Riverkeeper report: Bloodless on the Blackwater

Published 12:44 pm Saturday, September 17, 2016

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent Sept. 12-14 on the lower Blackwater. The water was stagnant, nasty and 78 degrees. Air temps ranged from 65 to 88 degrees.
Trash was pretty bad, I guess from that deluge we had a few days earlier. It obviously flushed out the Franklin City ditches ‘cause all the trash was from their entry point to the river and downriver from there.
I was stunned, pleased and thankful and way happy to discover somebody moved that log jam upriver from Franklin. Whoever did that: THANK YOU! You did a great job, and boaters and fishy people owe you a debt of thanks.
And, speaking of stuff in the water, a lot of people have been asking about the strange color of the water in both rivers off and on this year. I certainly have noticed it, also. Well, I asked DEQ to look into it. In their water analysis testing they found nothing out of whack. We thought it might even be something biological, like some sort of algae bloom, so they took samples and sent those off to Old Dominion for study.
Their findings were, and I quote from Wick Harlan of DEQ: “We found there to be some Gymnodinium spp. and Dinoflagellates, both at 20 cells/mL, well below bloom levels. These are not uncommon to see this time of year at these numbers.”
I have also attached the data for this year at the bridge stations that Randy samples. The turbidity has increased some since the winter and spring, but not a large amount.
My guess is that the rain had flushed some very fine sediments out of the low-lying swampy areas. No real smoking gun. So there you have it, no real answers, but no real identifiable cause either.
The fishing on this trip was terrible. I caught enough bream for bait, but even on the fly-rod the bite was slow. I did catch ONE decent 2-pound largemouth, but that was it. I was skunked both nights catfishing, didn’t even have a decent solid hit.
HOWEVER, let me tell you what was hittin’ — the skeeters. It’s been a long time since I have been bitten that much. Even in the middle of the day, in the middle of the river, they were terrible, and at dusk … whew.
How bad were they?
They were so bad that Moonpie put on my rain suit to escape the blood lust. They were so bad that the family of tree frogs that live in the boat and go on patrol with me used a whole can of Off bug repellant trying to get relief.
On top of that, giant two-inch long horseflies also tormented us the entire trip. So even though we had a great trip, we definitely were bloodless on the Blackwater. Hopefully, the bats will gobble up all the blood thirsty little boogers before our next trip 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.