Having a ball on the Blackwater

Published 10:32 am Saturday, March 3, 2018

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 19th through the 22nd on the Blackwater below Franklin. The water was low, clear and 52 degrees, air temps ranged from 46 to 75 degrees.

I was tired of the doom-and-gloom weather we had been having and sitting at home, so I decided I would go to the river anyway even though there was a 30 percent chance of rain each day. However, I had an ace in my corner for that. I took my rain tarp with me and spent the hour it takes to deploy that at the campsite knowing that if I went through all that setup, it would not rain. Once again that trick worked and it only sprinkled early the third morning while I was still nice and snuggled in my tent. That’s an old campin’ trick I learned years ago and now am passing on to you guys!

The fishing on this trip was … fair. I never caught a shad, but there are a few in the river from what I heard from other fishermen. So I concentrated on rockfish. I caught two, both under the 18-inch minimum length to keep, so I had to throw both back. One most likely died, but that is the rule so be it. I do not make the rules, but it makes no sense to me that we must throw back immature fish, but can keep the egg-laden larger fish? I also caught two catfish, a jack, a raccoon perch, two speckle, a blackfish and a bass. All caught on the blade bait jigged vertically.

Part of the mission on this trip was to try to get eyes on the eagles at both nest sites on that part of the river. The one near the power line at the Pretlow Farm I looked at several times and never saw anybody. That doesn’t mean the nest is not occupied this year; it might mean they were just sitting tight on the eggs.

At Cherry Grove I thought I saw two heads in that nest when I first got there, but when I glassed the nest I could not see anything in that nest either. I’m betting they are in there, though, and will continue to check on them.

Trash on this trip was pretty bad. We have had a lot of rain recently so as usual that cleaned out the ditches to the river. Plenty of basketballs and even a durn beach ball, which Moonpie kept playing with and loosing out of the boat back into the river.

I kept on hearing her making seal sounds from the back of the boat and when I looked around to see what the heck was going on, I saw she was back there bouncing that beach ball up and down on the tip of her nose. I was actually quit impressed except for the fact every third or fourth bounce she would go “oops” and the ball would go flying out of the boat and I’d have to retrieve it again. After the fourth time of putting up with all that I just took the ball and stuck a fillet knife in it deflating that annoyance for good.

Every year about this time when the shad start to run, temps get warmer and inevitably more and more people start to venture out on the rivers. This is when I start seeing problems at the boat ramps. People just not using good common sense. Remember, we all want to hurry up and get our boats in the river. PLEASE, do not park your rig in the staging area of the ramp facility and fix your rods and reels etc., or eat your lunch while blocking others from launching their boat. Yes, I actually saw that at the Franklin ramp when I was coming out the other day.

When you pull up there into that staging area, get your boat ready to launch and then back down the ramp and launch in a timely manner. If you need to do a whole bunch of other prep stuff, there is plenty of parking lot area at all the public ramps where you can get that done without out impeding others. Be kind, be courteous, use your head and remember, we all want to have a ball on the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.

To contact Jeff about river issues, email him at blknotkpr@earthlink.net.