I see dead people

Published 5:19 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2019

By Jeff Turner

american shad

An American shad caught by a VDGIF biologist for a sampling study. Submitted | Jeff Turner

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 27th through the 29th on the Blackwater below Franklin. The water was 52 degrees, clear and normal level. Air temps ranged from 33 to 70 degrees. ‘Twas very nice weather for sure. In fact, I felt like I had been given a bit of a rebate from my last patrol that had a day snatched away from me because of rain. So, thank you, River Spirits.

Trash on this trip was not too bad. However, I did not venture downriver on this patrol past the City of Franklin’s Public Works facility. I only picked up about a half a bag. I want to thank the Franklin Lions Club for picking up the Bogart Street retention pond this past week, that was very nice. Also, there were three VDOT orange trash bags at the boat ramp when I came in Friday. I don’t know if someone picked up on the river or what. If YOU did that, THANK YOU and let me know who you are, please.

The fishing on this trip was good … for stripers. I caught a total of seven, but only one was legal size to keep. I caught two on a pink jig fishing for shad, the keeper and another small one on a Rogue stick bait and the rest jigging the blade bait. I also caught three blue catfish on the blade bait. I only caught about 15 shad the whole trip. Most all the fish were caught waaayy upriver from Franklin in motorboat danger land.

I had the opportunity to meet up with VDGIF Fisheries Biologist Eric Brittle and team in the shock boat way upriver. They had launched from Joyner’s Bridge and worked their way downriver doing herring and shad sampling. It’s always nice running up with these guys and discussing fisheries issues. It just so happened that where I was at there was a pile of shad in that area and I got to watch the synchronized harmony of Eric handling the jet drive boat combined with the skill of his helper slinging the fish in the kiddie pool inside the boat.

Lordy, Lordy, each year at the beginning of “The Crazy Season” when the crush of boaters and seasonal fisher people hit the river in the spring, I always write a piece on boating safety and ethics. Sadly, everyone does not read that article each year. However, EVERYONE who operates a motorboat on Virginia waters has to take a boater’s education course, or at least they are supposed to. So, it’s amazing to me when I see reckless or dangerous behavior out there.

Case in point, Thursday night, sitting by my little campfire on the shore of the river. At a little after 10 in the pitch-black darkness of the Blackwater river a small boat came hauling butt from Franklin past me, then turned around a few minutes later and came back by me once again flying past. They had no running lights that are required by law, no spotlight, no flashlight, no light at all. That is so crazy, so dangerous on a river that still has deadly pulp wood that rises from the bottom of the river waiting to impale a boat’s hull. Even in my reckless crazy days on the river, we did not run up and down the river at night without lights of some kind.

I hope someone knows who this was and can try to relate to them how dangerous this act was. I just want people to be safe out there cause I damn sure DO NOT want to see dead people on the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.

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