‘Alligator’ found on Nottoway

Published 6:02 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Jeff Turner

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 3rd through the 5th on the Nottoway below Courtland. The water was 8.48 on the USGS gauge at Sebrell, clear and 51 degrees. Air temps ranged from 37 to 70 degrees.

It was great weather until the last day. I awoke to the dreaded sound of rain on the tent that morning. It would have been great not to have had to leave, that way I could have just cozied up to Moonpie and slept the rain away. That’s good sleeping in a tent with the patter of rain sleepytizing you.

But, alas, I had to bite the bullet and get out in it and break camp. It only took 30 minutes of heavy rain to turn the swamp into a muddy mess. To add insult to injury I had to use the pot … BAD. Of course right then it started raining so hard mud was jumping off the ground. I sat there on the bucket … ahhhh I thought, this is the life! Breaking camp in that rain was a mess. The eel-slick mud made it quite a challenge for someone disabled as bad as I am, but I did it — had to. Thank the Lord 2-½ hours later I was back at home, sopping wet and EVERYTHING covered in stinking river goo.

The fishing on this trip was pretty good. I caught about 20 shad/herring but they were very few and far in between. I also caught a nice largemouth … on a shad spoon. I tried jigging for stripers, but had nary a hit. I had given up on them. Luckily, most everywhere I travel up on that part of the river I just idle along because of logs, so I decided to utilize that time and trolled a stick bait. BAM! Within 100 feet I caught a striper. I ended up catching a total of four that way. One was nearly 20 inches.

I had two main missions on this patrol. One was to attempt to clear the RR trestle at Courtland and another was to check on the eagle nest up near the pump station. I was successful at clearing the RR trestle. It was hard core though. One of the logs was an 80 foot massive cypress tree. That took every trick in the book to get that turned and sent on its way. I have a couple of videos of that operation on the Blackwater Nottoway RiverGuard Facebook page you can check out.

I am also happy to report the eagles are again on the nest at the pump station. So that is good. I also found another large nest downriver in a gut. But could not determine whose nest or if it was currently being occupied. I will have to keep an eye on it.

Trash on this trip was bad. It’s so sad it’s that bad up there. Even though the Barksdale team was up there last week and did a great job cleaning up, there was still boatloads of trash there. Unfortunately, as I have told a many a volunteer group, “You’ll never get it all.”

There was also a lot of Styrofoam still working its way down the river. I guess in my lifetime that will never be completely gone from where that was dumped into the swamp a few years ago. Thanks to Mr. Owens also for picking up some of what I collected, that was a big help to me getting some of the weight out of the boat.

Moonpie and I got one of the biggest surprises we have encountered in quite a while out there. We were headed toward a large log jam that was trashed up. The trash was very deep in the jam, so the technique there is to drive the boat up onto the debris field so I can proceed to remove the trash. As we made our ramming speed approach, I noticed something green and long on the jam itself. But in that fast-dangerous water up there I could not concentrate on the object as I have to be quite precise in making the maneuver to get the boat on the jam and it was closing fast. About the time we made contact with the jam I heard Moonpie shriek, “OH MY GOD, IT’S AN ALLIGATOR!” Well that ’bout caused me to have a heart attack as I keep wondering when the ‘gators are going to show up in one of our rivers.

So, the first thing I did was grab the shotgun, cause I knew it was going to be close to the boat. I whirled that long-arm around ready to do battle, and that’s when I saw the alligator … the inflatable deflated plastic alligator that Moonpie was still pointing at and hollerin’ “Choot it, choot it!” I put the shotgun down and grabbed a two-litter trash coke bottle and beaned it off her head.

“You numbskull,” I said, “That’s a pool toy, not a real alligator.”

“Duhhh,” Moonpie exclaimed. “Everybody knows that and the fact that we don’t have alligators out here on the two rivers we call the Nottoway and Blackwater.”

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