Riverkeeper report: Summertime blues

Published 4:59 pm Thursday, August 20, 2015

Flowers? No, it’s a fungus growing on this cypress tree that so closely resembles small, white flowers. -- SUBMITTED | Jeff Turner

Flowers? No, it’s a fungus growing on this cypress tree that so closely resembles small, white flowers. — SUBMITTED | Jeff Turner

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 12th through the 14th on the Nottoway below Hercules. The water was little high, fast and 78 degrees. Air temps ranged from 62 to 88 degrees. Trash was non-existent until Thursday when there was a fishing tournament, then I started picking up some trash.

The fishing on this trip was pretty good. I caught a 23-pound blue cat the first night on my experimental jug rig. The big catfish snatched that gallon jug all the way underwater and it takes a lot of power to accomplish such! That was the only cat I caught, but it was fun. So you can catch nice blues in the dead of summer on the river, just maybe not a lot of them. I did not fish all that much for other species except bream for bait. They were hitting pretty well.

I saw a bald eagle at the Bronco Club, so that was pretty fun to watch and also saw a couple of ospreys.

Now for some bad news. Waay up the river in a branch of the Nottoway, in Stony Creek, two farms have been caught dumping what is called grain slurry into the swamps that feed Stony Creek. One report has it that tens of thousands of gallons washed into the creek. That stuff has a high biological oxygen demand, meaning it uses up dissolved oxygen in the water, which then kills the aquatic critters in the creek. There have been no fish kill reports in the creek, however I did hear of a fish kill near Route 40 in Sussex County, but that kill could not have been related to the Stony Creek spills. You will have to do your own research on what “grain slurry” is as I cannot get a great definition on that term. I have never heard the term used before.

Now, for a good story. A friend of mine who has been doing a lot of research on cypress trees discovered that what I had always thought was some kind of cypress blooms on the trees, is actually a fungus, like tiny mushrooms. If you look at the picture attached with this article, you have to admit it looks like tiny flowers. These fall off eventually and I have seen the river covered in them. I just never knew what they were, and so it goes with the continued education Moonpie and the Riverkeeper receives when we’uns is 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.