Shad are shakin’

Published 9:24 pm Thursday, March 21, 2019

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 17th through the 18th on the Nottoway below Delaware. Yes, only two days thanks to a bad forecast by the weather man. The water was still a little high, fast murky and 53 degrees. Air temps ranged from 32 to 62 degrees.

The water you could tell had been very high and all up on the shore. My little swamp base camp I have been using since the 1990s had a couple of feet of water over it from what I could tell. Since it is basically in the swamp anyway it is usually a little juicy, but this trip it was downright a muddy mess. I had to break dead limbs and spread them around where I was walking just to keep from slipping so much and falling down. By the time I left I had mud on EVERYTHING … and I’m not kidding! It was so muddy I had to make poor little Moonpie some snow shoes to keep her from sinking into the gooey bog!

The fishing on this trip started off really bad. I only caught a 3-inch-long white perch the first day. Its pretty bad when you have to use a minnow like that to claim No Skunk status, but I did. Hhaaaha. On day two, after I got word it was supposed to rain that afternoon and night, I decided to fish a little bit before I broke camp. I’m glad I did because I finally started catching some shad. One was an American shad that we can no longer include in our meager creel allowance that the state has dictated. Anyway, it was fun while it lasted and then I had to go and break camp after only one night. That’s a lot of effort for just one night.

Trash on this trip was worse than normal for this river at this location, but with the recent very high water conditions we had for an extended time it was expected. I picked up a bagful, which is a lot for this part of the river. What was worse though, was the amount of wood that had washed out of that huge tract of swamp that was recently clear cut (nuked) right to the edge of the river. There is now a lot of really large butt ends of cypress and tupelo floating around in that part of the Nottoway. So, boaters beware when you are around the Monroe Bridge area of the river. It’s a shame the Virginia Department of Forestry allows loggers to cut these riverine swamps right to the edge of the river with no buffer. In the Chesapeake Bay watershed by law they have to leave a buffer, but not on our rivers.

Maybe one day our scenic rivers will be deemed important enough to have legislation enacted to better protect them and the boaters that enjoy those two rivers we call the Nottoway and Blackwater.

To contact Jeff about river issues email him at