Riverkeeper Report: Stripers pole dancing

Published 10:57 am Saturday, January 25, 2014

A pile of trash from the Franklin Canal. -- JEFF TURNER | TIDEWATER NEWS

A pile of trash from the Franklin Canal. — JEFF TURNER | TIDEWATER NEWS

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 18th through the 20th on the Blackwater below Franklin. The water was 40 degrees, dingy, very fast and 8.25 on the USGS gage, which is pretty high or 1.55 on the gauge at Franklin.

Air temps ranged from 25 to 50 degrees and it was windy. A pretty darn cold trip I must say, especially that first day when it did not get above 40 degrees. With all that water in the river I knew it was going to be trashy out there and it certainly was. I picked up two large bagfuls, the majority of it originating from the city of Franklin stormwater canal.

So I spent a lot of time doing that, but was rewarded with some great fishing for my clean-up efforts. Yes, the stripers are in the river and three danced on my fishing pole! Two were 18 inches and change and one was not. You can only keep two per day and they must be 18 to keep, and yes, Dean, I checked when I got home and the pics I took showed the two I kept being legal!

I also caught a couple of largemouth, some yellow perch and some speckles. All were caught on a ¼ oz blade bait vertically jigged in about 12 ft of water. They were yummy too!

Besides the abundance of fish, I also saw an abundance of wildlife on this trip. Two different sets of otters checked us out. They were really curious about what we were doing, and I think they thought Moonpie was one of them cause they would see her and just go crazy whistling. We saw a beaver that day too, but it was camera shy as well. We also saw a bald eagle close to the Pretlow farm and a huge hawk in a tree in that same area. I tried getting pictures of all of these, but was having one of those days where I can’t find the subject in the viewfinder dilemmas.

That’s always a real problem, trying to aim the camera using the flip-out screen. I wonder do they make cameras with a bigger field of vision or something? That would be nice. I took my game camera also with me on this trip. That is like a secret spy automatic camera you set up to catch wildlife pics when you’re not there, or in this case I wanted to see if anything visits me at night when I’m asleep. I’m happy to report that nothing visited at night those two nights.

I was wondering if my little friend Snickers would show up on the camera, but he did not. Snickers is a woods rat/mouse I met several years ago at this camp. It fell out of the tree by my fire pit and almost got shot cause it startled me pretty bad. Since then he has gotten a lot bigger, still just as skittery though. This trip I could see him running back and forth a few feet away from me while I was sitting by the fire at night. I would see him out the corner of my eye when he would stop and just look at me like he wanted to come sit by the fire. However, when I would turn my head to look at him he would dart off and hide. I even tried giving him some salted in the shell peanuts, but that was a no-go either.

The peanuts were still lying there when I left the last day. Anyway, I was kinda thinking I might capture him on the game camera at least so I cold get a better look at him.

But nope, it was not to be, and I guess I’m really okay with not having a bunch of critters cavorting around my tent at night on the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.