Riverkeeper report: Freezing Deer rides again

Published 12:49 pm Saturday, October 8, 2016

Spirit of Moonpie, Freezing Deer and I spent the 2nd through the 4th on the Nottoway below Delaware Road. The water was high at 7.89 on the USGS gauge at Sebrell, cloudy, 74 degrees and fast.

Trash on this trip was not bad, but the water was really nasty on the surface and most of the swamps were spewing this brown-looking stuff on top of the water. Just swamp ooze I guess. I would have thought all the high water from the previous week would have flushed that stuff out, but it might just have generated more.


The trip started out so nice. It was great having Freezing Deer back on the river. She had not been out with Moonpie and I in a few years because her back just would not tolerate it, but with some special furniture changes she thought she could make it three days … and she did.

The water was in pretty good shape and I looked forward to scoring big with the fish. We needed bait for the catfishing we were going to do that night, so I whipped out the fly rod to see if I could quickly obtain some bait. On the second cast, I grazed a stump in the water and the fly and leader broke off. I could see the bug so I turned the boat around to go back and get it.

The pontoon boat sits about two feet off the water so I had to get on my knees on the floor of the boat and reach out to get the bug. That was hard to do and to compound the issue the boat pontoon pushed the limb underwater. I finally got hold of the fly and started to just bring it in the boat, but the darn leader was wrapped around the log.

The next thing I knew, that event went from trying to get a lure back into the boat to being a deadly serious situation. The current was running out fast so the boat moved backwards, tightened up the leader and drove the hook all the way into my right hand middle finger. Now, I was in a real bad position. I tried breaking the line but could not. I also could not get my knife out with my paralyzed left hand to cut the line. If the boat, with all its 24 feet of mass moved backwards with the current, it would either pull me off the front of the boat into the screaming current or rip a huge tear from my first knuckle on that finger to up under my fingernail and out the end.

Luckily, I had Freezing Deer with me, who managed to run up to the front of the boat and get the trolling motor going so the boat stopped trying to pull me off the front. She then got my knife, opened it and I was able to get the line cut. It was a real disaster narrowly averted. Of course I still had to remove the hook, which was not too bad. Luckily, the barb on that hook was flattened, which made it come out without too much problem when I straight-line back snatched it out with a pair of needle nose pliers. It is quit possible she saved my life that day. So that was a rough start to the trip. ANYWAY, things got better and I caught the needed bait. I also caught several descent largemouth on a rogue minnow.

The real highlight of the trip though was on the first night Freezing Deer caught a monster 23-pound Blue Cat. She handled the massive fish very nicely and we landed it and released it with nobody getting hurt. We also caught an 8-pounder that night.

The second night, the water had come up even more and was even faster, and we were completely skunked. We didn’t even care; we had scored the first night, I hadn’t drowned or had my finger ripped off, Moonpie was not very stinky and it was so nice to have the love of my life back on the two rivers we call the Nottoway and Blackwater.

P.S. I received information that a bunch of large dead turtles were found floating in the Blackwater below Joyner’s Bridge last weekend. If anybody saw anything like turtle traps or strange floats in the lily pad beds or can share any light on this, please contact me.

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