Riverkeeper report: Heavy mast, harsh winter?

Published 11:57 am Saturday, October 18, 2014

Jeff encountered a heavy mast crop on the river. -- SUBMITTED

Jeff encountered a heavy mast crop on the river. — SUBMITTED

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 12th through the 14th on the Blackwater below Franklin. Right off the bat we had an interesting occurrence on this trip. I had not gone a mile out of the yard when a bald eagle flew up from beside the road. The strange thing was that when it took off it started flying down the road right in front of us and kept on going like that for like a 1/8 of a mile.

Moonpie and I were freakin out and Moonpie said the eagle was showing us the way and that it was a sign from the River Spirits that we were going to have a good trip. We had to revert back to the pontoon boat one last time because of the weather. It drizzled most of the first day but it was not all that bad really. Air temps for the trip ranged from 57 to 80 degrees. The water was clear and 67 degrees. Trash was pretty weird on this trip. It started off with us not seeing much, but then little by little the trash just started manifesting. Some of it big trash like a 1 ft square Styrofoam block, a 5 gallon bucket, a Rubbermaid tote and even a trash can which I put to good use.

The trashcan I believe came from Barrettes Landing. I still cannot figure how that stuff is getting into the Franklin ditches. Somewhere upditch somebody or a group of somebody’s is using that ditch as a dump. It is high time the city finds the source. The fishing on this trip was just okay, except for the bream. I caught a lot of those on small spinners. Bass fishing was so so and really I did not fish that long for them. I caught 5 with the biggest going 2 ½ pounds caught on topwater.

Once again we had no luck fishing for catfish from the boat. When we turned in the second night at 12 midnight I left one rod baited just to see what would happen. At 8 am the next morning I was awakened by the rod bell ringing and Moonpie having a conniption. Low and behold we had caught a catfish after 8 hours of waiting. Moonpie said” look dude, if that’s the way it’s going to be, lets not sit up all night long anymore waiting on these sorry catfish. Heck, just bait up at 9 and go to bed !” That might not be a bad idea actually. So I have noticed this year on the river the mast crop is horrendous. Mast is the fruit of the forest and it is as heavy as I have seen it in years.

The acorn trees, beach, pecan and hickory trees are loaded up. Even the bulaces or wild grapes were full as well and I have never seen the persimmon trees as full as they are right now. Soon as we get a frost I’ll chow down on those! So according to the old timers, when the bounty of the forest is this heavy it means we are in for a hard winter. That jives with what the Farmers Almanac is saying also. So I guess I should be thankful Moonpie and I got one more warm pontoon trip in cause it sounds like we are going to freeze our tails off this winter on the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.

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