Riverkeeper report: Monkey’s afoot on Blackwater

Published 9:35 am Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 17th through the 19th on the Blackwater above Burdette. The water was clear, 40 degrees and 4.26 on the USGS gauge at Burdette. Air temps ranged from 25 to 58 degrees.

As usual trash was bad around the bridge and terrible in the big blockage downriver from the pump station. I got what trash I could, but it is such a wide jam I could not even come close to getting it all.

Bowfinzilla is the largest blackfish that Jeff Turner has ever caught. It weighed in at 13.2 pounds and was 32 inches long. -- Jeff Turner | Tidewater News

Bowfinzilla is the largest blackfish that Jeff Turner has ever caught. It weighed in at 13.2 pounds and was 32 inches long. — Jeff Turner | Tidewater News

Since the Army Corps of Engineers is not going to do anything about this jam, I guess it is up to us to get it cleared. If anybody has the means and wants the job of clearing this jam, please contact me and lets talk what it will cost us.

I saw no water quality issues on the river this trip. As far as the fishing goes, I only cast for about an hour and caught nothing. However I talked to one of our avid fishing members Mr. Godley and he had done very well using a plastic worm. The only thing I caught was blackfish. I even got my dad to join me on the first day for some spirited bowfin action. He caught a big one that was 7.6 pounds.

However, on the second day, I caught bowfinzilla, a blackfish that weighed 13.2 pounds, 32 inches long and the largest blackfish I have ever caught. It took me like 15 minutes to land that thing. All in all I think we caught about 30 blackfish between those two days.

Right there where we caught most of the blackfish there was a huge bald eagle that hung around the whole time I was on the river. Don’t know if the eagle was savvy to the blackfish bonanza or what, but it was quite the coincidence it was there also. I mean it was a huge eagle too.

Had a bit of Moonpie excitement the second morning of the trip. It was 25 degrees that morning we were to leave and because it was so cold I was extending my time in the tent, waiting for the sun to warm things up a bit. I was kinda light snoozing when all of a sudden I hear all this commotion and Moonpie yellin’, “Git, git out of here you bad monkey, bad monkey.”

Now Moonpie has an issue with identifying critters and we have been through the monkey thing with a raccoon a few years back. So I was pretty sure a ‘coon was not in camp and also pretty sure neither was a monkey. “Okay, Moonpie,” I said, “REALLY, what’s going on out there?”

A stressed-out Moonpie replied, “Daddy, a baby monkey is trying to get into the trash and is terrorizing the camp and me.”

I had heard the cans in the trash bag tinkle that morning and just thought it was the wind or a mouse even though the bag was hanging from a tree limb. Well ‘bout the time I started to poke my head out of the tent, I heard something bound three times across the leaves, land on my duffel bag outside the tent, bounce off that and landed on the roof of my tent. Well, that got my attention and Moonpie was screaming, “Daddy the ninja monkey is a comin’ for yee.”

Well, about the time I was reaching for Hannah, my .44 pistol, I saw the unmistakable silhouette of what was attacking me. Not a ninja monkey, but indeed a ninja squirrel. I yelled and batted the roof of the tent and ninja squirrel jumped to the tree next to the tent and started scolding with a vengeance. With my morning snooze now irrevocably over, I crawled out of my warm sanctuary and confronted a still agitated Moonpie who was tenaciously starring up at the really mad squirrel.

“Squirrel, Moonpie, you know the same tree rat things we put in the stew last week, squirrel stew, not monkey stew.”

“Well,” Moonpie exclaimed, “I was just so flabbergasted that whatever it was had the gumption to invade…”

“Stop,” I said, “that squirrel is not the invader. Look up in that tree, see that nest? Well, that is where it lives. You have to understand how blessed we are to be allowed to be out here. We are the ones invading and that squirrel was just letting us know who really is the boss out here on the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway Rivers.”

Moonpie, Freezing Deer and I wish everybody a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year!

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