Riverkeeper report: A model beaver

Published 12:02 pm Saturday, August 5, 2017

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 31st through the 2nd on the Nottoway below Delaware. Air temps ranged from 60 to 90 degrees and the water was 80 degrees. Trash was pretty much non-existent in the river.

The river is still in need of serious rain. The water is stagnant and just needs a good flushing. Other than that I saw no other water quality issues.

The fishing was not good at all. I did catch plenty of bream for bait, but they were all bait size — Ha! Ha! — definitely not eating size. I did fish some for bass on this trip using topwater. I had lots of hits, but the fish just were not dedicated to the strike. They would come up and just kinda make a halfhearted attempt at the lure. I had one jack, though, which was not lethargic in its attack. The fish came at my mini-topwater lure with such gusto that it hit the lure at full speed, came out of the water three feet and did a triple summersault. I did poorly with the catfish, only catching one two-pounder the first night and was skunked the second night.

I pretty much had figured the fishing was going to be bad so I took my pole saw with me to do some more work in the narrows. Last year I cut that big dead cypress off with my little pole saw, which was quite a challenge. Right across from that was a river birch that, while not really an immediate problem, was definitely gonna be one day.

It’s so much easier to take care of these things before the tree gets too big to manage or end up in the river blocking the channel, especially here where the channel is only 25 feet wide. So I cut the 25-foot tree so it slowly folded down to the river where I could trim it up some. Then I finished the cut, tied it to the front of the pontoon boat and dragged it backwards through and out of the narrows. I’m sure the beavers had a feast that night.

Speaking of beavers, I had the oddest baby beaver experience this trip. While I have filmed hundreds of beaver over the years, I have never had one act like this. I saw the little aquatic critter while I was fishing along the shore. So I retrieved my camera and got it all booted up and headed toward the furry water rodent.

Right at first it did the typical pissed-off beaver thing, and slapped its little tail a few times and wanted to play hide-and-seek. I snapped a few pics and went back to fishing.

I was fishing along when, lo and behold, here comes the little beaver past me on the shore side. It then started like showing off for me. It would let me catch up to it, then sit there and start munching on lily pad flowers. I got closer and closer. It would swim around the boat blinking and looking at Moonpie and me. It was like it was modeling. It finally let us get within three feet of it and just sat there like “Flotation is groovy, man!”

That’s when Moonpie said, “What a model citizen — or beaver I guess I should say — yes, a well-behaved model beaver.”

I agreed, and I must say I have never seen such a curious friendly little beaver on the two rivers we call the Nottoway and Blackwater.

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