RiverGuard back ‘in gear’

Published 7:34 pm Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The RiverGuard says that alligator weed can be seen at the power line below Franklin at the Pretlow Farm. — Submitted Jeff Turner

By Jeff Turner

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 17th through the 19th on Blackwater below Franklin. The water was clear, pretty and 66 degrees. Air temps ranged from 41 to 70 degrees, it was a very comfortable trip except for the wind on the first day. ‘Twas very nice to be back on the river after a three-week hiatus because of a hand injury. It was great to be back “In Gear.”

Trash on this trip was ’bout what I expected after the heavy rain the night before I left for the river. I picked up one solid bag full. All of it around the mouth of the Franklin storm water canal. I also removed an oil-pig from the river that took everything I had to get it in the boat because it was so heavy from being waterlogged. That was located upriver from the mill at the old ice plant.

I saw no other water quality issues other than the ever-expanding alligator weed problem. If you want to see what that looks like first hand, there is a huge amount of it at the “mother” location at the power line below Franklin right there at the Pretlow Farm. There is also a large growth further downriver at the 58 bypass, Southampton side.

I would like to take this opportunity to mention that the fencing the City of Franklin installed behind Public Works and the old dump site is really doing a great job keeping trash contained at that location. That is really nice. Also, I am very happy to report that the logging matts that were deployed upriver side of the Norfolk Southern RR trestle have been removed. Even the one that had gotten hung up in the trestle. So that is good and a terrible mess averted from those matts getting washed into the trestle and causing a dam. Thank you, City of Franklin, for getting that accomplished.

The fishing on this trip was just fair. I really didn’t fish that much though as I had lots to do out there with cleaning up and some other stuff I cannot go into detail about right now. I caught a few small bass on topwater, the biggest less than two pounds. Some of the fish were really really small. I did not set any catfish lines as I normally do this time of year, just too busy.

Moonpie critter patrol was extremely busy. I guess the cooler weather has everybody feelin’ better and moving around more. We saw LOTS of ducks, and lots of duck blinds also. Several of these were just little shabby things hobbled together out of pallets. Looked like only big enough for one person. Anyway, we also saw a giant buck, an eagle, lots of squirrels and lots of bear markings at the clay banks. As much as I am on the river at that bear-crossing place, one would think the bears would be decent about it and cross when I am in the vicinity so I could get some good pics. I just don’t know why they are so camera-shy, they obviously aren’t seeing me ’cause they evidently have terrible eyesight. I mean they swim across the river at this place and have to climb a vertical bluff when all they would have to do is go 100 yards farther upriver and have a much easier access instead of climbing those clay walls! Maybe it’s Moonpie. They probably heard how terribly fierce she is and are just plain terrified to show themselves? We also heard lots of owls and both nights the coyotes over on the Suffolk side of the river around New South Quay sounded like a church choir.

So, it was a very nice patrol. The leaves are tuning pretty colors and the humidity is gone. This is the window to get on the river before the cold, cold weather slips in. So now’s the time to get out and enjoy the beauty and abundant wildlife wonders we are afforded on the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.

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