Riverkeeper report: Fabulous fall on the Blackwater

Published 1:44 pm Saturday, November 11, 2017

by Jeff Turner

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 2nd through the 4th on the Blackwater below Franklin. Air temps ranged from 53 to 77 degrees. The river was 63 degrees and leafy, so much so it was hard to run the boat for long without having to stop and clear the propeller.

The Riverkeeper recently photographed this raccoon quickly moving along the shore of the Blackwater River. — Submitted | Jeff Turner

It was a fabulously wonderful fall trip and I imagine the last of the warm weather for the year.

The Moonpie Critter Patrol was busy this trip. Everybody wanted to get out in that last nap-inducing warm fall sunshine. I even saw a couple of snakes still hanging round, as well as turtles, a bald eagle, beaver, coons and deer.

One of the more interesting encounters we had this trip was with a little raccoon. We were picking up trash when I saw the busy Procyon lotor working its way along the shore.

So I grabbed the camera and started taking pics and filming. This was the busiest coon I have ever seen. It paid little mind to us, but was in a seemingly big hurry to get somewhere downriver. I mean it was practically running along the shore only stopping now and then to wash off a mussel morsel and hurriedly eat it up. I guess it needed some extra energy food that day for its journey. I bet we followed that little rascal a mile before it finally looked at Moonpie and myself one last time, waved and darted off into the deep dark Blackwater swamp. I guess it was home, or was at somebody else’s home. In any event I put a serious hurtin’ on my trolling motor battery that day trying to keep up with Miss Busy Britches!

You know y’all can go on the Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeeper Facebook page to see photos and videos of these outings on the rivers, right? Anyway, it was good to see everybody — except for the skeeters — one more time before winter sets in.

The fishing on this trip was pretty good. I caught a few small bass on stick baits and a bunch of jacks, which is what I was really fishing for.

They are in my opinion the yummiest fish in the river. For as many as I caught, though, I lost the same amount. It was one of those trips where the jacks just would not stay on the hook. The crazy things, as soon as you tried to set the hook, would come out of the water and just go nuts. Like out of the water more than in the water. It’s really hard to hook up good on them when they are getting big air.

I did not set any limb lines but I heard some folks were doing pretty good with the catfish that way. Just remember, all lines must be tagged with your name, address and phone number and must be checked daily, and must be removed from the river/tree when you are not fishing them daily.

Trash was pretty bad on this trip, I picked up a full bag and ANOTHER Styrofoam block that came from Tractor Supply. That makes 26 now that I have removed from the river. Maybe that was the last one. Maybe one day there will not be any Styro blocks or trash to pick up, no pollution to monitor, no poachers to chase, no invasive species to protect against … yea, right. I’ll believe that when Moonpies fly 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.