Alligator weed on the move

Published 6:50 pm Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 29th through the 31st on the Blackwater below Franklin. The water was clear, 76 degrees and the dissolved oxygen was at 4.25 ppm. The river was not as stagnant-looking as it was the week before, and in fact was worse-looking on the lower end of the river. Trash on this trip was not too bad. I was told the week before it was terrible, but I was not able to get on the river at that time and most of it had made its way to Carolina by the time I got out there.

The fishing on this trip was fair. I caught a few bass on topwater, none over 2.5 pounds. The catfishing at night was not great with only one per night coming into the boat. Skeeters were so bad on the second night one swarm attacked us and flew Moonpie right out of the boat and into the swamp. Luckily, she had swallowed a glow stick earlier that night and I was able to easily see and retrieve her.

Bad news. I have confirmed that the eagle’s nest at Cherry Grove is no longer in that great pine tree. One of the limbs that supported the massive nest broke and the nest fell to the ground. It appeared to me that the limb had rotted and most likely gave way during one of those storms we had earlier this summer. I do not know if the eagles will rebuild at that location or not. I am told that if some of the nest had survived the likelihood of a rebuild would have been greater. The nest was heavily damaged during Hurricane Isabel and they did rebuild after that event. I am very saddened to see it go. I have been monitoring that nest since 1998 and have seen many baby eagles come from that nest. I guess come next year we will see if they rebuild. I don’t even know if they could rebuild in that same tree or not really. We shall see.

More bad news. The alligator weed in the Blackwater that I fought for the past two years is on the move. Operation Weed Wacker was a failure. Even though areas where we completely killed the weed are still clean, areas that we could not completely eradicate it have come back with a vengeance. That is why it’s a lost cause. If it cannot be completely and totally annihilated, it comes right back and continues to spread in the river. The milder winters we are having also gives the invasive scourge a helping hand by not killing or retarding its growth and spread. Things we as recreational users of the river can do to not aid its spread are: 1, don’t drive through it or run your trolling motor in it as every piece that gets cut off and drifts away, will likely start a new bed of the hearty weed. 2, if you fish through it and get some on your lure, when you remove it from your hook don’t toss it back in the river for the same reason as I just mentioned.

Only time will tell how fast this stuff spreads and how bad it will impact fishing and boating activities. I am hopeful it will be a slow process, I would hate to see the river choked with this mess as I have seen it do in other waterways. Sadly, it will most likely end up in the Nottoway also, either from a high-water event blowing it through the swamp into the Nottoway at Smiths Bend, or by critter or boat or trailer transfer. Who knows, maybe Mother Nature will step in with a cure of her own for the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.

To contact Jeff about river issues, email him at