED | JEFF TURNER

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 15th through the 17th on the Nottoway below Hercules. The water was clear, 63 degrees and 5.25 on the Sebrell USGS gauge. Air temps ranged from 60 to 75 degrees. Skeeters were surprisingly non-existent especially after all that rain. I’m not complaining, folks.

I saw no water quality issues; in fact, all that fresh water had the river looking pretty good. Little bit of swamp scum, but it’s in the process of being flushed out. Another positive thing I saw was that VDGIF is fixing the erosion problem at the new boat ramp.

There was a terrible problem with water sheeting off the parking lot and washing out under the hi-rise pier they built. They were putting in some curbing and a drain, hopefully that will fix the problem. Unfortunately, there is no fixing the pier.

The fishing on this trip was pretty good. The fish mission was to catch as many Chain Pickerel as I could to freeze for the winter. I caught six, all on a 4-inch AC Shiner and all were found way back in the swamps. I also set limb lines for the first time this fall. I set 10 lines and caught only three fish the first night. The second night I caught four. That’s actually pretty slim. I was thinking I was going to mop up, but it was not to be. Only one cat was a blue, the rest were channel, except for two brown bullheads.

On the second day I took Bruce Barcott, a free-lance writer for National Geographic and other outdoor magazines out for a tour of the river. He is from Oregon, so these rivers are way different than what he sees at home. I think he was pretty impressed with the Nottoway. He is doing a story about the bioenergy industry for On Earth Magazine.

Well, it was a very nice first land-based trip of the year. Temps were nice bugs were light, however the warm temps are allowing some critters to umm, hang around a bit longer. I was fishing along on the second day having a great time when Moonpie said, “Excuse me, but I’d like to talk about something that’s way over my head.”

I could not believe what I was hearing. What I said was, “You’re actually admitting to not knowing about something, oh great miss “know-it-allness?” For the next 10 minutes I just laid it on thick to her and she just sat there looking really amused for some reason. Finally she said, “Are you done?

“If so, I will answer your question, No, I am certainly not admitting to any of those 10 minutes of rambling you just spewed. I was speaking literally, and I now direct your attention skyward to something that’s now over your head.”

I looked up and way up in the tree we were under and over my head was a big four-foot long brown water snake. He was just hanging out and had a big smile on his face.

“Yikes, Moonpie,” I bleated, “You should have told me that snake was up there when you first saw it. “I tried to,” she said, “however, you were too busy telling me all about what I know and don’t know.”

Anyway, it all worked out for the better that way ‘cause after all, the issue ended up being over your head and not mine out here on the two rivers we call the Nottoway and Blackwater.