Riverkeeper held hostage

Published 9:31 pm Thursday, January 22, 2015

Riverkeeper Jeff Turner found this logjam on the Blackwater River, and attempted to break it up.

Riverkeeper Jeff Turner found this logjam on the Blackwater River, and attempted to break it up.

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 19th through the 21st on the Blackwater above Burdette. The water was COLD at 38 degrees, and according to the USGS gauge there 7.70 ft. Air temps ranged from 30 to 60 degrees. Pretty darn nice for January my friends!

Trash was heavy as always down at the logjam below Burdette. I’ll tell you about the log jam later. I saw no other water quality issues. The fishing at least for Blackfish (Bowfin) was great, it was the only fishing I could really do because I broke my electric motor at the logjam.

Did I tell you I would speak to you more about the logjam later? Anyway, yea, my dad came out with me on the second day and we caught about 30 Blackfish with the biggest going about 7 pounds. All-in-all over two days of fishing about 40 blackfish were caught. All were caught on a jigged blade bait. It was great fun and if you can catch a 60-degree day in January like we were blessed with, it is a really fun way to exercise your fishing equipment and test your angling skills, especially if you use ultra-light tackle like we do. Those Bowfin really put up a fight and if you hang one in the over 10-pound class, it will really give your arm a workout.

Oh yea, the log jam. This huge logjam downriver from the Gaston Pipeline has been blocking the river for sometime. USGS, VDGIF, DEQ nor USACE had any interest in removing it. So on this trip I was just going to pick up the trash embedded in the jam, as I had tried breaking it up before with no luck.

Upon getting to the jam, however, it looked like someone had cut some trees that were holding the jam together and the high water had opened one small place on the side of the jam.

So I decided I would take advantage of that and try to break it up. It’s dangerous work and rough on equipment as I found out the hard way. I had nearly cleared the entire jam when I snapped the electric motor shaft right in half. So that was the end of my logging. Hopefully, the river will stay open for a while. Hope so because I will not be doing that again. That kind of work is far too rough on our 42-year-old boat.

Okay, now for the headline story. On the last morning I awoke in the tent with the sound of Moonpie choking and gagging beside me.

“What’s goin’ on,” I shouted, “Are you choking on something?”

At that Moonpie rolled upside down with her legs straight up in the air, like she was deceased or something. Yeah, really!

Then ‘bout that time I smelled it, the unmistakable smell of a SKUNK! It was strong, like it had sprayed the tent strong. I peered out the front window and saw the striped purveyor of pungency scurrying around like daring us to come out.

“What are you going to do?” Moonpie asked.

“I ain’t gonna do nothin’,” I replied, “That thing might have rabies. YOU go out there and scare it away. You’re immune to bad stuff like that these days.”

“I AIN’T goin’ out there,” Moonpie exclaimed. “Stink that bad can stick to air and I ain’t about to jeopardize my girly fresh scent.”

“Oh, please,” I remarked, “You have never had a fresh scent in any of your lives.

“Anyway, we will wait it out,” I decreed.

Every once in awhile I would hear something and peek out a window, only to see just a glimmer of something moving in the bushes. I finally just buried myself in my sleeping bag and covered my head and waited. Finally after being held hostage in the tent for like an hour, the evil funkmaster waddled off and we were able to evacuate the campsite. It was not much fun as I was constantly looking all around for the return of Sir Stinks -A -Lot.

I know I reek after being on the river for three days, but I gotta say that this was certainly the stinkiest trip ever on either of the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.

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