Riverkeeper report: Rivers back to normal

Published 1:40 pm Saturday, October 29, 2016

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 23rd through the 25th on the Blackwater below Franklin. The water was back to normal level and 60 degrees. Air temps ranged from 42 to 70 degrees.

The main mission for this trip was to start cleaning up all the trash from the flood. There was plenty of it, believe me, and as always I could not get it all. You can never get it all, but we brought in about 50 pounds worth.

Other than the trash, the river is in good shape. That strange color is gone and the water was nice and clear. The fishing has really picked up very nice. I caught plenty of small bass and chain pickerel, or Jacks, as we call them. I fished for catfish at night and really mopped up. I had eight fish on nine limb lines the first night.

My biggest cat weighed 17 pounds. I even caught a few channel cats, which are becoming scarce these days due to the population explosion of the blues. The cats were caught on jack belly, raccoon perch and cat belly. I also saw a young man out there that had caught a 7-plus pound largemouth and a bunch more nice ones. Nice fish, Mr. Davis!

I ran into a few issues on this first land-based trip of the fall and I knew I would. Anytime we have a high-water event like we just did, it always leaves a slimy mess on the shore. So when I got to my base camp I was not surprised to see it covered in stinky river mud. I had a terrible time getting up and down the slippery bank and busted my tail once real good.

Moonpie though that was funny, me sliding down the bank on my face. but what was even funnier was watching her slide down the bank into the water only 10 minutes after I did the Blackwater slide. At least I did not end up in the river. Though I could have stood it, that’s some nasty mud.

On the second morning at 5:30 we got a right good scare. I awoke from some critter noise (I’m a pretty light sleeper, especially out there) and heard a strange peeping sound which, as I was trying to get my brain in gear, right then the critter made a run across the campsite right past my tent. That caused stinky, muddy-butt Moonpie to rudely enter my sleeping bag with me. Nothing like muddy-wet stink dog in a giant zip lock bag snuggled up to you. At first I thought the running critter might be a Daemonosaurus chauliodus, which means “buck-toothed evil spirit. But it turned out it was Meleagris gallopavo. And I guess that was good for Moonpie and I, ‘cause we didn’t get eaten 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.