Shad season is here

Published 11:55 am Friday, March 4, 2022

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Spirit of Moonpie and I spent March the 1st through the 3rd on the Nottoway below Courtland. The water was 48 degrees, a little cloudy and 6.36 on the USGS gauge at Sebrell. Air temps ranged from 37 to 73 degrees. 

The mission on this patrol was to check on the eagles upriver from Courtland and to clean up since I missed going on this part of the river last year. Sadly, it looks like the eagles are not there anymore. The nest appears to be mostly gone. Since I was not on that part of the river last year, I do not know when the nest collapse happened. Maybe somebody will let me know if they saw the eagles there in 2021. March 8, 2020, was the last time I saw the eagles on this nest.

I did make time to fish for the shad some. However, I caught only three; one was a white shad. I made about a million casts to catch those three fish. So even though they were not thick up that way yet, I hope they will be plentiful by the next time I’m there. I talked to a guy that was catching some shell crackers, so I was glad somebody was catching fish! I was stunned at how much the river has silted in since last time I was up there. It was very evident downriver at Devils Elbow. The old river channel is now completely blocked, and there is a huge sandbar now that has formed on the other side. I saw a lot of really bad shoreline erosion upriver from Courtland. I’m guessing this is part of the problem.

The trash on this trip was… horrendous. There was so much I had to call in Whispering Bear to help with it. We removed 150 pounds of the mess, and these were drained bottles, not full of water adding to the weight. I drained each one, one by tedious one, because a 40-ounce beer bottle is heavy enough on the end of a 4-foot litter getter. There must be a trash dump somewhere upriver in the swamps for there to be that much old glass trash. It was crazy. I’ll tell you something else that I have noticed. Since the kayak and canoe craze, you cannot believe how many flip-flops and water shoes I’m finding nowadays. It’s hard for me to fathom that so many people lose their river footwear on the upper Nottoway, but then, I have the shoes to prove it. We also picked up a lot of Styrofoam that is still filtering downriver from where all that crap was dumped into the swamp a few years ago. There was one huge piece that still had the refrigerant lines attached to it from the old Beale meat packing place. That place was the originating source for all that Styrofoam that ended up in the river. It was so heavy we could not get it in the boat. Next time I’m up there, if it’s closer to the boat landing, I will try to drag it out with the truck. I will most likely find it hung up at the railroad trestle that is little by little getting blocked again.

So, it was a good trip, I got a lot accomplished. Hopefully next time I’m up that way I can spend more time fishing and less time cleaning up on the two rivers we call the Nottoway and Blackwater.

Jeff Turner is the Blackwater Nottoway RiverGuard. To contact him about river issues, send him an email at He can also be followed on the Blackwater Nottoway RiverGuard Facebook page. Just type in “Blackwater Nottoway RiverGuard” in the search field on Facebook.