Riverkeeper report: Clear sailing on upper Blackwater

Published 9:55 am Friday, May 15, 2015

Spirit of Moonpie reportedly came up with this arrangement using trash found in the Upper Blackwater River. -- SUBMITTED | JEFF TURNER

Spirit of Moonpie reportedly came up with this arrangement using trash found in the Upper Blackwater River. — SUBMITTED | JEFF TURNER

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 5th through the 7th on the Blackwater above Joyner’s Bridge. The water was 5.50 on the USGS gauge in Burdette, 63 degrees and fast. Air temps ranged from 58 to 80 degrees. Eighty degrees is a little warm for me to be still staying on shore, but I just hate trading land camping and campfires for the pontoon boat camping experience. So I like to stay on shore as long as I can. The unbearable heat of summer will be here soon enough, and there will be plenty of time for those 80-degree steaming mosquito-infested nights on the big boat.

The fishing on this trip was a mixed bag, but not bad. I caught a few red throats, not big but did catch some big bream using a baby Snagless Sally and a jointed Rapala. I also caught about eight bass on the jointed Ralala and tiny floating Rapala. Some of the bass I caught are spawning or getting ready as they were way back in the woods/swamps next to shore in like a foot of water. I could see some of them chasing pestering egg stealing fish away and that is how I caught them. None of the bass were even 2-pound size.

The trash on this trip was the worst I have ever seen on this part of the river, but there is a reason for that. Somebody has gone and done a fantastic job of clearing log jams up that way. In fact on the first day I made it from Joyner’s Bridge landing to Franklin and the next day from the landing all the way to Burdette. So that was a lot of river to clean up. I sure would like to thank whomever it was that did all that river clearing, that was a heck of a job.

We also set a new record for plastic bobbers collected in a three-day patrol — 47 — not cork floats mind you, but plastic bobbers. We keep those and over the years have collected quite a large number, which we use at Riverkeeper functions to give away prizes to folks that guess closest to the number of bobbers I have in a hamper. That number will be in the Riverkeeper version of this story on our website at www.blackwaternottoway.com in the picture gallery.

As usual we found some weird stuff out there amongst all that trash including a Halloween jack-o-lantern thingy. Anyhow, once I got it in the boat, Moonpie made me clean it up as she said she was going to re-purpose it. I knew better than to ask questions and just went on about my way. It was not long before I heard the sound of construction noises like cutting, fabricating and duct taping.

Moonpie said, “Nope, don’t turn around yet till I’m finished, I want to surprise you.”

“I don’t doubt for one minute I’ll be surprised,” I shot back, “That’s pretty much a given comin’ from you.”

After about 10 minutes of worrying what was going on in the back of the boat Moonpie said, “Okay, you can look now.”

When I turned around I could not believe it, Moonpie had made the punkin’ thingy into a Halloween suite.

“It’s MAY,” I exclaimed, “Not Halloween in October!”

“I know,” Moonpie said, “but I figured this can be like a celebration of Cinco de Mayo de Calabazas and we can have pumpkin beer!”

“YIKES and YUK,” I exclaimed, “You’re the most screwed-up puppy EVER out here 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.