Drain the Nottoway

Published 10:43 am Monday, January 16, 2017

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 30th through the 1st on the Nottoway below Delaware. The water was lowww, clear and 42 degrees. Air temps ranged from 24 to 50 degrees and it snowed and rained on us.
I picked up only two pieces of trash and saw no water quality issues. What I did see/witness was the lowest river level I have ever seen/remembered on the lower river. By the end of the first day the wind had just about drained the Nottoway and the swamp. Ha! Ha! The 30 mph winds blew 3 feet of water out of the river to the sound. I have seen this happen many times over the years, but not to this extent.
I saw shell beds along the shore that I did not know even existed. It was very fun looking at all the shells and collecting some of those ancient creations. Yet, again though, I found no teeth! Oh well, it was great fun just looking at stuff that no human had ever seen before.
The fishing on this trip was good. I did no casting at all, but instead vertical jigged the entire trip using 1/4-ounce blade bait. I also only fished in one location the two days I fished. I ended up with a jack, a striper (3 pounds), 4 largemouth (one went 3 pounds) and about a dozen raccoon perch. I also had a couple of nice fellows give me some raccoon perch and three jacks they caught right there talking with me. They were yummy, so thank y’all whoever you nice folks were.
This was another one of those wildlife aboodanza bananza trips. The first day I was still splitting kindling up at camp when I heard the deer hounds along the river getting close.
WOW! That sounded like a cow had jumped in the river, but when I stood up and looked it was a deer and it was swimming straight toward camp.
Right then a savvy ol’ hound dog entered the frigid river also and was in hot pursuit of the deer. So I walked to the shore and started waving and a hollerin’ to turn the deer back to the other side of the river. That worked … kinda. To my amazement the deer swam back to the other side, but then proceeded to swim upriver with the hound now struggling to keep up. It was a losing endeavor for the hound. I could not believe it, but that deer swam upriver against the current, in 42-degree water, until it was out of sight, like a quarter mile! I never saw it get back out of the river. The poor hound gave up after about 100 feet. I have seen so many deer swim the river, but never swim that far.
Next up on weird Riverkeeper Animal Tricks Day:
At the end of the first day it was ’bout getting dark, so I needed to clean fish. I started the boat and headed to the far side of the river. ‘Bout the time I got there I saw a small raccoon messing around the shore. Once again, like on a trip a few weeks ago instead of seeing me and immediately evacuating the area, the little rascal just sat there until I darn near ran over him when the boat went to shore. The little coon then just kind of went up in a hole under a cypress tree. So I was like, “OK, I’ll clean this striper and give the coon the carcass.”
Well, ’bout halfway from being finished with the striper, I heard a commotion behind me. The little coon bolted from its lair with a tirade of coon noise/bad coon words thrown at me and vanished into the swamp.
“Oh well,” Moonpie said, “I guess the dummy didn’t want no fish!”
I still threw the fish up there, cleaned a few more and left.
Now here is where it gets really WEIRD! The next day, ’bout the same time of day, near dark, we started up to head to camp. Just about where the coon experience happened, but on the opposite side of the river, I saw something on a huge log that jutted out into the river. It looked … blond or white as it ran off of the log. So I cranked the old boat hard to port and headed for the log. As I bore down on the shore I saw something dark, killed the motor and started scrambling for the camera box. The boat hit the shore and four feet away acting all weird was a mink. So I just froze ’cause I knew I would never get the camera box open, boot up the camera and get all that done before the critter would vanish.
Mink are very curious inquisitive critters, but I had never seen one act like that. It kept zig-zagging back and forth in front of the boat acting like it wanted to stay for something. Then I saw it, behind a cypress knee, I saw what looked blond to me on that log. It was that striper carcass I had cleaned on the OTHER side of the river the day before. Obviously, the coon never returned to get it.
So evidently, the mink had gotten the fish over there, swam across the river with it and then got up on that tree for some reason to eat it. So what I saw was that fish in the mouth of the mink running across that log when I was coming up the river.
Anyway, the mink finally also went in a hole like the coon did and kept peeking out at me. So I went ahead and booted up the video camera hoping it would come out and get the fish, but of course it did not. Now if I had dropped the camera in the river or something, I’m sure the mink would have come out. I waited for several minutes, but it was getting ’bout dark and I had two miles of river to cover to get to camp, so we left.
All I gotta say is I sure hope some critter person finally took possession of that fish so they could enjoy a free New Year’s meal from the Riverkeeper on the two rivers we call the Nottoway and Blackwater.