Battle for the river

Published 4:48 pm Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 3rd through the 5th on the Blackwater below Franklin. The weather was nice with air temps ranging from 68 to 86 degrees. The water was 74 degrees and a little stagnant with dissolved oxygen running on average about 3.5 ppm.

Alligator weed is a highly invasive plant that chokes our aquatic life in rivers and canals. The weed was been found in the Blackwater last fall. — FILE PHOTO

Trash on this trip was light, but I expect by the time this report comes out we will get a good test of the new trash boom in the City of Franklin’s Bogart Street retention pond from the remnants of Hurricane Michael. I hope to be able to document by video/pics the boom as it catches trash and if so will post those pics or video on Facebook.

The fishing on this trip was not so great once again. I caught some bream and a huge shell cracker while fishing for catfish bait. I did nothing casting for bass the one afternoon I tried with topwater. I was skunked the first night catfishing, but the second night was rewarded with a nice 10-pounder and that was it.

The battle for the river has about to come to an end for this year. Since the discovery of alligator weed in the Blackwater in the fall of 2017, I have been trying to eradicate the invasive species. Alligator weed can take over a waterway and literally choke it to death. I have been trying to stop the aggressively spreading aquatic plant from doing just that, however, I fear it’s a losing battle.

While the RiverGuard was on his most recent patrol, he photographed this egret on the Blackwater River. — Submitted | Jeff Turner

The problem is I cannot get deep enough up into to a couple of locations where the weed has a pretty large and strong foothold. So since the discovery of it I have been basically keeping the weed in check. I have eradicated many pockets of it, but at the same time I keep discovering new locations that I have missed finding. It is a lot of work, and dangerous handling the chemical that kills it. Keeping the weed in check means I would have to continue spraying for the rest of my life. I have decided I do not want to do that because of the health risks.

So I have an aggressive plan that I hope to carry out very soon or might have to wait until next summer depending on weather and river conditions. That plan will hopefully allow me to get to the two or three “Mother” locations to kill the weed there. See, if I can’t kill those “Mother” locations, the weed will just continue spreading. It only takes one little sprig of it to drift away and take root somewhere else on the river. It will be my last-ditch effort at stopping the spread of this weed. If it is not eradicated from the Blackwater, it is only a matter of time before it gets into the Nottoway.

Boaters and fisherpeople need to be diligent about checking props and trailers to make sure you do not import or export the weed. When you get hung up in it fishing and it gets on your lure, do not snatch it off your lure and toss that sprig back into the river, it will start a whole new patch if you do that. Instead, put it in your onboard trash bag and dispose of it with your trash in a proper manner. If you don’t know what the weed looks like, Google it and familiarize yourself with what it looks like.

Failure to be diligent and knowledgeable about this threat to our local rivers could result in the eventual demise of the two beautiful rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.

To contact Jeff about river issues, email him at