Very uncool

Published 7:34 pm Tuesday, June 9, 2020

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Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 31st through the 2nd on the Blackwater above Burdette. The water was rather muddy, 4.56 on the USGS gauge at Burdette, and 70 degrees. Air temps ranged from 54 to 80 degrees. Trash was very bad below the pump station. I removed about 80 pounds worth. A lot of it was glass bottles, which makes for heavy bags. Also saw two tires and rims which I was unable to get in the boat. Maybe eventually they will end up below Franklin where I can get them into the big boat using the electric winch I carry on that patrol boat. I saw no other water quality issues.

During a recent patrol on the Blackwater River behind Black Creek, the RiverGuard found a trash-laden log jam that is so compacted, it’s growing plants. — Submitted Jeff Turner

One of the strangest thingS I ever did see while picking up trash was something’s feet poking up through that mess. I started smelling it when I pulled the boat backwards. Whewww, it was ripe! Come to find out, this and the other footie-looking thing are not the feet of Wile E Coyote or any other critter as I had originally reported. The consensus is these are a fungus called dead man’s fingers (Xylaria polymorpha), which obviously look like a critter’s feet and also smell like a rotten corpse. Thanks to Jean Carmean, Beth Goss, David Watson and Beverley Nunnely for setting me straight.

The fishing on this trip was just OK. I did not do well the first day upriver. However, on the second day I fared much better wayyyy downriver from the pump station. In fact, I nearly made it to Joyner’s Bridge. I ended up with 12 bass to two pounds. I believe I could have caught more if I hadn’t stuck with fishing topwater for so long. Most of the bass were caught on the A.C. Shiner fished regular retrieve and a few on topwater retrieve. I also accidentally caught some really nice red throats on the bass lures.

It was very nice to make it downriver to one of my favorite places. Some people believe it is the place once called Lawrence’s Ford. I am not sure, I believe that ford is actually further downriver, but that’s another story.

At this location there was once a small bridge that crossed the river. It tied to what is now Lawrence’s Drive on the IOW side of the river and to the road that came up from behind Black Creek Baptist Church on the Southampton side. My father’s father used to cross that bridge to go to school over around Burdette somewhere. Some say the school was on what is now Line Pine Road. Regardless, it’s a cool place. Sunk in front of the pilings is a raft that was once used by Glenn Joyner’s grandaddy to carry goods to Franklin. It can still be seen sometimes when the water is very low.

I was glad to do one more land-based patrol this spring. Usually by now I have already switched over to the pontoon boat because of the heat and bugs. It’s very uncool camping in the woods this time of year with the heat, darn ticks and skeeters striving to suck on any exposed skin they can find. Of course, the skeeters are pretty bad on the pontoon boat also.

But what I miss most about land-based patrols is my few hours each night sitting by a very small fire and just reflecting on how nice it is to be alive on the river. Unfortunately, it would be very very uncool to have a fire on the pontoon boat so I’ll just have to say goodbye to fire until fall rolls around again on the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.


To contact Jeff about river issues, email him at