RiverGuard’ end of year report

Published 3:25 pm Saturday, January 12, 2019

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 6th through the 8th on the Blackwater below Burdette. The water was high and fast but clear, 50 degrees and 7.3 on the USGS gauge at Burdette. Air temps ranged from 34 to 62 degrees. Riding back to camp in the boat near dark the first day I actually had bugs hitting me in the face. That’s how crazy warm it was.

During a recent patrol, the RiverGuard found this fragrant cedarwood ball made by a beaver. This was a very unusual find for the patrolman. — Submitted | Jeff Turner

The fishing on this trip was fair. I caught several nice speckles, a fat raccoon perch, three blackfish and six bass. A quarter-ounce blade bait and a Rogue stick bait were the lures of choice. I also lost several large fish using a big plastic fish-shaped jig that had a swimming tail. But I never boated or even saw any of those fish, oh except one of the bass I caught was caught on that thing. I don’t mind losing a fish, but it sure does bother me when I lose one before I can identify what it is. I hate that.

Trash on this trip was bad. That’s pretty unusual for up there. However, most of it was glass bottles, which means it is trash that’s been out there a long time. All this high water we have had recently is dislodging that stuff out of the swamps. That’s how the watershed cleanses itself. Problem is in doing so the trash just gets placed in somebody else’s watershed eventually, unless of course SOMEONE picks it up!

So 2018 is in the bag. And with that here are some stats that I keep record of. The total trash weight I collected and removed from both rivers in 2018 was 628 pounds. Only 66 pounds of that was from the Nottoway. Why? Well I was not able to get on the Nottoway from September through December for one reason or the other. And, the Blackwater historically always has more trash because the city of Franklin is located on its shoreline. Just the facts ma’am.

Every year in my end of final report I like to include my pick of the oddest thing I found on the rivers for that year. This year’s award goes to the coconuts I found floating in the Blackwater. Go figure!

A new threat to the river was brought to my attention late in 2017, which was of course the alligator weed invasion of the Blackwater. I put a lot of effort in eradicating this hardy invasive plant last year. Sadly, however, total eradication is not going to happen. The plant is far more dispersed than I originally thought. The best I could ever hope to do is keep it in check and I have decided that I’m not going to spend the rest of my life doing that. It’s going to be in God’s hands and, hopefully, our winters will keep it from choking the river to death. I do believe I put a hurtin’ on it and probably set it back several years. And that’s just going to have to be good enough.

In 2018 I spent 27 three-day/night patrols on the rivers for a total of 81 days. That does not include single day trips I went on for various reasons. Since 1988 when I first started keeping records, I have spent 1,835 camping days/nights on the river. I believe that works out to a little over five years I have lived on the rivers.

Anybody who knows me understands how much I love these rivers. They are this area’s crown jewels. I look forward to 2019 and hope I can continue my mission to protect these two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.

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