Cold snap shuts down shad

Published 10:19 am Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 14th through the 16th on the Blackwater below Franklin. The water was low from wind push, clear and a cold 40 degrees. Air temps ranged from 26 to 50 degrees and, once again, the wind howled the entire trip making it a VERY cold patrol.

Trash on this trip was bad enough. I picked up a bag and a half including basketballs, footballs and beach balls. I have probably gathered out of the Blackwater 200 balls over the years. If most of these balls are coming from the recreation center over by Hayden I reckon I know what most of their budget is spent on. Now, how all these balls end up in that ditch back there I have no clue, but maybe they shouldn’t play so close to it, or maybe the city should erect a ball retainer fence. That would pay for itself in a couple of years in retained sports balls (just kidding.)

A Great Blue Heron near the Blackwater River as it watches an eagle feast on a catfish. — Submitted | Jeff Turner

The fishing on this trip was not too bad . . . except for the shad. I guess the nearly 10-degree water temp drop had something to do with the shad having lockjaw in the Blackwater. I tried several times in several places and never got a hit. I did, however, do pretty good with the striped bass. I caught five, but only one was eligible to keep under the required 18 inches minimum length regulation. All were caught jigging a half ounce silver blade bait. While jigging I also caught a few speckle, some catfish and a blackfish. I also lost five nice some-kind-of-fish while jigging near a treetop. They would strip off line and get hung up in the top, but that’s where the fish were so that’s where I fished.

On the Moonpie Critter Patrol, we saw an otter, some deer, plenty of herons (the kind that fly hhhaaaa) and something very odd. Upriver from Franklin we found a juvenile Bald Eagle eating on a large dead 10-pound catfish. Very interested in this activity was a very large Great Blue Heron. Now this by itself was not so unusual. However, a few minutes later further upriver we found a bunch of buzzards on the shore eating on another dead catfish. It’s just kinda strange there were two dead catfish that close together on that stretch of river.

Well, I hope by the time this report gets in the paper the shad bite will be back on in the Blackwater and the weather will be more seasonal. Unfortunately, I’m seeing snow in the forecast again for Wednesday the 21st, so we shall see. Regardless, I am blessed and happy to get out on the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway whenever I can.

To contact JEFF TURNER about river issues, email him at