Riverkeeper report: Chilly willy on the Nottoway

Published 12:49 pm Saturday, September 16, 2017

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 8th through the 10th on the Nottoway below Delaware. Air temps ranged from 50 to 75 degrees. But let me tell you, on Sunday morning that was a REALLY cold 50 degrees. Chilly willy was all up on me and Moonpie, too, trying to get warm. For much I’d think my thermometer is off.

The river was 70 degrees, dingy and running pretty good. ‘Bout as perfect fishing conditions one could ask for. So why did I NOT catch a bunch of fish? Answer, I guess I just don’t know how to fish. Seriously I did think I was going to do really well with the cats at night on rod and reel, but it was not to be. I only caught three in two nights of fishing. One was a pretty good nine-pounder, but that was not what I was looking for. I was hoping for some very large fish so I could give them to VDGIF to give to the Virginia Department of Health. They need some big ones for tissue sampling to see how bad the mercury contamination is in the big blue catfish from the Blackwater and Nottoway. My guess is they are going to have pretty high levels.

I tried casting for bass a couple hours, which did yield a very nice 4-¾ pounder. The fish, however, was really poor and all head. It should have weighed 6.

There were two tournaments going on in the river on Saturday, so the water was pretty churned up. I saw on Facebook looked like they did pretty good with the bass, though one member told me it was tough fishing. I’m guessing that meant those bass that were caught did not go easily. Bream fishing was not so great either. However, I did not try the fly rod, the ones I caught I caught casting.

Trash on this trip was light, I only picked up three or four bottles and saw no other water quality issues really.

Moonpie critter patrol was very good, in the fact we saw lots of a few certain species, but the diversity was not there this time. We saw dozens of Great Blue Herons, which was good because it helped me learn how to use my new camera better. I would see them fly up in front of us, which then gave me the opportunity to know where they landed so I could then approach on the ready. I just kept on herding them down or up the river.

They’d land and I’d catch up and practice, over and over. I ended up with some decent shots of Blues and Whites. I tried for a Kingfisher, but that’s going to be a lot harder.

What I REALLY was shooting for was the elusive flying turtle shot. VERY hard to come by. One has to find the turtle on a log that has big air under it, which means the turtle, is waaay up high. Then you have to time it right to catch the turtle when it bails off the log and snap the picture mid-air before it hits the water. So I hope to accomplish that shot soon, and I’ll be keeping a keen lookout for Gamera 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.