Clean up before the mess-up

Published 6:12 pm Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The RiverGuard holds up a nice speckle that he caught late last week on the Blackwater River. — Submitted Jeff Turner

Jeff Turner

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 13th through the 15th on Blackwater below Franklin. The water was 44 degrees, low, fast and clear. The wind had blown the water out of the river that first day. Second and third day it was normal level. Air temps ranged from 31 to 65 degrees. It was very nice weather-wise except the first day the wind howled all day long. Like louder than Moonpie howling.

The fishing on this trip was not so great. I guess it was just too pretty. I caught three small stripers the first day, all less than 14 inches, a fat raccoon perch and that was it. The second day I only caught one big speckle. All caught on the silver buddy type lure. I did not cast for bass and did not try for shad. I expect they will start filtering into the river in a couple of weeks.

I spent a lot of time on this trip cleaning up and clearing jams and moving logs. I figured I better clean up good before the river gets trashed and jammed up again from the predicted next nine days of rain we are forecasted to have as of the date of this writing. I cleared one of the holes under the Norfolk Southern RR trestle. If I hadn’t, it would have soon shuffled logs to the second hole also. Speaking of that trestle, I saw logging mats have been placed on the IOW side of the river on the upstream side of the trestle. I truly hope that swamp right there is not getting ready to be logged, otherwise that trestle will become so jammed we will never be able to go upriver again unless somebody clears it on a monthly basis. I hope it’s not logging but possibly powerline pole replacement that’s going there.

I also towed a huge cypress log that was semi-buoyant dragging down the middle of the river upriver from the RR trestle. These are the kind that I hate the worst because they travel. The bottom end drags the bottom of the river and will stop for a while at a location. When the water comes up the log will start to drift again until it finds bottom again. At least with a stationary log you can mark it or remember where it is, but not with this type of traveling boating hazard. After six attempts to tow it failed, I finally had to drive a spike in it and attach my towline to the log to get the thing moved out of the channel. I towed it to a gut and, hopefully, it will stay there until it permanently sinks again.

OK, it’s about that time of year again when the river gets congested with boaters during the shad and white perch run. So let’s talk about safety and common sense courteous boating practices. I’m just going to hit the hot spots. At the boat ramp where there is a single ramp, DO NOT prepare to launch on the ramp. Likewise when you come back in from boating or fishing, DO NOT put your boat on the trailer and pull up out of the water and stop on the ramp to secure your boat for trailering. The rest of us would like to launch or retrieve our rigs without waiting on you.

Next up, just because some of the No Wake buoys have been removed at some boat landings and some never had any, that does not mean it’s OK to go by there throwing a wake. If there is a boat in the water or someone is trying to launch or retrieve a boat, by law you must go to No Wake if within 50 feet. Now, 50 feet is not much of a buffer for wake. So just do the right thing and go to No Wake at all ramps on the Blackwater and Nottoway if it is occupied. And look, No Wake don’t mean a quarter throttle, it means going the slowest speed possible while being able to maintain safe steerage.

Next up, be aware there will be lots of boats anchored in the middle of the river and sometimes also in a blind curve. When you come up on folks fishing in these places go ahead and go to No Wake. On these sharp blind curves in the river, go ahead and reduce speed before you get there so you can be ready to go flat if you need to in a hurry. It just ain’t worth having a accident over the fact you’re in a hurry to get to the next fishing hole. And it ain’t worth a reckless boating ticket either, and that also goes for any of the things I have mentioned above.

So be thoughtful and courteous to your fellow boaters and fisher people. After all we all want to enjoy a stress free, happy and safe time on the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.

To contact Jeff about river issues email him at